Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blindsight -- The Movie

For the first time in over a month, I could finally watch videos on-line. (Usually the Internet is too slow.) So I visited the most inspirational website ever. My friend Jeff Evans is one of the mountain climbers behind this inspiration. The other is blind climber Erik Weihenmayer. Jeff and Erik scaled Mount Everest together on May 25, 2001. If you do anything today, check this out! It's a movie trailer about them both leading seven blind youth up the big mountain, and it's AWESOME. I've read some of the reviews here. One word: Wow! I'm ready to watch the movie today.

PS Don't forget to check out Jeff's website at

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

ArmorGroup Law Suit, Ethics & Courage

It's a sad day when people and companies are dishonest. "Two former employees have filed a lawsuit against ArmorGroup, charging the British security firm with lying to the US state department in order to win a [multi-million dollar contract.]"

I know one of the guys who filed the suit. I trust him. Speaking up is hard, but it's the right thing to do. I applaud his courage.

Lawsuit against ArmorGroup North America and ArmorGroup International

Follow these links: (various articles) (Attorney’s press release) (Audio – turn up the volume!)

Countering Terror at the US House

U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-NC, unveils "Wake Up America" agenda to counter terror. (Note: This is not the agenda of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus.) It will be interesting to see the plan in greater detail. But you can see the press release here.

Iraqi Heat

I moved into a tent recently. It seemed about 140 degrees in there today when I tried to sleep on the stiff cot. The A/C was out since the generator broke. Needless to say, I awoke in a pool of my own sweat.

Also, with the sand fly bites, the spiders on and in my sleeping bag, and the horrific sand storms in this arid, flat land, I have greater insight to the writers of the Bible. A land flowing with 'milk and honey' seems wonderful about now. I'd just be happy to see a few pretty song birds...or some grass. Anything green for that matter.

Just the smell of home makes me want to smile -- my wife's hair, fresh homemade food baking in the oven, and my children. It's hard to imagine a real shower and indoor plumbing, Internet that actually works, carpet, a change of clothes -- something different every day if I wanted.

Home is synonymous with relaxing. Relaxing hasn't been something easy to do in an uncomfortable war zone and less than ideal living conditions.

It might sound strange, but I'd like to drive in my car all alone and sing songs at the top of my lungs: The 3 Tenors, Michael Buble', Vittorio Grigolo, Josh Groban.

That'll be a refreshing change. 'Twon't be much longer.

Laughter, The Best Medicine

This is from an email someone forwarded me titled: Genealogy

A little girl asked her mother, “How did the human race appear?”

The mother answered, “God made Adam and Eve and they had children and so was all mankind made.”

Two days later the girl asked her father the same question. The father answered, “Many years ago there were monkeys from which the human race evolved.

The confused girl returned to her mother and said, “Mom, how is it possible that you told me the human race was created by God, and Daddy said they developed from monkeys?”

The mother answered, “Well, dear, it is very simple. I told you about my side of the family and your father told you about his.”

Praise as good as cash to brain - study says

CHICAGO, April 23 (Reuters) - Paying people a compliment appears to activate the same reward center in the brain as paying them cash, Japanese researchers said on Wednesday.
They said the study offers scientific support for the long-held assumption that people get a psychological boost from having a good reputation.

“We found that these seemingly different kinds of rewards — a good reputation versus money — are biologically coded by the same neural structure, the striatum,” said Dr. Norihiro Sadato of the Japanese National Institute for Physiological Sciences in Okazaki, Japan.
See full article

A Letter of Recommend

Yesterday a colleague, Colin Cameron, asked if I could give him a recommendation on the social and business network site, I was happy he asked. He’s such a great guy, it was easy to write a recommendation for him.

Writing and receiving kind words benefits both the giver and the receiver. In fact, Colin said it made his day. And, I was happy too. Here’s what I wrote, and lest I forget, my spot can be found at

Colin is one of the most likeable, approachable and trustworthy individuals I have ever had the pleasure to work and associate with. He is truly one of the ‘best of the best.’ A man of remarkable drive, he knows no limits. He is goal-oriented and he meets the vision he creates for himself and his team. Motivation could be his middle name. Not a false veneer, but true energy rooted in a life-time of positive habits that have shaped his character.

Colin has an uncanny way with winning friends and quickly gaining the respect of others. Obviously, that has helped him succeed in life and in business. He is genuine and possesses a great networking ability. I’ve met multiple top-notch and well-respected professionals that I continue to associate with thanks to him. But not only does Colin know people and understand human interpersonal relations on an exceptional level, but he is an ‘expert’ and a man of extraordinary insight and knowledge on every topic he pursues.

His high standards of conduct, both on a personal and professional level, in public as well as in private, make him the kind of guy you want to be around. It is well known that if you want to achieve greater heights, you should associate with the most talented and gifted leaders. Colin is that kind of person. I have a very high regard for this man, and I recommend him without reservation.

Police Officer Testifies in Court

A friend passed this along to me in an email:

If you ever testify in court, you might wish you could have been as sharp as this policeman. He was being cross-examined by a defense attorney during a felony trial. The lawyer was trying to undermine the policeman’s credibility…

Q: “Officer — did you see my client fleeing the scene?”

A: “No sir. But I subsequently observed a person matching the description of the offender, running several blocks away.”

Q: “Officer — who provided this description?”

A: “The officer who responded to the scene.”

Q: “A fellow officer provided the description of this so-called offender. Do you trust your fellow officers?”

A: “Yes, sir. With my life.”

Q: “With your life? Let me ask you this then officer. Do you have a room where you change your clothes in preparation for your daily duties?”

A: “Yes sir, we do!”

Q: “And do you have a locker in the room?”

A: “Yes sir, I do.”

Q: “And do you have a lock on your locker?”

A: “Yes sir.”

Q: “Now why is it, officer, if you trust your fellow officers with your life, you find it necessary to lock your locker in a room you share with these same officers?”

A: “You see, sir — we share the building with the court complex, and sometimes lawyers have been known to walk through that room.”

The courtroom erupted in laughter, and a prompt recess was called.

The officer on the stand has been nominated for this year’s “Best Comeback” line — and we think he’ll win.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Cop Crisis

Today I went to the Criminal Investigation Division. I was asked to conduct an internal investigation on some stolen property in our unit. When I went to CID to get what information they had, low and behold, I ran into a buddy of mine I haven't seen in over a decade.

He's a SWAT cop full time in New Jersey. Like me, he's in the military reserves.

...What a small world.

PS There is such a shortage on police officers in the states that many police departments are offering huge sign-on bonuses. Lots of police officers are working in Iraq and Afghanistan, and not as many people want to be cops anymore. We're going to have a real 'cop crisis' on our hands in the future.

PSS I got the suspect to admit everything. Case closed.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Suffering Thru Life's Sand Storms

I was reminded of The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston as I walked out of the Chapel today. The sand was a thick, orange haze. It was like the dense, destroying angel-scene in the classic movie -- a cloud of hell, so to speak.

I really enjoy church. As a kid I remember walking to church by myself. There's something refreshing about it. It's rejuvenating.

Last night I read several chapters in the Bible, then I attempted to imitate my great-great-great Grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, who was a remarkable poet and author. Here's the first poem I remember writing since the sixth grade or thereabout. As my disclaimer to any accusations of plagiarism, I believe four lines are borrowed from two other writing's I read years ago.

When the world is pressing you down a bit
And all you want to do it quit;
When the odds are against you
And the chances are high o
f you failing
Don't give up!

When no one seems to be your friend
When troubles and woes you can't mend
Don't give in!

Life can be hard with its twists and turns
As everyone of us at one time learns
But there is one place to go, you know
Where peace of plenty can be sewn.

In the quiet columns and rows
Books and books stacked top and toe;
There you'll find options not a few
Of people and pundits and their views.

But it's not the library, you see,
Nor the virtual university
Where peace and comfort you will find,
Nor is it only in your mind.

No, the lesson, my friend, is old but true
It's which voice you will listen to.
Millions and millions do contend
That they hold the key for your heart to mend.

While some may be wise and honest and good,
Others will leave you, as they should.
Turn to the scriptures and you will find
Tranquility, answers and peace of mind.

The words of God to holy men,
Those you read and there you'll find
Help and comfort to ease your mind,
Answers to struggles -- yours and mine.

Friday, April 25, 2008

American and Iraqi Cooperation

I had someone take a picture of Ali, the Iraq Army officer, and me. Ali was delighted when I presented a printed copy to him. He said he speaks about me to his family all the time when he calls them. I told him that I also mentioned to my wife that we had our picture taken together. Ali told me he was anxious to show the picture to his family when he goes home for a vacation soon.

Tonight, David, an American-Iraqi interpreter from Michigan, was with us. Ali and I were able to speak more freely and in-depth with David's help.

Ali said he'd like to come to America. I told him he could stay in our home with his family. Although I'm sure it would be too costly, I suggested visiting New York City, Washington DC, Chicago, and Hollywood. I thought of the Grand Canyon and the new glass bottom of the walking bridge that extends beyond the precipice. Ali added that he'd like to visit Texas, then said, "All of America," with a great big smile.

Ever since we met a few weeks ago I had wondered what gift I could give my friend. I don't have to luxury to go to an American store to buy a U.S. memento, nor do I have much with me. Nevertheless, I found something he'd really like and I presented it to him. Today he gave me his watch. A little stammered, I put my hand over my heart (a Middle Eastern gesture of kindness) and tried to resist such a nice offering. I was overwhelmed at such a large token for a gift to me.

Seeing my resistance to the gift, with gratitude, I might add, Ali spoke through David who said, "Please take it so you will have something to remember me by."

I'm going home soon. I only wish I had met Ali long ago. We have so much in common. He is truly a brother and a friend. I didn't want to offended him so I took his watch and will treasure it. It's like the widow's mite -- the story in the Bible where the indigent widow gave some of the only money she had -- in that Ali's watch is probably one of his most valued and needed possessions. Suddenly, I wished I could give him more. I imagine even $100 U.S. dollars goes a very long way in Iraq. But I didn't give him money. I didn't give him anything else, but a hug.

Since David was there interpreting, I told Ali I was looking for a job. "What do you mean? Are you not going to stay in the Army?"

I explained that I was a Reservist and that since I was self-employed when I was called up that I lost a great deal of money and solid business infrastructure. But first I replied that the Army wasn't for me.

We're our own worst enemy, and from my experiences here, it's no wonder the Army is hurting for Captains. As a Captain, I want nothing more than to get out. All the big signing bonuses in the world couldn't keep me in. I thought of my wife and her extreme difficulties by me leaving her to come to Iraq. I thought of my children. The thought of spending multiple years and multiple deployments away from them is repulsive. Besides, I don't believe I've ever been treated more cruelly in my life.

Just the other day an officer senior to me said, "You were labeled when we got to Fort McCoy (Wisconsin) and I don't know why. They've treated you like a 6-year-old ever since." Cruelty destroys morale and injures self-worth. It is the antithesis of cooperation and teamwork, and despite what some may think, it is a military weakness not a strength.

When the good officer told me his observations, the weight of the entire year's struggles wanted to burst out in the form of tears from my eyes.

I met a stranger the other day here, but I gained instant rapport with him. He's been with the government for 30 years now. He confided in me that he's never been around so many people but felt so alone in all his life. He took the words from my mouth. I've made friends, but have lacked real companionship. We both spoke of our wives and children.

As a retired military officer, he emphasized that I should definitely get out. "They treat young officers horribly. I see it all the time," he added. I'm not that young, but my rank and status somehow show that I am, though my receding hairline suggests at least some level of experience and maturity.

When I was in South Korea as an enlisted soldier well over a decade ago, I was awarded the Korean-American Ambassador and Friendship Award by a General Officer. Only five soldiers in the entire country were given the award. It was a wonderful honor to receive. The Korean Augmentees to the United States Army (KATUSAs) nominated me for the award, and after meeting with the First Sergeant he told me the same thing the Command Sergeant Major told me when I was in Basic Training. Each of them said, "You should be an officer. You present your self like one. You look like one."

Well, now that I am a commissioned officer, I've learned that even officers still get treated like Privates. Unfortunately, people who get rank and authority, as they suppose, too often abuse authority. And those who lust for power and control often join the military to display it. Sadly, there are many, many good men and women in our Armed Services. But the rotten apples often spoil the bushel.

Ali said that if I got out of the Army that he'd be very disappointed. Then he suggested that I come work as a liaison officer with the Iraqi Army. Had that been the case, this entire deployment would have been a different experience. "If I come back to Iraq," I said, "I would absolutely love to do that." And, I meant it.

Ali smiled and said, "Just call me. We can work together fighting bad guys."

Now there's the kind of cooperation and friendship that I like.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Terrorist Propaganda

I've gotten to know my Iraqi Army friends much better. Every time they see me now, they come give me a hug and call me 'brother.' I really like them and I think of them as my brothers too. Unfortunately, they are victims in this terrible war of terrorist-pedagogues and terror-actors in their own land.

I've met several American citizens who were born and raised in Iraq. (In fact, one of them is an air marshal and a good man.) Some of the interpreters here live in Massachusetts, Michigan, Texas and Arizona. They came back to help both the U.S. and Iraq. They have vested interests in both countries. The troops wholeheartedly appreciate their service. We couldn't do much without them.

On another note, one of my goals is to write and produce a documentary video about suicide terrorism. I was well on my way, and had even talked with a big-name Hollywood film director about it. This deployment to Iraq set me back in one sense, and in another it has helped me gain unique insight to add to my credentials.

As one who is very interested in every educational program and book about terrorism, below is some Islamist propaganda as related on the award-winning documentary program Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West that I ordered not long ago. Enjoy!

…[E]very Muslim and every honorable man who is not a Muslim must stand against the Americans, English and Israelis and endanger their interest wherever they may be.
—Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, Sec, Guardian Council Iran , 2004

Who can say even one word against the true Jihad against their colonialist occupiers?
Houses and young men must be sacrificed. Throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered. This is the path to victory.
—Saudi Cleric ‘Aed Al-Qarni, 2004

A British teenager tore out an elderly woman’s heart after stabbing her and drank her blood. There are people [in the West] who are enthusiastic about (drinking) elderly people’s blood.
—Sheik Muhammad Al-Munajid, Iqra TV, Saudi Arabia , Aug 2004

They [the Americans] are beasts in human form.
—Al-Majd TV (UAE) May 2004, Mamoun Al-Tamimi, Political Commentator

We consider [America] to be an enemy because it is the greatest plunderer of our treasure, our oil, and our resources, while millions in our nation suffer unemployment, poverty, hunger, unmarriageability, ignorance, darkness, and so on.
—Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah Secretary-General , Lebanon :

Our motto, which we are not afraid to repeat year after year, is: Death to America ! Death to America !
—Ibid., Al-Manar TV, Lebanon

Furthermore, reality shows that America is behind all problems.
—Awadh Al-Qarni, Saudi Cleric, Iqraa TV, 2004

I hope Bush dies in flames, and I want to go to Ariel Sharon and kill him with a gun and stab him with a sword, because of the poor Palestinians!
—Little girl not more than 11 years old as see and quoted on Abu Dhabi Television, Bahrain

Oh Allah, destroy Britain . Oh Allah, destroy America ! Oh Allah, destroy Britain and its supporters and collaborators!
—Prayer of Dr. Ikrime Sabri, Mufti of Palestine , Palestinian Authority Radio Broadcast, Aug. 24, 2001

A divine blow will be dealt soon to the US and Israel . The believers will rejoice with Allah’s victory.
—Ahmed Abdul Razek, Palestinian Imam, Palestinian TV, 2002

You see this flag here? It’s going to go on the floor. And too us, our loyalty does not belong to this flag – our loyalty belongs to Allah [praised and exalted is He]! Allah is the greatest!
Don’t be afraid to speak out against injustice in this country, one of the loopholes of this government, is they allow the freedom of expression.
—U.S. Flag burning by Islamic Thinkers Society, June 2005, on a street in New York City

Blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons’ and plunged into the midst of the Jews, crying: ‘Allahu Akbar, praise to Allah.’
—Sheik Ibrahim Mahdi, Palestinian Cleric, Palestinian TV, 2001

Until Israel is wiped off the face of the Earth, these cries will continue… Death to Israel! Death to Israel!
—Iranian TV, 2004

What makes Allah happy? Allah is happy when [non-Muslims] get killed.
—Abu Hamza Al-Masri, Former Leader, Supporters of Shariah, London

Oh, and we mustn’t forget:

There is no terrorist threat.
—Michael Moore, Writer/Director, “Fahrenheit 9/11”, University of Michigan , Oct 2003

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Terrorist Lawyers, Sadism & Sarcasm

Terrorist lawyer – I’m sure someone could think up some really creative jokes for this one. Me, I’m a bit queasy and nauseas. The ranks of the bottom-dwelling scum-suckers have been taken to an all time low with the advent of the terrorist lawyer. Jurisprudence is forever doomed.

Okay, on a more seriously sardonic note, consider the “Hamas lawmaker” Salah Bardawil. I don’t think he’s “representing” the group just for the experience. Although, who knows, he could be doing some kind of pro bono internship for the terrorist group nestled “peacefully” in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Egypt .

Shoot, Salah might be able to get his picture taken with a former U.S. President, or maybe even an endorsement or letter of recommendation from him. You never know, someday a former President might actually meet face-to-face with the bona fide U.S. Department of State-“approved” terrorist group. Hard to fathom, I know, but mark my words, it could happen.

But isn’t there some sort of policy against negotiating with terrorists, you ask? Ah, forget that. It’s more like a moral guideline anyway. Besides terrorists are human, so they’d be willing to compromise. Terrorists wouldn’t just attack innocent people out of spite, would they? And while we’re at it, the homeless prefer to be called “transients,” and terrorists prefer to be called “freedom fighters.” Calling them terrorists makes them seem evil. That wouldn’t be nice, now would it?

Besides, Hamas isn’t really a terrorist group, is it? In relation, I’m sure the group of Palestinians seen cheering on the television news networks when the World Trade Center buildings collapsed was just staged anyway. It couldn’t have happened. No way. You can’t believe everything you see on TV, right? Just like those guys who landed on the moon. Whatever – it’s not like that was real.

For that matter, we all "know" that it was the U.S. government who planted bombs under the World Trade Center causing it to collapse. Just do a Google search on that topic and you’ll have hundreds if not thousands who “know” that’s what really happened. (Click here or here, for example.) Even university professors have said so! The people who teach our young, impressionable youth wouldn’t teach anything far-fetched or ultra-liberal, would they? …Sure, the planes might have crashed into the towers, but those 19 Middle Eastern guys just happened on the planes by coincidence. They weren’t high-jacking, murdering, suicidal terrorists. There isn’t such a thing, I’m sure.

Also, it was a U.S. missile that hit the Pentagon. Come on people. I’ve seen the video. It’s just a blur; it’s not a plane. All the evidence suggests it’s so. It’s a giant U.S. government conspiracy and cover-up, don’t you know? (Okay, now I’m really getting sick acting out this fake persona. What makes me sick is that there are actually people who believe that!)

So, considering the great opportunity for a legal internship, I think it would be quite beneficial for the terrorist bastion to open its doors to any and all law students, including from America . Heck, let’s just open up an al Qaeda-wide jurisprudence internship, or a full job announcement for that matter. Imagine what your CV could read like: “Traveled to foreign countries and met with senior members of the FBI’s Most Wanted List; made global radicalization policies negatively affecting all nations; killed Jews and Infidels.”

In the spirit of anti-ethics, here’s the pseudo-announcement:



Go deep undercover.
Relinquish all moral and civil values.
Break multiple time-honored laws and regulations.
Be considered a traitor according to the U.S. Constitution, which is punishable by DEATH.

Note: Be sure to ask about our “One-Way Ticket to Paradise ” hiring special. Details available at your nearest suicide training camp.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't Believe Everything You Read!

Dining with Donald H. Rumsfeld, second from left, during his final week as secretary of defense were the retired officers Donald W. Shepperd, left, Thomas G. Mcnerney and Steven J. Greer.

Over the past several years retired Command Sergeant Major Steven Greer and I have become good friends, on a personal and professional level. I've shared things with him that I don't tell most people, and vice versa. Steve was a U.S. Army Special Forces operator. We know some of the same people, and share some of the same interests in combating terror. I respect Steve and I trust him. I've asked for his advice and help more than once and he's always been willing to assist.

He and I have talked about everything from 9/11 terrorists to GITMO prisoners to media consulting. (Note: He's been on Fox News over 200 times.) I've read his works and he's read mine. After I was interviewed on about Sex Crimes and Jihad, I suggested the editor interview Steve, and he did. I've asked Steve's opinion on certain matters and he has asked mine on occasion. "Is there anything you want me to ask the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales?" He wrote me once from his Blackberry, "I'm meeting with him in a bit." I responded with a comment and a question. When he got out of the meeting he told me he asked the question. I laughed in delight and humor.

Once he emailed me before and after taking his picture with Tony Snow, the White House Press Secretary, in the White House! When he went to GITMO, he told me what he really thought, and invited me to go down there.

Steve once introduced me to Jed Babbin, a former under secretary of defense, and other people in political circles. He has read my unpublished works about the troubles with aviation security and homeland defense, and my thoughts on terrorism. Because he understands the enemy we face (terrorists) and the enemy within (ourselves), he has encouraged me to write and go public.

When an air marshal from Las Vegas, Spencer Pickard, showed his face on the ABC's 20/20, Steve contacted me. He's introduced me to people in the media, but as an undercover air marshal, I couldn't go public at that time. At least I didn't want to until I had another job lined up, especially not after what happened to Spencer, who by the way, I think was a courageous, good-to-go guy. (See "Air Marshals Say They Fear Managers More Than Terrorists")

When the Virginia Tech shootings occurred, Steve introduced me to several more media contacts, endorsed me and encouraged me to give my expertise on the matter. I had left the air marshal service and within a very short time I got called up to Iraq. The good news is I can now go public when I get home, and the other good news is I've saved a lot of money on my car insurance this year.

Having said all of that, I totally trust Steve Greer.

The New York Times piece might have a few things right, but for the most part, you should never believe everything you read. Here's the link to the article in question, and below is the response by CSM Steven J. Greer U.S. Army Special Forces (ret.):

I'm the sole retired enlisted member of this military analyst group. I wason several trips to Gitmo, Iraq, etc. I attended countless briefings at thePentagon. I spoke with Mr. Barstow regarding this story and take no issuewith what he has reported. I've provided (still do weekly) hundreds ofpro-bono T.V. and radio interviews regarding our efforts in the WOT. Accessto DOD and the Secretary has been instrumental in providing viewers andfamilies with the most accurate commentary possible. I at no time felt theslightest pressure from DOD to sway my remarks. I have no contractual orfinancial interests associated with the war effort. My intent, and that ofmany of the very professional retired officers I worked with in this group,was to support our men and women in the fight. The very troops we recentlyserved along side of and had responsibility for training and preparing forthe war. I can't say we got it right 100% of the time...we are human. I cansay that our collective efforts were noble and well-intended. I can'timagine what the MSM would have done to the morale of our force had we notbeen so engaged. I have a great deal of respect for Secretary Rumsfeldwhich is not to say I agreed with everything DOD provided us. The analyst'shave hundred's of years of experience and are savvy enough to recognizetalking points that don't quite jive with facts on the ground. By in large,all of us provided a good service to the American people and to our bravetroops serving around the world.

— CSM (Ret) Steve Greer, Eastman, GA

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mormons & Polygamy

President Thomas S. Monson

I wanted to touch briefly upon a subject that has gained much attention lately in the media. First of all, know that the illegal and reprehensible actions that have gone on at the polygamous compound in Texas are NOT done by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. Mormon or LDS Church). They are, however, a fundamentalist movement that is a break-off of the aforementioned religion -- my religion.

For those who have suffered untold pain, especially the children in this brutal and unfathomable time capsule-like Texas compound, I offer my heartfelt sympathies. It makes me upset and sad. It makes me angry. Who would dare violate the sanctity of a child's innocence except a wicked and evil man? Those who do evil in the name of religion -- any religion -- are only acting in behalf of the devil.

Recently I was asked to give a talk in church. I delivered that talk today. I spoke about prophets. I also spoke ever briefly upon the leader of the LDS Church, sustained by the church members as the president of the church as well its prophet, who did away with the practice of polygamy. His name was Wilford Woodruff. The following record was written by him and sustained by a unanimous vote on October 6, 1890.

Inasmuch as such laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, and use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

With that, the practice of polygamy was ceased among members of the LDS Church.

The Mormon church was founded in 1830. Polygamy was practiced among only a few members of the faith beginning around 1843 and on to the late 1800s. It was based on the fact that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, as well as Moses, David and Solomon had many wives and concubines, and, save it be for David and his sin with Uriah's wife, it was justifiable before God. At times it has been allowed and, perhaps, it will again one day in the future.

Any Mormon who espouses, sympathizes or associates with those who practice polygamy today, however, stand in jeopardy of having their names and records removed from the Church. Excommunication for anyone engaged in such a thing is swift. That is not something Church officials take lightly.

You'll recall the warning Jesus gave his disciples: "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

He then gave a way to discern these false prophets.

"Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:15-16)

There is a dire need to have continuing revelation today. That is God's pattern. He has chosen prophets since the beginning to lead the people. Yet "many are prone to garnish the sepulchers of yesterdays prophets and mentally stone the living ones." (Instructor, 95:527.) Others may simply have never known that a living prophet is alive today.

I fully believe and feel convinced by the Holy Spirit, which is a testifier of all truth, that President Thomas S. Monson is a true, living prophet of God today.

I will close with his most recent words:

I know without question, my brothers and sisters, that God lives. I testify to you that this is His work. I testify as well that our Savior Jesus Christ is at the head of this Church, which bears His name. I know that the sweetest experiences in all this life is to feel His promptings as He directs us in the furtherance of His work. ...I testify that each one of us can feel the Lord's inspiration as we live worthily and strive to serve Him. (Conference Report April 2008, "Looking Back and Moving Forward")

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Airport Security

I'm not sure who the "Happy" gentleman from Utah is who left a comment on my last blog. Nor do I know how he found my blog, though I'm curious.

I went to his blog and found myself laughing and feeling his frustration too. He wrote something on his experience at the Salt Lake City airport recently. His blog read, in part:

..."Daddy, why is this line so long?" My 7-year-old asked.

"Because security is ridiculous," I answered.

Disapproving glares were shot at me from all sides...

I am suddenly an advocate of the bullet-train.

I couldn't agree more. You're automatically a friend of mine, Mr. Happyback and 'Thwarter of Evil.' LOL.

See his "Protecting Our Skies" blog, HERE.

Friday, April 18, 2008

URGENT MUST-READ Message to Anyone Who Flies

"Anybody who messes with any of our new rookies out of the academy will be dead!"

It would be ludicrous for any Chief of Police to make such a comment, right? Well, it wasn't so comical to me when Kip Hawley, the Director of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was quoted as saying something darn close recently in a article by Chris Strohm.

First, I think I should give a quick history lesson. Don't worry, it won't take long.

The TSA was spun up by an overzealous, panicky government after 9/11. The knee-jerk reaction of a lot of government workers who didn't have a clue about the real threat of terrorism, would soon create an entity (none other than the TSA) that in many ways would become an unmanageable mess.

Just days after 9/11, an Israeli official lambasted the U.S. saying we didn't know anything about counter terrorism. President Bush was upset by that comment and asked for an official apology. And, perhaps rightly so, since he had stood on the rubble at ground zero and the last thing anyone would want to hear was a cruel remark. But, however undiplomatic the statement and the timing of it was, I'm reminded of the cliche', "sometimes the truth hurts."

Many thought airport security was bad before 9/11, but then the government got involved. Yikes! (This is where the Israelis were right.) The long lines, the frustrated travelers. Grandma was getting stripped-searched and fingernail clippers were banned. Shoot, a 12-year-old could do more damage with a No. 2 pencil.

Over time, if my memory serves me correctly, and it usually does except for when trying to remember my kids' birthdays, a policy was put in place that no more than two Arab-looking males could receive extra screening at one time because that would be "racial profiling." Meanwhile, a gray-haired Granny from Tulsa in her wheelchair was still being hassled. And knives, bullets and even a sword once were still getting past the "highly trained" airport security guards and onto the airplanes.

There were multiple TSA directors fired and replaced in a very short period of time. Sounds fishy, eh? Too, you might recall that several hundred thousand dollars was spent frivolously on plastic plants and art work in the TSA Headquarters Office near Washington DC. Our hard-earned tax dollars were spent well. (There's a vomit-like taste in my mouth.)

I would have as soon become a truck driver than battle the TSA Bologna and bureaucracy, but...

After 9/11, I lived and worked in Israel. The security at the airport there was exceptional. I never got hassled. I didn't have to take off my shoes or my belt, and the lines were fast. Instead of staying in Israel when the job offer came, still feeling quite patriotic and feeling that perhaps the federal government would be a good place for me to spend the next 20 years, I accepted a position as a Federal Air Marshal (FAM). As an undercover federal counter terrorism officer riding in U.S. comercial airplanes, I could help keep America safe.

It didn't take long to learn that the promises we were given weren't going to come to fruition. (No, you say, the government wouldn't lie, would they? I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news.) In addition, there were all kinds of weird things occurring, like one time at Dulles Airport where I had to allow an unarmed TSA security guard search my carry on bag. Go figure. I could carry a concealed gun, a bunch of ammo, and a knife or two on my person, but my bag had to be searched? It turned out there was a new guy in charge at that airport. Psst, I think he was a former Secret Service agent with Tom Quinn.

Anyway, the FAM motto "unseen, unheard and unafraid" would soon reveal just the opposite. The policies by Tom Quinn, the then-Director of the FAM Service, literally jeopardized the national security of America. After three years of personal disgust with the defunct agency, I had to resign. And, I wasn't alone. Several of us left.

A buddy of mine who was formerly with US Navy Special Warfare -- in other words he was a SEAL -- recently wrote to me and said he can't take much humiliation any longer. He wants out too. I can't blame him. It seems like lately I know more FORMER air marshals than actual working ones.

The lowering of standards on who the nascent agency chose to hire, and the shooting qualification standards among people who were literally called among "the best shooters in law enforcement", were questionable when I got there. (Note, I'm a Top Gun I can put my gun where my mouth is. ...Uh, that didn't sound quite right.)

Before I left, though, it got even worse. They started hiring Federal Air Marshals from within the TSA. Oh boy, did that ever start a stir. They wanted to hire -- and currently are hiring -- security guards from the airport who might not have ever carried a gun in their life!


The majority of those initially hired as FAMs were guys who had an incredible amount of law enforcement or special operations experience. (Shout Out: Hi Paul! Note: He and I were both SWAT Team Leaders who interviewed together. He's lucky he didn't take the job.)

Once word got out that the FAM Service was a dangerous and defunct organization, many qualified applicants refused to sign up. On the corollary, the pool of applicants who were standing near the x-ray machines at O'Hare or LAX would jump at the chance to carry a concealed weapon.

(Disclaimer: By no means am I suggesting that the airport screeners -- officially called Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) -- all have poor performance records, though many have been caught cheating on tests, sleeping on duty, etc. One person said TSA should really mean, Thousands Standing Around. I guess what I'm trying to say is that job doesn't exactly draw out the "best of the best.")

Whew! All that for this.

Here's a portion of the aforementioned Chris Strohm article, titled, "TSA Chief Kip Hawley Will Allow Air Marshal Whistleblowers to Speak with Lawmakers":

The head of the Transportation Security Administration Friday expressed complete confidence in the Federal Air Marshal Service and said he will let marshals speak freely to lawmakers.

"The air marshals are a critical part of the [Homeland Security] Department's capability. We are well staffed to cover the critical flights we need," TSA Administrator Kip Hawley said. "I feel highly confident -- as confident as anything that I've been exposed to in the government -- that this air marshal team is ready to go."

Controversy over the service was recently renewed when current and former marshals told CNN that less than 1 percent of commercial flights are being protected.

The air marshal service disputes the figure, but says the exact number is classified. Rank-and-file marshals have feuded with the service's leadership on and off since the service was expanded after the 9/11 terrorist attacks...

...Hawley defended the practice of allowing airport Transportation Security Officers -- formerly called screeners -- to become air marshals.

Some air marshals criticize the practice, arguing that TSOs do not have the necessary law enforcement background. According to TSA, 36 screeners have become air marshals.

"Trust me, you do not want to mess with those guys," Hawley said. "Anybody who messes with a flight having a TSO on it who is now an air marshal will be dead."

My response: Yeah, because they don't have enough real life experience to accurately judge shoot/no-shoot scenarios!

A CURRENT air marshal, P. Jeffrey Black, said of the comment:

Hawley should have been fired on the spot for making such an inflammatory remark publicly. What do you think would happen to any police chief who publicly said, "Anybody who messes with any of our new rookies out of the academy will be dead"!

Alas, every current and former Federal Air Marshal -- and all concerned citizens -- I urge you to contact your government representatives today. Now is your chance to be heard. Do it for the sake of U.S. national security, and for the safety of your family and mine.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Great Advice

The best thing a father can do is love their mother.

-- Theodore Hasburgh

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Little Miracles

I used to interpret American Sign Language (ASL) for some people in our church congregation when we lived in Colorado Springs, near the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. On occasion, I'd go over to my friend's home, who was deaf, and we'd visit other members in our congregation. It was interesting, to say the least, to drive and watch him sign and sign back to him. That was probably more distracting than talking on a cell phone or text messaging while driving.

At any rate, one of my dear friends in California, who is a professional ASL interpreter, sent me these pictures in an email titled, A Story With No Words.

The Last Year

I've been away from home for over a year, mostly in Iraq. Boy, has it been tough.

My Uncle Bill sent me the classic Walt Disney film, Old Yeller, several months ago. I used to love watching that show as a kid.

After the boy buries his beloved dog, his dad has a heartfelt talk with his son. I suppose I put myself into the situation, considering my year of trials. Here's the conversation they had.

Father: Come sit down, son. That was rough, son. Roughest thing I've ever heard tell [inaudible]. But I'm mighty proud of how my boy stood up to it. ' Couldn't have asked more of a grown man. The thing to do now is try and forget it. Go on being a man.

Son: How, Pa? How you gonna forget somethin' like that?

Father: I guess I don't quite mean that. But it's not a thing you can forget. Maybe not even a thing you want to forget. What I'm tryin' to say is life's like that sometimes.

Son: Like what?

Father: Well, now and then for no good reason a man can figure out, life will just haul off and knock him flat. Slam him in the ground so hard it seems like all his insides are busted. But it's not all like that. A lot of it's mighty fine. And you can't afford to waste the good part frettin' about the bad. That makes it all bad. You understand what I'm trying to get at?

Son: Yes sir. Just that...

Father: Ah, sure, I know. Sayin' it's one thing and feelin' it's another. But I'll tell you a trick that some time's a big help. When you start looking around for something good to take the place of the bad, as a general rule you can find it.

I can hardly wait to see my wife and children again. They are my 'good thing' -- my happy thought.

Thoreau's Reflections

Several years ago I purchased Henry David Thoreau's Walden. One thing he wrote, I jotted down and added it to my e-document of personal favorite quotes. He wrote,

No man ever stood lower in my estimation for having a patch in his clothes; yet I am sure that there is a greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscious.

My Wife's Book Club Choice

Thee lift me and I will lift thee and we'll both ascend together.
--John Greenleaf Wittier

It's my wife's turn to suggest a book for her book club. She's chosen to have everyone in her group read Jeff Evan's Mountain Vision: Lessons Beyond the Summit. My mother-in-law read it a while back. She absolutely loved it and could hardly wait to share it. It's one of the best books I've ever read. There aren't many books I've read more than once, but I definitely plan on reading Mountain Vision again.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Male Call

The following article was published in the military mini-newspaper, the Stars and Stripes: Mideast Edition. It made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it.

Male Call: Guys don't usually call a buddy just to chat

Q: MY QUESTION is this: What is the difference between men and women and how they communicate? Either with each other or just in general.
— Gabrielle

A: We'd love to hear the details of the situation that prompted you to ask this question, Gabby. Did you have a frustrating encounter with a male loved one recently, perhaps? Maybe one too many monosyllabic responses to your heartfelt "penny for your thoughts" attempts at meaningful dialogue?

Or maybe your question is strictly academic, in which case that's sort of too bad, because we usually are better with anecdotal answers, rather than, you know, science-y ones. But! As it happens, there is some research that addresses this very question.

Before we try to remember what it was, however, here is our standard caveat when discussing the differences between men and women: Obviously, not all women act in a particular way, and not all men act in a particular way. There are always exceptions.

So if we say guys like beer and the NFL, we don't mean all guys, everywhere. In some countries, they don't even have the NFL. So let's all try not to be so literal, OK?

The standard theory about differences in communication styles between the sexes goes something like this: Women talk to analyze and empathize about problems; men talk to impart information. That's why guys rarely call someone "just to chat." (Also, we don't say "chat.") When we call someone, it's usually to get or give some specific information:

Guy 1: "Hello?"
Guy 2: "What's up?"
Guy 1: "Nothing."
Guy 2: "You watching the game later?"
Guy 1: "Yeah, come on over."
Guy 2: "'K. Oh, wait, I wanted to tell you about this situation that came up at work, that really left me feeling odd. There's this new department head who everyone seems to like, but he totally has not given me the time of day. Like just today "..."
Guy 1: Click.

Ha! See what we did there? Guy 2's last response was more typical of something a woman might say in that situation. We did it for the contrast, which is pretty striking, no? The idea is that men (generally) communicate on a need-to-know basis. Women communicate to bond.

At least that is one of the theories espoused by Deborah Tannen, who wrote "You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation."

And we have no reason to doubt her, even though we're not quite sure why it took a whole book to convey information that could have been summed up on a cocktail napkin. Oh wait, it's because of her gender! Anyway, the thing to remember, Gabby, is that neither way is all right or all wrong. Just because a guy doesn't talk about his feelings much doesn't mean he doesn't know how to communicate. It just means he doesn't know how to communicate like women do.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Words to Live By

I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable.

...[So] Speak hopefully. Speak encouragingly, including about yourself. Try not to complain and moan incessantly...

...Yes, life has its problems, and yes, there are negative things to face, but... no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse.

--Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Ensign, "The Tongue of Angels," May 2007, pp. 17-18.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


"Nationally, it kills an average of two people per hour, 45 per day, and 315 per week with no regard for age, gender, race, or religion. Last year, 15,786 people were killed."

As terrible and as sad as it is to have 4,000 U.S. troops killed in the last five years of war, I wish more would speak up about this!

What is it? Give up? Go here to find out.

Irreligion and My Vote for U.S. President

Admit it, you talk to yourself. I do too. In fact, we all do. We might not talk out loud, but we say words in our minds. There is profound power in thought and in word.

When I was 18 I read Norman Vincent Peale's The Power of Positive Thinking. When I was 25, I read it again. I found it interesting that in a society that is increasingly irreligious, Mr. Peale often referenced the Bible, and a belief and dependency in God and Jesus Christ. But I soon remembered that the book in my possession was one of the original copies. It was old. Back when he wrote it, talking about Christianity wasn't considered a social faux pas as it is now. That's too bad.

We've changed so drastically as a society that we seem to appease the 'different' and the minorities verses the masses. We must be friendly towards everyone. Diversity is a good thing. However, I intend to specifically address the Gay and Lesbian community.

Recently Barack Obama interviewed with homosexual media outlets, according to an AP report I saw. He stated, in so many words, that he would do all he could to allow openly gay people to serve in the military. He said he would make Clinton's liberal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy even more...well, liberal. Furthermore, he stated that he would do all in his power to allow same-sex couples in so-called civil unions to have federal benefits.

After studying and weighing all of the issues and stances of the three current U.S. presidential candidates, I have concluded, without reservation, that I will not vote for either Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama. That leaves John McCain as my choice for U.S. President, by default.

Speaking specifically of the family, it's a sad state of affairs when things are done in direct opposition to strengthening the family, the fundamental unit of society. I believe we must not shift with the tide of immorality or irreligion. We must not shun or berate or condemn those who are homosexuals; we should love everyone. But we must not abandon time-tested values and principles that have made America good. We must be loving and accepting of all people, but that does not mean we must embrace the sinful acts of any person.

A few decades ago I wouldn't have had to say this, but now I feel it's like I must prepare defend myself from a potential onslaught of criticism from voicing myself in this way. Several years ago I contacted my U.S. Congressmen and Senator over the matter. While trying to have others do the same, in support of family, there were some who called me 'close-minded,' a religious zealot and a bigot, but none of these was -- or is -- the case. There is plainly a right and a wrong. There is good and there is bad. God exists and so does Satan. And, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, when we do good we feel good, and when we do bad, we feel bad.

I will not go into it here, but some have said that what two people do in the privacy of their own dwellings has no affect upon a community or a society. That is simply erroneous. It is false. It is a lie perpetuated by the Father of lies, Lucifer himself.

What should be viewed as taboo or 'bad form' shouldn't be that I'm standing up for time-honored moral principles, but that now I am viewed as the minority.

Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said something worth ending with. Said he,

"It mattereth not whether the principle is popular or unpopular, I will always maintain a true principle, even if I stand alone in it." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 322)

For your convenience a link to The Family: A Proclamation to the World is included here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Family

My smile was effervescent as I listened on the phone to our youngest daughter. She's only two years old. I didn't know she could sing her ABCs, but she did. She also sang to me, "I am a Child of God," which my wife and I used to sing with the kids each night before tucking them into bed.

It's pretty amazing how much they've all grown. Our baby could barely walk before I left. She couldn't even say "Daddy." The older ones have changed so much too...just in pictures. It will be interesting to see how they've developed over the last year.

I'm so incredibly excited to get home and spend quality and quantity time with my wife and children. I miss them terribly. They are my highest priority. After being separated from them for so long and living in a war zone, I can really feel now -- not just hear -- what one leader eruditely observed, when he said: "No success can compensate for failure in the home."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Teamwork and Communication

I recently read that it is estimated that stress costs American businesses $300 billion a year in lost productivity, insurance costs, and turnover.

I believe that there are numerous ways to beat stress. Among the first things that must be recognized by leaders in any industry or organization is that while the mission (or in corporate terms, the bottom-line) is critically important, the mission cannot come before the people. People matter most. Without people -- without healthy, productive employees -- the mission will fail.

I've designed and have taught multiple courses on healthy Interpersonal Communication and Teamwork. Without these essential and integral components, nothing can be accomplished. With with them, however, there is nothing that we cannot do. Likely with this in mind, the famed Roman Poet, Horace, wrote, "Nil mortalibus arduum est." (Nothing is too difficult for mortals to accomplish.) But I would add only if wisely led.

Returning From Iraq, My Future Looks Bright

When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.

-Alexander Graham Bell

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Combat Stress and Coming Home

Coming home from war is a longer journey than any plane flight home.
--Senator Bob Dole, WWII veteran

Soon after being mobilized with the U.S. Army Reserves to come here to Iraq, handfuls of soldiers from the unit I'm currently in began to panic. Some feigned illness and others concocted stories in order to stay some. A few soldiers went AWOL. Still, others attempted suicide and wound up in the hospital.

We had a long and arduous train-up in the states. It was ten times worse than boot camp. We lived in a crowded living space in tents for literally months. Because of poor leadership, before even getting to the war zone, the morale of the troops was destroyed, unfortunately. It hasn't gotten any easier on the troops over the past year. I know because I've asked and they've told me. Unfortunately, I have not be able to help them other than listen to their concerns, and that's been terribly difficult for me personally.

Yesterday I attended a re-deployment briefing given by a medic and the Chaplain. There are physical, mental and emotional health concerns that need to be addressed prior to going home. I believe that 1 in 4 troops suffer from anxiety, depression and other forms of change after prolonged time in a combat zone. This so-called Combat Stress doesn't necessarily occur with seeing or experiencing death or war fighting alone, but can occur from long term...well, stress. It's hard to explain the pressures to anyone who hasn't experienced it themselves, and of course, everyone has different experiences based on their leadership, the mission, personal events, etc.

Families and friends simply won't understand what soldiers have been through. It just cannot be articulated, only experienced.

But I learned many years ago as a police officer that my wife's challenges from having frustrations with the washing machine breaking or the kids disobeying and so forth could feel to her like an enormous problem. My cop buddies would say in surprise that something so seemingly trivial meant nothing by comparison. On one hand a bad day at work for a cop meant almost getting stabbed or shot by a prostitute on crack who likely had Hepatitis C or HIV, while on the other hand not having the TV work seemed quite trivial. I have learned that is just not the case. Each of us has problems and suffer in our own ways, so having an 'I've had it worse than you have' conversation wouldn't be wise. Besides, my wife HAS had it rough. She's as lonely and frustrated as I have been. She's had to suffer through this war with me. She's the real hero in my eyes, not me.

In the Chaplain's brief he explained that reunion can be different or difficult. It was when I came back from working overseas before. She's used to making all of the decisions and I want to come back and try to change things or get involved. My wife has spent more time with her girlfriends. There may be jealousy of time, as in I would want the attention and think that she should not spend time talking with her friends as much as she has been.

There are financial differences, among them being all of my self-employment plans were devastated with this unsuspected and involuntary call to war. Our entire future has changed. I am ready for some semblance of regularity I can trust. I am ready for stability. Personally, I am ready to get out of the Reserves. I do not ever want to experience this again in my life, and I would hope my sons do not have to either.

Our home has changed. Things look different. Our kids have grown. Our baby girl doesn't even know me. There's a period of re-learning. Both of us will need greater patience. Fortunately, I have never been one to say mean things or be outwardly angry. I never would hurt others or myself. Unfortunately, others would.

Some resort to drinking heavily too. Fortunately, we do not.

There may be friends who would like to see me. I've been surrounded by people, so if anything I need a break. I might have to tell people that I need some time alone or just with my family.

Before leaving one of my good friends who had come back from being here told me that going to Iraq is like putting your life on hold for a year. Everything back home goes on, but your life stands still. It's a year out of your life that you simply cannot make up.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Habib means Friend

I sat down last night with two Iraqi military men. Ali and Hassan. Ali, an officer, spoke broken English and had to translate for his "good soldier," as he called Hassan.

Ali has been supporting the U.S. ever since the ousting of Saddam. He has a wife and a child that he rarely sees. He does not live with them and has not in a few years. I told him that sometimes we complain because we have to leave our families and come over here, but pointed out that he hasn't been able to stop fighting since soon after the invasion. He said that at least he is able to visit occasionally and call them on his cell phone. For his personal safety and that of his family, I am deliberately leaving out a lot of details.

He told me about some of the American friends he had when he worked in Ramadi and Fallujah in 2005. I had some friends in that area then too, and since we had just moved from that area we had a lot to talk about.

He told us of how a soldier of his was shot in front of him while they were on a joint U.S. military patrol against the insurgents in Ramadi. He told of how afterwords the U.S. troops killed the insurgent who had killed his soldier.

I asked Hassan how old he was. He looked about 17, but he was slightly older. Since family (especially father's) are important in the Iraqi society, I asked Hassan (through Ali) what kind of work his dad did. "His dad is dead," Ali replied.

"Oh," I gulped. "I'm sorry," and I put my hand over my heart in sympathy. Then I did what many would be uncomfortable doing. I even felt a little uncomfortable asking, but I questioned, "How did he die?"

His father was in the Iraqi National Guard and was shot by a "terrorist", Ali translated, in Ramadi in "two-zero-zero-five" (2005). Hassan later joined the Iraqi Army. He has two small siblings and his mother is a widow.

I look forward to seeing my new friends again.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Many, many years ago while in a student government leadership position in high school, I went to a giant leadership training conference. It was there that I met a man who called himself The Original Mike Smith. He was a captivating motivational speaker. I vowed at that time to become a more intriguing, inspirational public speaker.

A few years later while speaking to an audience and making them laugh and feel better, I was approached by a woman whom I had never before met. She praised my performance and suggested that I move to California to be a motivational speaker. Since that time I've given hundreds of speeches to a variety of groups in over eight states and three countries. I've even been invited to speak at churches (of different religions than my own), high schools and universities, civic groups, clubs, corporate professionals, police departments, and various seminars and conferences.

After hearing me speak, I've been approached by attorney's suggesting that I become a trial lawyer, and I've been told by others that I ought to speak professionally. Still, others say I need to be a news media consultant. Of course, I think all of that would be terrific. With a desire to market myself more as a professional speaker, I contacted the Original Mike Smith at the beginning of last year. I thanked him for serving as such a positive example to me. He's all but out of the business now and his son has taken charge, for the most part, of his company, Difference Makers. They mainly focus on speaking at high schools. I'm not opposed to that, but I'd prefer a wider corporate audience.

When I first heard Mike speak he handed out a copy of a few poems he had written and used in his speech. I memorized them that day. It's amazing that I can still recall them, nearly perfectly by rote. There is once I'd like to share here. Not only is it great for me to hear it, but I can think of another person who it really might help today too.

I know it isn't easy
When things look bleak and dark
To curl my lips and tell my eyes
It's time for them to spark!

But smiling on the outside
Will warm your insides so,
My smile will make another smile
Then two smiles will glow!

So through life's troubles I ride
Behind a smiling face.
I smile and pass it warmly on
And make a better place.

Note: If you know of any group interested in having me speak on overcoming challenges, human relations, attitude, or SMART Leadership -- a program I designed -- or similiar self-help and team-building topics, I'll be available soon.

Mitt Romney is my cousin

This is no April Fool's Day joke.

One of my heroes is my great-great-great grandpa, Parley Parker Pratt. I've written about him in my blog before and have longed to see his grave site in Arkansas. Being interested in his life and in law enforcement studies, I have thoroughly studied his death as well as his life. As a leader in the Mormon church in the 1800's, he was assassinated. Likewise, so was the founder of the religion, Joseph Smith, along with his brother, the church Patriarch, Hyrum Smith. I know details of that event - and have insight of that attack - that nearly no other Mormons do.

When I was in the seventh grade I recall the most effort I ever put into a report was on a topic of my choosing: the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. I know details 'normal' people do not surrounding John Hinckley's failed attempt to murder Ronald Reagan in his twisted, erotic desire to impress actress Jodie Foster. Likewise, I've been to the library where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK, and in the basement of the old Dallas Police station where Jack Ruby shot him dead. The public wasn't - and isn't - allowed down there.

Most Americans don't know that President's McKinley and Garfield were also assassinated. Many don't know that Charles Manson's girl puppet, "Squeaky" Fromme, tried to shoot Gerald Ford, and nearly succeeded, but some still recall that it was Sirhan Sirhan who shot and killed Presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy. That said, I've spoken at length to multiple members of the U.S. Secret Service charged with protecting the Office of the U.S. President. They have a tough job. There are plenty of kooks, cranks and crazies willing and ready to murder Obama or Clinton or McCain....or my distant cousin, Mitt Romney.

Well, Parley Pratt had multiple wives. His first wife died, so he didn't have a dozen wives at once, as I recall. Of course, the Mormon church does not espouse, endorse or practice polygamy today. In fact, church leaders condemn it and excommunication is the result for those who near such a thing. But back in the 1800s, the practice was allowed and legal.

The following recently released Associated Press report is how I found out Romney is my distant cousin.

Arkansas Judge says remains of early Mormon leader can be moved to Utah

VAN BUREN, Ark. — The remains of an early Mormon leader murdered 151 years ago in Arkansas can be moved to Utah for burial as long as other burial sites are not disturbed, a judge has ruled.

A descendant of Parley Parker Pratt, an original member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was granted a petition to remove the remains from a Mormon-owned cemetery near Rudy for burial at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

One of Pratt's dying wishes was for his body to be returned to Utah, said attorney Robert J. Grow of Salt Lake City, a great-great-great grandson.

Grow said Pratt will have two wives to his left and two wives to his right in the Salt Lake City Cemetery and the reburial will help close a chapter in the family's history.

Pratt's descendants include former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is Pratt's great-great-grandson.

Crawford County Circuit Judge Gary Cottrell said Wednesday that because radar showed that three or four people are buried at the same site, Pratt's descendants must be sure to remove only Pratt's remains.

"The problem here is you'd be asking me to possibly disinter bodies that weren't kin to you," the judge told Grow. "The question is are you able to disinter others to which you are not kin? I don't want multiple disinterments."

Grow said he believed descendants know which body is Pratt's. A granite monument was erected in 1951 to mark the property. "If it's not Parley, we certainly don't want to move anybody else," Grow told the judge. Records show the other bodies nearby are probably children.

Grow will have to get a disinterment permit from the Arkansas Department of Health. Department spokesman Ed Barham said those permits are issued to a licensed funeral director and usually take a couple of days.

Putnam Funeral Home of Fort Smith is helping the descendants, and the descendants plan to have archaeologists dig up the body later this month. Pratt's descendants hope to also identify the body on the basis of stab wounds on chest bones and gunshot wounds.

Pratt is honored in Salt Lake City with a statue at the corner of 2300 East and Parleys Way, a road named for him. Below the statue are the names of his many wives and children. A park and a canyon also bear his first name.

Pratt was chosen by Joseph Smith as one of the first Mormon apostles. A religious writer and missionary, he also counseled Brigham Young. While on a mission to the Southern states, he was accused by Californian Hector McLean in a lawsuit of causing estrangement in McLean's marriage. Eleanor McLean became Pratt's 12th wife.

Although Pratt was exonerated by the court, McLean and two accomplices pursued Pratt to Alma, where they fired at and stabbed him. Pratt died May 13, 1857.

Some historians believe Pratt's murder led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah of some 200 Arkansas pioneers on their way to California. But most scholars discount the connection, said Jan Shipps, professor emeritus of history and religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Rapper Snoop Dogg -- Anyone Can Change

April Fool's. The joke is on me.

I've had to edit this post and I apologize. That picture is fake, and the story here: is NOT the real CNN. I really fell for that one. Someone got me good. I don't think it's very funny though. I do not trifle with sacred things, and my religion and The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ is sacred to me. Besides, "Mr. Dogg" could probably sue for character defamation. I'm sure he'd like to keep his bad-boy image untainted, as it were. Nevertheless I'm reminded of what Dr. Robert Ornstein wrote in his book Healthy Pleasures.

When confronted with a threatening situation, animals have essentiall two choices: to flee or fight. Humans have a third alternative: to laugh.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Wonderful Life

The other day I told a co-worker that I would love to simply go rent a movie and enjoy a peaceful night at home, relaxing. I told him I'd choose to watch Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. He looked at me like I was weird. That's when I confided in him that even my children know that Rodgers and Hammerstein's Sound of Music was my all-time favorite movie -- that is until the cleverly written Pirates of the Caribbean came along. It's impossible to describe the look I then received.

What can I say? -- I enjoy classic literature, Classical music and easy listening tunes, like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I have for many years. It has made me quite an anomaly among those of my generation, but oh well.

My life is absolutely wonderful. With the bitter comes the sweet. It is the fine associations of good, trustworthy friends and especially family that help make life great. I am one of the most fortunate men in the world because of my incredible wife. No relationship is perfect and ours isn't either, but I recognize how great I really do have it.

My life is great and I feel tremendously blessed. Sometimes, like Jimmy Stewart's character in It's a Wonderful Life, we have to suffer through the trials to recognize how really blessed we are and to put our priorities in order.