I really just haven’t been getting NEARLY enough attention lately ― and I get that it’s hard for people to give me the amount of attention I deserve ― so hey, blog is back. Look forward to lots of this.


Obama Campaign Manager: Jon Huntsman Would Have Been Tougher Candidate

Huntsman family just prior to John Huntsman announcing his presidential bid on June 21, 2011 at Liberty State Park. (Mel Evans/AP)

In an interview with Politico‘s Mike Allen, Jim Messina, the 2012 Obama campaign’s manager, revealed that his team believed that former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who also served as President Obama’s Ambassador to China, would likely have been a tougher general election opponent than Mitt Romney.

“Um, hmm, that’s a good question,” Messina said when Allen asked him which GOP candidate he believed would have had the best chance of beating Obama. “Look, I think we were honest with our concerns about [Jon] Huntsman. I think Huntsman would have been a very tough general election candidate. And as someone who helped manage his confirmation for the Chinese ambassador, I can tell you, you know, he’s a good guy, we look at his profile in a general election and thought he would be difficult.”

When Allen suggested that Obama’s team chose Huntsman as the ambassador to China in order to take him off the “chess board,” Messina responded, “No, I thought he was a committed American who would serve our country well, and he did.”

Abby Huntsman Livingston, Huntsman’s daughter who campaigned for her father before and during the Republican primaries, told the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday that it was great to hear “confirmation” from the Obama campaign about her father’s appeal.

“My dad is a principled, thoughtful and experienced leader ready to tackle the challenges of the 21st century,” Abby Livingston said. “In fact, many of the ideas he spoke to during the primaries, Republicans now recognize as a message more in line with a majority of Americans.”

In 2009, senior Obama adviser David Plouffe expressed concern over a potential Huntsman candidacy, with reporter Nikki Schwab describing Plouffe as “a wee bit queasy” over the possibility. “I think the one person in that party who might be a potential presidential candidate is Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah,” said Plouffe at the time. “I think he’s really out there and speaking a lot of truth about the direction of the party.”

Huntsman’s brief presidential campaign ended on January 16, 2012, when he dropped out of the race after placing third in the New Hampshire primary behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul. After ending his candidacy, Huntsman tepidly endorsed Romney, who eventually became the party’s nominee but was defeated by President Obama in the general election.

Huntsman’s name was briefly rumored as a possible replacement for Hillary Clinton as President Obama’s Secretary of State. Huntsman currently sits on the boards of several private companies, including Ford Motor Company, and has said he has not ruled out the possibility of running again for public office.

Huntsman also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore from 1992-1993 under President George H. W. Bush, at the time the youngest U.S. ambassador the nation had appointed in over a century.

The BYU Caffeine Protests of 2012: A Chronology

Normally when BYU students throw fits about something, I’m all over it. But frankly I just missed this one. I don’t know what happened. Anyway, below I’ve put together a brief chronology of the world-rocking protests that have shook BYU’s campus over the past few weeks:

August 29, 2012 — The LDS church releases a statement on saying that “the Church does not prohibit the use of caffeine” and that the faith’s health-code reference to “hot drinks” “does not go beyond (tea and coffee).”

August 30, 2012 — The LDS Church’s official OK to caffeine receives national media attention. The Salt Lake Tribune publishes an article titled, “OK Mormons, drink up — Coke and Pepsi are OK.”

August 30, 2012 — BYU student Skyler Thiot creates a “BYU for Caffeine” Facebook page for his marketing class.

August 30, 2012 — The LDS Church removes the statement saying that “the Church does not prohibit the use of caffeine” and softens the wording in the released statement to say,  “the church revelation spelling out health practices … does not mention the use of caffeine.”

August 30, 2012 — BYU Spokeswoman Carri Jenkins tells the Salt Lake Tribune that BYU does not serve caffeinated beverages because there hasn’t “been a demand for it.” The ban on caffeinated sodas is “not a university or church decision but made by dining services, based on what our customers want.”

August 31, 2012 — Washington Post: “It’s Official: Coke and Pepsi are OK for Mormons.”

September 2, 2012 — The Facebook page “Petition to BYU Dining Services for DR Pepper and Other Sinless Drinks” is created.

September 6, 2012 — The Facebook page “BYU Against Caffeine” is created. Its mantra: “Let’s keep BYU the way it’s always been, caffeine free.” On September 16 the page had only gathered 56 likes.

September 7, 2012 — Skyler Thiot tells FOX 13, “When I started this Facebook page, I started getting people posting how counterproductive this was to the good of the church, how this was a terrible thing. I didn’t really understand, especially since we’re a week removed from the church saying caffeine is not against the Word of Wisdom.”

September 8, 2012 — Josh Belnap creates the Petition “Brigham Young University: Please offer caffeinated beverages on campus and at venues.” By September 16 the petition has received 965 signatures.

September 11, 2012 BYU’s Daily Universe: “‘No Demand’ for Caffeine at BYU?”

September 13, 2012 — Thiot shuts down the “BYU for Caffeine” Facebook page due to negative reactions. The page had received more than 2,300 likes.

September 14, 2012 — Another BYU student (likely Seth Howard) creates a second “BYU for Caffeine” Facebook page.

September 14, 2012 — BYU students, led by Seth Howard, plan a caffeine “protest” in Brigham Square where they would give away caffeinated beverages to passing students. Howard and his followers gave away around 50 cans of soda in three minutes before being asked to leave campus by BYU police.

Image source: Facebook.

“Mormons for Ron Paul,” Libertarians Protest Outside of Paul Ryan’s Provo Fundraiser

As Wisconsin Congressman and Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan had dinner with wealthy donors and spoke to local students in the new Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah, a small group of Libertarian protesters had their say on the sidewalk outside the event.

One man wore a dollar bill taped over his mouth and carried an American flag and alternating signs reading “Occupy Provo” and “A Vote for Romney is a Vote for the Status Quo.” Another man carried a large “Mormons for Ron Paul” sign, while a nearby woman carried “Vote for Gary Johnson” and “Romney/Ryan are Not Truly Conservative” signs. As Romney/Ryan donors left the convention center following the event, the woman supporting Gary Johnson shouted, “Ryan voted for the Patriot Act!”

How Long Will Innocent Children Be Slaughtered?

In the past week, over 100 innocent children have been tortured or murdered by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In total, a recent report from the U.K. estimates that over 1,300 children have been killed by al-Assad’s forces since the war began. Rimas Qatayfan, ~8 years old, was killed when al-Assad forces intentionally shelled civilian houses in her city on June 30, 2012. Mohammed Nihad al-Dalli, ~10 years old, was shot in the head and killed by a sniper on April 27, 2012. Every day more small children join this growing list of casualties.

As the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad attempts to thwart the will of the Syrian people who want to overthrow his brutal dictatorship, countless hundreds of small children have been caught in the crossfire. The British government is reporting that al-Assad’s forces have begun to intentionally target civilian homes and schools as a tactic to demoralize the Free Syrian Army who are challenging al-Assad’s control. A recent report from the U.N. states that al-Assad’s forces are also torturing the captured children of rebel fighters and are using them as human shields in combat.

Rayan Amjad al-Amyan, ~8 years old, murdered July 8 in Daraa, Syria, by al-Assad forces.

Numerous soldiers who have since defected from the al-Assad’s Syrian Army have reported that al-Assad’s forces are placing civilian children on tanks in order to deter rebels from firing or attacking as the tanks swept through rebel-controlled areas, typically killing more civilians in their paths.

In March a bus carrying al-Assad raiders pushed children — all younger than ten years old — against the bus windows to keep rebel forces from attacking their convoy. After the raiders carried out the attack, the children were summarily executed by the al-Assad soldiers.

Recent U.N. reports also show that al-Assad’s regime has been ruthlessly torturing children with whips, beatings, cigarette burns, and electrical cables and then sending the tortured or maimed children back to their families in order to deter them from helping Syrian opposition forces.

Videos available on YouTube — which will not be linked here because of their extremely disturbing and graphic content — show the aftermath of an al-Assad attack on the Syrian city of Aleppo earlier this week. Littering the streets were countless civilian corpses, including numerous women and children. Many of the bodies were burned or charred due to artillery from government tanks and helicopters. Dismembered torsos and limbs left behind by the government artillery had been gathered into a pile on one side of the street. The corpses of several small children lay clearly visible, dead not from artillery but from sniper bullets as the children had rushed into the street to recover their dead families. Survivors were forced to leave the corpses in the streets as al-Assad snipers ruthlessly shot anyone — including women and children — who came outdoors, even as the bodies of their family members rotted in the scorching Syrian sun.

As sad as it is, in war civilian deaths are always part of collateral damage, and that includes the unfortunate and unintended deaths of children. But what is happening in Syria is something entirely different. The deaths of these children are not unintentional collateral damage. The illegitimate regime of Bashar al-Assad is intentionally targeting, torturing, and murdering innocent children, almost every day. When you are reading this, it is almost certain that several more children will have been tortured or murdered since the time I wrote it.

Ibrahim Ali Talluzi, 11 years old, murdered August 4 in Damascus, Syria, by al-Assad forces.

The rebel forces, who have united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, have repeatedly asked the West for aid in battling al-Assad’s regime. Thus far President Obama has only authorized medical supplies and communications equipment to be sent to the rebels. Meanwhile the rebels are forced to use only small arms and improvised explosives against a government army and air force that utilizes tanks, artillery, bombers, and helicopters. Al-Assad’s military is also receiving aid from Iran, who are somehow invested in keeping the brutal dictator in power.

The Syrian people are seeking freedom and peace from a regime that is violating basic human rights and continues to murder innocent civilians every day. They are asking for the United States to help — not for the U.S. to send troops or forces to battle al-Assad, but that the U.S. provide armaments and weaponry so that the Free Syrian Army can at least stand a chance at protecting their families and children from the Iranian-backed military of Bashar al-Assad.

Western and Middle-Eastern military analysts have all but agreed that al-Assad is certain to fall from power eventually. The piercing question mark is how long it will take. Without the aid of armaments from another nation, analysts say, the civil war could go on for years. Years of more civilian deaths and more children being ruthlessly tortured and slaughtered.

In public the U.S. speaks support for the Syrian rebels and for the downfall of Bashar al-Assad. U.S. Senator John McCain has called for the aid of the Free Syrian Army. Former Governor Mitt Romney has called for the aid of the Free Syrian Army. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for the aid of the Free Syrian Army. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has called for the aid of the Free Syrian Army. These American leaders understand that America cannot call itself the world’s greatest proponent for freedom and democracy and then do nothing when those who seek freedom and democracy ask for our help.

But only President Barack Obama can approve the sending of armaments to the Syrian rebels who fight for freedom and their families. The question is, how many more innocent children have to die before President Obama decides to help the Syrian people?

A teenage protester in Syria holds a sign that says “Syria For All.” The crescent moon and the cross over the sign symbolize the historically peaceful coexistence of Muslims and Christians in Syria.

Local Thirty-Four-Year-Old Virgin Dodges Interview

Local virgin Skippy Jessop.

Skippy Jessop. So many things can be said about this guy. We’ll start with the highlights: Showcased on TLC’s Virgin Diaries. Lives in his parent’s basement. Collects his own belly button lint.

Skippy is current thirty-four years old. He lives in Orem, Utah, and after repeated attempts at fame Skippy was finally featured going after girls and talking about his virginity on TLC’s hit new show. But there’s more to Skippy than reality shows and desperately wanting to lose his virginity. Or at least we think there is.

I requested an interview with Skippy, but he never responded–and thanks to Facebook’s new messaging features I know he read it. Hey Skippy, let us interview you. We promise we’re just as good as The View.

Until Skippy responds, we’ll make do with Skippy trivia courtesy of Google:

Skippy is Mormon, but on Facebook he describes his religion views as “Oprah.” A couple years ago Skippy publicly blogged about asking a girl on a date and publicly posted her private e-mail to him, complete with an invasive link to her Facebook profile, and weirdly asked his readers for input. Also while delivering pizza in 2006 Skippy helped police catch a purse-thief like a superhero and was featured on local news.

Clearly Skippy is a complicated guy. Hey Skippy, let me interview you.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Controversial Mormon Coverpage

Bloomberg Businessweek released an early mock-up for the cover of its next issue which will feature the cover story, “Latter-day Lucre: How the Mormon Church Makes Its Billions,” by Caroline Winter. The article itself, which has been online since Tuesday, seems relatively balanced and non-controversial, and the online version is simply titled, “How the Mormons Make Money.”

The mock-up for the next Businessweek cover, however, is something different. It features an 1898 lithograph of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by the angelic John the Baptist to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, a sacred and important event in Mormonism’s  origin story. However the Bloomberg mock-up features speech-bubbles of the angel saying, “…and thou shalt build a shopping mall, own stock in Burger King, and open a Polynesian theme park in Hawaii…,” with a speech-bubble over Joseph Smith saying “Hallelujah.” The bottom of the cover is captioned in large capital letters, “INSIDE THE MORMON EMPIRE.”

The logic behind the offensive cover presumably is to stir up a small amount of controversy in order to get attention for an otherwise relatively objective article on the finances and investments of the LDS Church.

PHOTO: Thomas S. Monson Drinking Soda in Idaho Store, Preparing to Go Fishing

Yesterday Corner Drug in Driggs, Idaho posted this photo to their Facebook page with the following caption:

We have had a couple of distinguished visitors to the soda fountain this week. This gentlemen enjoyed his Lime Freeze from Corner Drug. Hope the fishing on the river was equally as good!

In about 18 hours the photo received almost 500 shares and over 1,000 likes.

BREAKING: Mermaids are Not Real, U.S. Government Declares

Last week the National Ocean Service, which is a subdivision of the U.S. Commerce Department, declared the following on its website:

“Mermaids — those half-human, half-fish sirens of the sea — are legendary sea creatures chronicled in maritime cultures since time immemorial. … No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found. Why, then, do they occupy the collective unconscious of nearly all seafaring peoples? That’s a question best left to historians, philosophers, and anthropologists.”

The new post about mermaids is filed on the website under “Ocean Facts.” No one is really sure why the National Ocean Service suddenly felt the need to inform the American populace the mermaids are indeed fictional, but it could be due to a recent Discovery Channel show that argued for the existence of mermaids and which left many people wondering whether aquatic humanoids could in fact exist. Reportedly the National Ocean Service received a number of inquiries about the evidence for mermaids’ existence after the show aired.

Or the sudden pronouncement could be due to the more obvious fact that the National Ocean Service has indeed confirmed the existence of mermaids and are now beginning an extensive and elaborate covert government cover-up.

PHOTOS: President Dieter F. Uchtdorf Throws First Pitch at L.A. Dodgers Game

(Photo from Deseret Book.)

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was invited to throw the first pitch at the Las Angeles Dodgers game this past Friday for the stadium’s popular “Mormon Night.” The ceremonial pitch was caught by a local Area Seventy of the Church.

Also for the stadium’s “Mormon Night”  Alex Boyé sang the national anthem, and the name of each local stake appeared periodically on the stadium’s scoreboard throughout the game.

Last year Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve was invited to throw the first pitch.