Sunday, March 22, 2020

Fear Is A Virus

Previously: The Sins at the Top of the List


After all this fear and hysteria dies down, Americans may look back and realize it was actor Tom Hanks who first helped them come to their senses.

By then the economy will probably be a wreck, but hey, better late than never.

As I write these words on Saturday evening, so far 18,492 Americans are known to have contracted the COVID-19 virus.  Chances are very good that no one reading this blog is acquainted with any of these victims personally.  Odder still, we hear almost nothing about these individuals in the news.  Who are these people? How are they faring? What are their chances of recovering from this illness? We know that so far 348 people have died, but who exactly were they, and what were the circumstances of their deaths?

And what do we know about those who have so far been listed as "recovered" other than the number so far, which stands at 178?

Well, we know this much: if we subtract the number of dead and recovered from the 18,492 Americans who have contracted the virus so far, we know there are 17,966 Americans who are either going to recover or they're going to die.  Boy, I'll bet those folks are on the edge of their seats!

But who are these people? Isn't anybody curious?

With every other instance of a national crisis, reporters give us no shortage of human interest stories showing us how the victims are coping.  But in this particular disaster scenario, we're getting...bupkis. Except, that is, in the case of one celebrity couple, actor Tom Hanks and his lovely wife, actress Rita Wilson. Because they are celebrities, and because they both contracted the coronavirus, their story is getting out.

And what are we learning about them? We learn that they're both "doing just fine" and are likely to make a full recovery. Hanks himself tweeted an update that read,
"Hey folks. Good News: One week after testing Positive, in self-isolation, the symptoms are much the same. No fever but the blahs. Folding the laundry and doing the dishes leads to a nap on the couch," Hanks captioned the post. "Bad news: My wife @ritawilson has won 6 straight hands of Gin Rummy and leads by 201 points."
What's this? Folding laundry and doing the dishes? Taking naps? Playing cards?!

Here in America we're told we should be absolutely terrified of exposure to this horrible new plague because we're led to believe it has the capacity to wipe us all out in a matter of days.  We're expected to shut down the whole country and hunker down in fear inside our dank dwellings while we shiver in terror.

Meanwhile Tom and Rita Hanks, virtually the only victims of the virus the media are bothering to report on, are ensconced in a suite in Australia experiencing what Rita describes as "my coronavirus vacation."

A week into this thing and the worst Rita's husband can say about it is that they're feeling the blahs.  We really have no idea if their experience is typical of the majority of cases, of course, but it would seem that the harshest description one could come up with for the Hanks' experience with COVID-19 is that right about now they're finding life to be slightly inconvenient.

And what of those of us who have not yet had any exposure to the virus? Is it possible we are over-reacting?

Is it possible we're being manipulated into over-reacting?

At Least It Doesn't Come With Trouser Chili
Tom and Rita Hanks don't report coming down with vomiting or diarrhea, which puts them in league with nearly all reported cases around the world.  Unlike most flu afflictions, where vomiting and diarrhea are almost inescapable, if you happen to come down with COVID-19, you'll likely escape that misery. The New England Journal of Medicine has relayed findings from the leading medical researchers in China who report that diarrhea accompanying this virus is "uncommon." Specifically, they report that that miserable experience has occurred in fewer than 3.8% of the 1199 Chinese persons who were studied over there. That means that if you catch the coronavirus, there is a 96.2% chance you will avoid blowing chowder or coming down with a case of the turkey squirts. That counts as a moderate affliction by any measure.

I have no small experience in these matters, so believe me when I tell you that if given a choice, I'd take the coronavirus over the flu any day.

I don't wish to minimize the seriousness of this malady. People are indeed getting sick from COVID-19. Some are even dying. But percentage-wise, this new virus indicates an outcome of far fewer fatalities compared to any of the viruses and influenzas we have endured for generations. We didn't have to live under near-martial law when those ailments landed in our midst, so why all of a sudden are we freaking out over this one?

If you're really concerned about catching COVID-19, the proper response is to be concerned, but not afraid. You should be prudent, not panicky. God doesn't want you to be fearful. Indeed, it has been my experience that it's much more difficult to receive His divine assistance when we're filled with a spirit of fear and anxiety.  If your heart is full of fear, your body is less likely to heal. Fear tends to block God's ability reach you. That just seems to be one of the laws of the universe.

I find it interesting that a scary virus that contains the numbers 1 and 9 in its name has a corresponding response in the book of Joshua 1 and 9:
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9)
What Are We Afraid Of, Anyway?
When discussing pandemics or epidemics, there are only two things that matter, and both are facets of the disease that are almost always glossed over in the current hysteria:
The first is the percentage of people who died from the contagion.
The second is the overall health and lifestyle of those who ended up dying from the contagion.
That's the heart of the matter. Those are the only two things that should concern us if we're going to decide to live in fear. Everything else is just filler put in there to feed the hysterics.

Ever since Pandora opened that box and released all those diseases upon the earth, illness has been an unavoidable reality on our little planet.  Although we can avoid some of this unpleasantness some of the time, we can't avoid all of it all of the time. It's also important to realize that although a good number of people who are exposed to a particular pathogen end up getting sick, and an even smaller number of those succumb to death, the great majority of people who are exposed to a given virus neither get sick nor do they die. The virus just bounces right off of 'em. They will not be fazed or affected by it at all.   As Bill Sardi writes:
A Harvard professor says up to 70% of the global population will be infected with coronavirus within the next year. That is actually a positive because most will naturally develop antibodies. If one were to say 70% of the world just got vaccinated against coronavirus, that would be considered a major achievement; but if 70% were naturally immunized against coronavirus without a needle and syringe that would be considered a dire problem. Why?
Here is a short list of terrifying scares we were put through here in the United States during the last 20 years. Each of them was hyped by government and media as if an asteroid was about to hit the earth and we were all gonna be flattened in an instant. Do you even remember half of these end-of-the-world events?
2001, Anthrax: 43 people tested positive for exposure, 22 got sick, and 5 of them died. No common factor among those who died other than exposure. 
1999-2018. West Nile Virus: 50,823 exposed. 2330 died, mostly elderly people with weak immune systems. 
2003. SARS (short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome): This was the first coronavirus, SARS CoV.  The current outbreak commonly referred to as the coronavirus was labelled SARS CoV-2 early on in order to differentiate it from its daddy, but then The Guys Who Name The Viruses changed the name to COVID-19. Not because it was the 19th virus (as I had originally assumed), but because it was discovered last year, in 2019.  Well, 8,098 people came down with that first SARS virus, resulting in 774 deaths across 29 countries. But only 8 cases wound up in the United States. There were no deaths from SARS in the U.S. So, that scare turned out to be a dud. Chalk up a victory for the Yanks.
2006-Present, Ecoli: An estimated 255,000 people in the United States get this nasty bugger every year.  About 100 people die from it each year, mostly those aged 65 years and older with weakened immune systems or under age 5 with weak immune systems.  
2009-Present, Swine Flu (H1N1 Virus) As far as effective scare efforts go this is one of the biggies. It just sounds scary! In 2009 an estimated 22 million Americans contracted the virus in the U.S. and 4,000 Americans died. The Swine flu is ongoing, with a total  number of 61 million Americans infected to date, and 12,469 dead. 
2014, Ebola Virus: Medical experts and the media did their best to convince us that this virus was going to kill us all, but as it turned out, only 11 cases were reported in the U.S. Nine of those were people who traveled into the country after being infected in Africa, and only two contracted it inside the United States; a couple of nurses who treated one of those incoming patients. Both nurses recovered.
2016, Tuberculosis: This should give you pause: 10.4 million people came down with TB in 2016 and 1.7 million died from it. The following year saw an infection rate of 10 million, with 1.6 million fatalities.  
In 2018, an estimated 10 million people fell ill with tuberculosis worldwide: 5.7 million men, 3.2 million women and 1.1 million children. A total of one and a half million deaths resulted that year and 205,000 of them were children. There were cases in all countries and age groups. TB is curable and preventable, but it is by far the most infectious and dangerous disease of all. I guess because it hasn't been labeled a "novel" virus, no one really cares about its victims. As Congressman Ron Paul asked recently, "where's the panic over this?"

Well, tuberculosis is caused by bacteria and not by a virus, so somehow maybe that's why TB doesn't matter.  Okay, then, let's get back to talking about viruses.

For some reason this COVID-19 virus has completely overshadowed the more serious killer virus, which is the seasonal flu we have all become accustomed to living with. Despite the endless hub-bub over COVID-19, the ubiquitous flu still remains a higher threat to public health than the coronavirus. According to a report filed by CNBC Health and Science Editor Jessica Bursztynsky last month,
 At least 19 million people have come down with the flu in the U.S. with 180,000 ending up in the hospital, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu season, which started in September and can run until May, is currently at its peak and poses a greater health threat to the U.S. than the new coronavirus, physicians say.
Compare those 19 million flu infections reported in February with the mere 18 thousand reported as of yesterday morning from the coronavirus. Then also compare yesterday's tally of coronavirus deaths -348- with the over 10 thousand dead just this season so far from the flu.

But wait, there's more!

Those numbers were accurate on February 3rd when that CNBC piece was written, but they've gone up a lot since then. If you thought the coronavirus was spreading fast, you don't know its cousin the flu. From LiveScience.com, here are the numbers comparing both the COVID-19 and the current flu season:
So far, the new coronavirus has led to more than 220,000 illnesses and more than 9,300 deaths worldwide. But that's nothing compared with the flu, also called influenza. In the U.S. alone, the flu has caused an estimated 36 million illnesses, 370,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths this season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But wait! There's still more!

The CDC estimates that influenza has resulted in between 9 million to 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalizations and as many as 61,000 deaths annually since 2010. The CDC explains why the estimates vary so widely:
The burden of influenza disease in the United States can vary widely and is determined by a number of factors including the characteristics of circulating viruses, the timing of the season, how well the vaccine is working to protect against illness, and how many people got vaccinated. 
Add to that the fact that a very large number of people who come down with the flu don't bother to go to the doctor or to a hospital, so it's difficult to know who those people are and get them counted.  Think about the last time time you got the flu. Did you feel like dragging your tired butt to the doctor and risk infecting others? You probably did what most people do: you called in sick, bought some over-the-counter medications, stayed home, drank lots of water and warm herbal teas, and rested up until you got better. The CDC didn't know you even had the flu, so you didn't get added to the national tally.

If you were smart, you built up your immune system with teas, tinctures, and nutrients before the inevitable start of the flu season. That's what I do, and although my lungs remain wonky, I haven't had the flu in over twenty years.  In fact, the last bout of the flu I had was soon after I had taken the flu vaccine, something I did religiously every time it was available.  I'm a slow learner, but once I realized I was getting the flu like clockwork every time I got a flu shot, I made the conscious decision to build up my immune system instead of tearing it down by injecting mercury and monkey pus into it in the false hope that poisoning my body would build it up better than feeding it with the fuel God provided for us all.

So it's partly because a good number of people who get the flu stay home and off the medical grid that there may be many more people who get the flu each year than actually get counted. Of course those piles of wrinkled corpses cluttering up the nursing homes can give a more accurate picture of the death toll.

COVID-19: Making It Up As They Go
Well, you may say, there still may be time for the coronavirus to catch up with those flu statistics since the game is still too early to call. We don't know but that tens of millions more Americans could still succumb to the coronavirus, right?

Okay. Could happen, I guess. Dr. Mike Ryan agrees with you. He is executive director of WHO's health emergency forum and he says that "a relatively mild [corona]virus can cause a lot of damage if a lot of people get it."  Hard to argue with him on that, but admittedly that's a big "IF." Ryan himself admits that "this is the issue at the moment; we don't fully understand it."

And then there's the man of the hour, Dr Anthony Fauci, who, until quite recently, was a dependable source of information on the COVID-19 virus. He's the same guy who kept insisting we don't know anything about this virus or what the final outcome will be, but then one day he just couldn't resist predicting that the coronavirus would be ten times more lethal than the flu. Where is the science to back up that prediction? There isn't any. He just pulled it out of his butt.

I suspect Brother Fauci has come to enjoy being in front of the camera a little too much and may not want that celebrity face-time to end. So he keeps thinking of more reasons to make the rounds with the talking head circuit, even it it means he has to alarm the populace with false updates in order to remain relevant.

Anyway, Doctors Ryan and Fauci are quickly getting outmatched by analysts who tell it to us straight. Here's Dr. Jennifer Lighter, hospital epidemiologist at NYU Langone Health who says of the coronavirus,
"In the U.S. it's really a fear based on media and this being something new. When in reality, people can take measures to protect themselves against the flu, which is here and prevalent and has already killed 10,000 people." [22,000 since Lighter first cited that number.]
Referring to the coronavirus, Dr Lighter continued,
"I think we’re going to find that the mortality number is going to be lower [than the flu]. There is more than likely many times that number of people that have mild [cases] or are asymptomatic. It may end up being comparable to a bad flu season".
Add to that The Confusion Factor, as Bursztyntsky reports,
The two viruses have similar symptoms, which some health officials fear will cause misdiagnoses. Common flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat and aches. Coronavirus  symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the CDC. 
For now, Lighter stressed that the public should focus on the flu, which is affecting children especially hard this season. 
Dr. Lighter is far from alone in doubting the unsupported coronavirus predictions. Many health care professionals and analysts are highly skeptical of the possibility that this thing is going to continue to grow and take millions down with it. Give yourself six minutes and watch this short video by Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai. Dr Shiva, who has a PhD from MIT in Biological Engineering as well as degrees in three other disciplines, studies and does research nearly every day on the Immune System. He says the coronavirus fearmongering will go down in history as "one of the biggest frauds to manipulate economies, suppress dissent, and push for mandated medicine." He insists it’s time to stop scaring people and start talking about immune health.



Among many other skeptical sources, there's this interview with Richard Epstein below, titled Don't Expect Millions to Die From the Coronavirus. Epstein, a fellow at the University of Chicago's Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, explains his math, which draws on his work dealing with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and '90s. This is from the introduction:
"He also discusses why the stimulus plans being floated are unlikely to help the economy in the short run but will cause major problems in the long run, why he thinks local and state governments are overreacting by shutting down businesses and schools, and why he expects the crisis to ease up in a few months, as it already has in the Asian countries hit first."
This may very well be the most intriguing and informative 38 minutes you spend all week. I hope you'll take the time to listen.

So You Want To Become A Statistic...
I've been posting things on Facebook for some time now showing why the coronavirus "crisis," though worthy of serious attention, hardly warrants being given its own national emergency, especially since we don't tend to declare national emergencies over any of the more egregious and proven health crises in our country's history. Sometimes people get so mad at me for sharing my opinions that you would think they're looking forward to having this new virus overrun our country, and that my protestations might somehow keep it from happening.

Invariably these enthusiasts point to how quickly the coronavirus has already spread through other countries as proof that there is no avoiding a germ armageddon here on our continent. But these people fail to recognize that in the countries that had the worst outbreaks, there were factors that exacerbated the spread that we are not likely to follow suit with here. We don't have to have an American Pandemic. But if you personally desire to increase your own chances of dying from the coronavirus, here are five things you can do:

1. Be a male living in China.
Over three hundred million Chinese men are heavy smokers. This makes them extremely susceptible to contracting pneumonia once they've been exposed to the virus, and it's the pneumonia that tends to kill people, not the virus itself. The virus just helps pneumonia find its way to the lungs. In contrast to Chinese men, less than 2% of Chinese females smoke. Both males and females who live in the cities are exposed to a great deal of smog, but the males exacerbate the problem by smoking.

Then there is this other thing the Chinese do that we tend not to. They openly spit on the pavement in public. Not just saliva spit, but deep, throat cleansing loogie-hocks. And they do it all day, all the time, wherever they happen to be.

Says Russ Coomber, professor of sociology at Plymouth University, "While in China, many people view spitting as a cleansing action for the body."

"It should also be acknowledged that many Asian cultures see the Western act of blowing or sneezing in public into a handkerchief and then putting that into a pocket as truly disgusting and much worse than spitting."

Then there's this new trend among some Chinese of going into elevators and rubbing their spit on the buttons. Who says the Chinese are not a sharing culture?  If you have the stomach for it, you can see some examples of that delightful practice recorded here and here. 

2. Be a smoker living in Italy.
The percentage of smokers in Italy has actually decreased in the past few years, and it's nowhere near the percentage of smokers in China, but Italians who smoke tend to be very heavy smokers. Smoking weakens the lungs, as we know, and the lungs just happen to be COVID-19's organ of choice.

And let's not forget the reason the coronavirus spread so far and fast in Italy. Back when we were first learning of the disease spreading through China, the mayor of Florence, Italy thought it would be a good idea to promote solidarity with the wave of Chinese immigrants flooding into his country from Wuhan, so he announced February 1st would be "Hug a Chinese" day in order to show lack of prejudice and support for the fight against the Corona virus. It was well known that many of those immigrants were infected with the Virus, but many people followed the advice of their local politician anyway.

During the incubation period, most Italians would not have realized they were infected, and so the virus continued to spread to family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else infected Italians came in contact with. To date, the number of deaths from the virus in Italy actually exceeds the number of deaths from the virus in China, and the entire country is now on lockdown. All because of a desire many Italians exhibited to be seen as "woke."

The video below was posted on February 4th, not as a warning, but in actual celebration of this campaign to show solidarity with a contagious infection. That campaign seems a bit ill-conceived now.



3. Be a smoker living in America.
Just cut it out, you moron.

4. Have respiratory problems or an otherwise weak immune system.
Same thing as above; viruses can morph into pneumonia, and pneumonia in a person who already has lung problems can be extremely discomforting, if not fatal. Take it from me. I have severe asthma, and sometimes when I get the flu or a bronchial infection, it turns into pneumonia. If the coronavirus ever makes it up here to Northern Idaho, I'll most likely catch it and there's a real possibility my lungs will turn on me and if that happens I'm in for a very unpleasant time.

I've had pneumonia at home and I've had it in the hospital. In either venue it's virtually impossible to sleep, and when you're that sick you really need to sleep. If I do get laid up by this virus you can bring me over a casserole if you like, because I'll be awake.

5. Grow old.
Hate to break it to you, but the older you get, the closer you are to the end of your life. Sometimes it's simply because your body is not as able to fight off infections as well as it did when you were younger. This is true whether you catch a virus or fall prey to a variety of other illnesses. The COVID-19 virus doesn't posses some magical power to kill that other afflictions don't have, it just makes it more likely that if you're elderly and infirm and this thing gets ahold of you, your time may have finally come.

The good news is that the fatality rate of people over 80 with the Corona virus has been 15 percent so far. That's fifteen percent of people over 80 who contract the virus, not fifteen percent of everyone who gets it. That's good news because it means even old geezers have an 85 percent chance of licking this thing and waking up alive after it's run its course. If you're 93 and you've already been spending your last days lying in bed in a nursing home already close to breathing your last, this disease will probably put you over the hump. But if you're 93, in good health, and regularly play racquetball or whatever it is you old people do for sport these days (shuffleboard?) you may not have anything to worry about.  The killer instinct that COVID-19 harbors is for the old and seriously infirm, not just the old.

Everyone Else:
Just as with a head cold, you have an excellent chance of surviving the coronavirus if you happen to catch it, because the overall fatality rate of COVID-19 is 0.018%, and most of the people in that percentile are those in the classifications listed above.

So congratulations. I have only an 85% chance of making it through this, but yours is just under 99.

Fear Not
If you've been captured by the spirit of fear over this over-hyped virus, I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be. That's not to say there isn't plenty to be concerned about regarding this virus scare. There is. And I don't mean the virus, I mean the scare.

The reaction to this thing -particularly the government plan to subsidize pretty much every American's lost income over the next few months- is about to plunge us into a recession that will most likely devolve into a seriously deep depression. Then while we're still reeling from that, we'll suddenly be whip-sawed by hyperinflation the likes of which none of us have ever experienced.  If you think toilet paper is hard to come by now, just wait until there's plenty of it around but it's so expensive you can't afford to buy it.

Hyperinflation is inevitable if this plan goes forward. There is no such thing as free money; the government can't suddenly pump two trillion additional unbacked dollars into the economy and not expect us all to suffer on the back end. So if you want to be afraid of something, be afraid of that. Be very afraid.

But I don't recommend you let fear overtake you at all. Instead I suggest you do what you can to prepare for the coming storm.  "If ye are prepared," the Lord reminds us, "you shall not fear." Even if, like me, you don't have the funds to stock up on the necessities you're going to need to see this thing through, it is still extremely important that you are prepared with knowledge so you don't fall into the same traps most of your countrymen will be walking into.

                                                                *****

Addendum
If you are ready to stop being lied to about what's going on with this virus and the government's reaction to it, you might try stepping away from the usual news sources that are steering you in the wrong direction and instead look for information that will actually be of some use.  I'm including two links below where you will find copious voices of reason and common sense -virtues noticeably lacking in our public discourse today. Both links are already stocked with a number of other links to articles well worth checking out. You could tunnel around in there for days and still come up wanting more:

This is Reason Magazine's coronavirus page. It will be updated frequently with new articles as they appear.

Here is a variety of different articles on the coronavirus from various contributors that have appeared on LewRockwell.com  This site presents about eight new pieces every day on a variety of issues. It's one of my favorite sources of informed commentary.

Stay informed, stay hydrated, keep your body fueled, and keep taking that daily walk with God.  Like most tribulations in life, these troubles will pass you by.
                                                               
                                                                   

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Sins At The Top Of The List


Previously: Joseph Smith and Polygamy,Persistence of a Myth


This month you're going to wonder what the heck I'm up to, because this is supposed to be a religiously-themed blog and I'm going to appear to be talking politics.  But bear with me, because this topic has everything to do with religion, morality, and truth, and very little to do with politics.  Certainly it has nothing to do with political partisanship, other than as a warning that we -especially as Mormons- ought to avoid identifying ourselves as fiercely loyal to one political party over another.

The real theme of this post is last-days prophecy.  If you stay with me on this trip you'll begin to question whether I am a liberal or a conservative, because I'll have good things and bad things to say about those who advocate for either side.  I consider myself neither Republican nor Democrat, but I can hardly be accused of political apathy. By the time we get to the end of this piece, I hope you'll see why those labels are ultimately meaningless.

So let's get to it, shall we?

Something caught my attention on page 8 of Val Brinkerhoff's book, The Secret Chamber.  During Jesus' visit to the Nephites, he warned of the great sins of the gentiles in the last days. I found it intriguing that each time Jesus listed the sins we would be guilty of, there were two in particular that were at the top of the list every time. Jesus said that in the last days we, the Gentiles,

will be lifted up in pride
and be filled with lyings (#1)
and deceits (#2)
and mischiefs
and all manner of hypocrisy
and murders
and priestcrafts
and whoredomes
and secret abominations
...and the fullness taken from us.
(3 Nephi 16:10)


Except we repent of 
all lyings (#1)
and deceivings (#2)
and envyings
and strifes
and priestcrafts and whoredoms
...we will be cut off.
(3 Nephi 21:14-21)

We must repent of 
all lyings (#1)
and deceivings (#2)
and whoredoms
and secret abominations
and idolotries
and murders
and priestcrafts
and envyings
and strifes
and all wickedness & abominations
...and be filled with fire and the Holy Ghost.
(3 Nephi 30:2)         

This repeated emphasis would seem to indicate that we in our day would be facing lies and deceptions on a massive scale, and that we would not just participate in these deceptions but "be filled" with them. That suggests to me that we will be fed a constant diet of lies and deceptions; that we would take them in and willingly swallow them whole.  Lies and deceptions will become so commonplace in our day that we are likely to believe almost anything without thinking.

I don't know if you've noticed, but lies and deceptions on a grand scale seem to suddenly be everywhere these days. At the moment it appears it's those crazies on the political Left who have lost their collective minds, because they seem all too willing to believe anything told to them by someone with a 'D' after his or her name.

But may I remind you conservatives that it was not that long ago that you bought into the lies and deceptions of the party you aligned with?  It was only 13 years ago when
Republican Dick Cheney, Vice President at the time and one of the most palpably wicked men in government, was celebrated at BYU where he had been invited to give the commencement address.  At the time, Cheney had been instrumental in deceiving nearly all of America into going to war against a people who had never harmed us and wished us no ill.  That war was promoted by Cheney and others on "the right" as necessary to defend our freedoms. Yet ironically, while our soldiers were getting maimed and killed to ostensibly defend our freedoms over there, our politicians were busy diminishing our liberties here at home.

But I'm not here to rag on Republicans. Instead I want to focus praise on a particular conservative president -one by the name of John F. Kennedy.

Now, everyone knows JFK was a Democrat, so he must have been the furthest thing imaginable from a conservative, right? Well, by today's liberal standards, he sure wouldn't make it as a Democrat.  But when he was running for congress in 1946 he ran as a conservative Democrat, which in those days was not at all an oxymoron. Plenty of Democrats were conservatives.

In 1992, congress began the release of millions of pages of previously classified documents that show us how adamantly Kennedy stood for what we would today call conservative principles. Unfortunately he was opposed at every step by men whose only motivation was in gaining power and keeping it.  Thanks to the release of those documents, we now have convincing evidence that it was Kennedy's enmity toward the deep state operatives that eventually got him killed. Of course nobody knew that then. Nobody talked about the deep state back then, either, because that term didn't exist.

It wasn't long after the assassination took place in 1963 before rumors began to leak that the official story of Kennedy's assassination had lots of holes in it. Tellingly, it was liberals who were the ones investigating those contradictions.  The first articles to question the official narrative were written by liberal reporters and published in Ramparts and The Guardian, two decidedly left-wing magazines.

Conservatives weren't interested in reading those rags. We didn't care who killed Kennedy, we were just glad he was dead.

I say "we" because although I was only 11 years old at the time, my parents had voted for Nixon, and everyone I knew felt that the loss of a Democrat in the White House could only be a good thing. You've probably heard that the entire nation mourned upon hearing of the death of JFK. But that isn't quite true. Not everyone mourned. I knew a good many adults in my world and at church who could only say "good riddance."  The only grieving any of us witnessed over the death of John F. Kennedy was what we saw on TV.  President Kennedy was not a good man, that much I knew.

As I got older I began to hear rumors that the FBI and CIA may have been involved in the assassination of JFK, but I dismissed those rumors because I knew America's intelligence community was known to be decidedly right-wing, and The Right was on the side of patriotism and devotion to country. They would never be involved in anything underhanded.

What I did not realize at the time is that when it comes to those in the upper reaches of government power, the term "right-wing" is not synonymous with "conservative."  Right-wingers in the deep state are authoritarians, concerned with accumulating and keeping power, just as left-wingers in high office have little in common with rank-and-file liberal voters.  In government parlance, The Right is authoritarian and The Left is totalitarian. If you're wondering what the difference is to the average American on the ground, well...there isn't any. It's not a question of which faction will serve the people, but which faction will get to rule over them.  We are all being played for suckers by the Power Elite. Each side has one aim: to get and keep power, and in turn to prevent the other side from getting and keeping power.

It took over fifty years before I began to reassess my opinion of John F. Kennedy. It helped that the information in those files that were declassified in the early 90s resulted in numerous books that revealed the bigger picture.  There were also congressional hearings in the 70s chaired by Idaho Democratic Senator Frank Church. His committee exposed some of the more egregious operations carried out by America's Intelligence branches and decried the lack of congressional oversight. At the time, I was not at all comfortable with Congress attacking my beloved Central Intelligence Agency. In those days I was convinced the CIA was fighting the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way.  Exposing their deeds, even if sometimes those deeds were done in the dark, could only leave America exposed to its enemies.

There were also former CIA defectors who blew the whistle on some of the inner workings of the agency. I felt those guys were traitors, too, because as I have written elsewhere, when I was in my teens and early twenties I believed it was treasonous to question anything the U.S. government did. I no longer hold those beliefs, mostly because it is clear as glass that the U.S. government has not been answerable to the people since at least 1963. It was in that year that it became obvious that our government had been taken over by people no one ever elected and no one seems able to unseat.

That would be the mysterious "Deep State," a term coined by Peter Dale Scott, a liberal professor of political science at UC Berkeley, and a highly respected JFK Assassination researcher. Scott had previously coined the term "Deep Politics" to describe the hidden operations of the Permanent State, that cabal of operatives who are a staple of Washington politics and who have become the real power in Washington regardless of who is elected to office.

Let's Talk About The Deep State
According to Professor Scott, the "deep state" refers to the CIA, FBI and the fifteen other intelligence communities, as well as the Military-Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned against. It consists also of long-term staff both in congress and the White House who seem to always keep their jobs no matter who gets voted in or out. In short, the Deep State is the term used to encompass the entire Permanent State, a conglomeration of entities that exist not to serve the country, but to perpetuate their own power. Those factions that make up the the Deep State are not always in lock-step with each other; there is serious competition between the various factions.  But when they sense danger of exposure, they will circle the wagons against the interests of the people and rush to cover for one another.

Surprisingly, Peter Dale Scott, the foremost authority on the Deep State, does not believe that those in the Deep State currently trying to unseat Donald Trump are Leftists.  Of course the Democrats in congress are, but not the power elite behind the scenes.  Scott asserts that the Deep State continues to be under the control of the "right-wing" Neocons, and that Rumsfeld and Cheney were at the heart of the Deep State since 1975, when they secured top positions in the Ford administration. Professor Scott insists that the Neocons were never unseated. Rather, the evidence shows that the Deep State today is as intent as ever in starting a cold war with Russia, and that's a decidedly Neocon goal; they maintain the cold war position that Russia must be defeated militarily and economically, and have never wavered from that view.  If that sounds odd to you, don't forget that there is nothing conservative about the Right-wing; they are all about keeping power, and Donald Trump has been a challenge to that power because he promised to drain the swamp. The Neocons are swamp creatures, and lest you forget, Mitt Romney is not a conservative, he's a Neocon who wants you to think he's a conservative. You can watch Dale Peter Scott explain it all in this interview: CIA vs Trump.

Whoever it is that's in charge, it's clear that the Deep State does not care about the will of the voters; it actually sees the voters as something of a nuisance.  In fact, the politicians you elect to office often defer to the will of the Deep State, and not to the will of those who elected them, because the hidden government has the power to shred the careers of those who directly go up against it.  The Deep State operates outside the democratic process.  It traffics in lies and deceptions on a massive scale. And very few Americans seem to notice or care.

It Began As A Simple Collection Agency
What is commonly known as the "National Security State" began innocuously enough in 1947 when President Harry Truman created the Central Intelligence Agency. This agency had one purpose: to collect information on the Soviet Union. It had no power to act on its own. All it was supposed to do was collect information and pass that information on to congress and the president.

But only a year later, it was given much broader powers under an act known as NSC 10/2.  With this new authorization to engage in covert activities, the CIA now had broad latitude to engage in otherwise illegal acts. As long as congress was unaware of what was going on and could deny authorizing these covert actions, it was pretty much anything goes. The president was supposed to be apprised of any and all covert plans on the part of the CIA, but the agency soon found ways to skirt that requirement.

The Special Projects office of the CIA was soon involved in torture, sabotage, murder, and the overthrowing of foreign governments it deemed hostile to the interests of the United States.  And surprise, surprise! Although the CIA was created by Truman ostensibly to fight communism, once the CIA was loosed from its tethers, it began to focus its efforts primarily on making millions of dollars for its directors and their friends on Wall Street.  According to author Laurent Guyenot,
"One of the inherent problems with the CIA was its leadership. Among its seven founding directors, only one was not a banker or lawyer on Wall Street. The head position was ultimately awarded to Allen Dulles, who with his brother John Foster, soon to be Secretary of State under Eisenhower, had worked for one of the largest law firms on Wall Street, Sullivan & Cromwell, before entering politics. Hence the CIA was said to be directed from New York rather than Washington. In this context, national interest merged with the private interests of large industrial groups.  Although created under the National Security Act in 1947, and thus dedicated to the struggle against the communist threat, the CIA would prioritize the interests of global financial stakeholders." (Laurent Guyenot, JFK-9/11: 50 Years of Deep State)
In case you didn't catch that, the CIA was supposed to dedicate itself to the struggle against communism, but instead those running the agency focused their energies on making money -scads of money- for themselves and their friends. Their priority was no longer patriotic service to their country (if it ever was such) but a nifty way to accumulate money and power.

If this reminds you of the secret combinations warned about in the Book of Mormon, I don't think that's a coincidence. Moroni warned us in Ether 8:22 to watch for secret combinations -men who combine together in secret- who would virtually supplant the legitimate government, and employ murder and other dark arts in order "to get power and gain."

The CIA's first major coup was in clandestinely overthrowing Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. For half a century British and American oil companies had controlled virtually all the oil coming out of Iran. If you've ever wondered how those rich, snooty Downton Abbey types came into their fabled "old money" and managed to live high on the hog without ever having to work, there's your answer: some of the richest families in England lived lavishly off their investments in Iranian oil.

Mossadegh decided this wasn't the best deal for the Iranian people, many of whom remained poor while the foreigners skimmed off all the riches from his country. He wanted to "break the chains of slavery and servitude" his people were suffering under what he called "colonial interests." He shut out Big Oil by nationalizing the oil fields so Iranians would be the ones benefiting from the sale of the oil on their lands.  Suddenly that endless spigot of money pouring into the coffers of the upper crust Anglo-American establishment ran dry.

The CIA was instrumental in overthrowing Mossadegh and replacing him with their own puppet, Shah Mohammed Pahlavi. The CIA oversaw the training of the Shah's secret police, the SAVAK, which included methods of torture employed against the Iranian people.  Mossadegh found himself imprisoned for life, and in no time at all everything was back to normal for British Petroleum.

Then there was the CIA's lucrative banana wars:
"In Central America, the CIA began harassing President Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala, elected in 1951. By his plan to redistribute a portion of land to 100,000 poor farmers, Arbenz threatened the interests of the multinational United Fruit Company, the giant banana corporation that held more than 90% of the land.  The Dulles brothers were shareholders of United Fruit, for whom they had written capital contracts in the '30s; John Foster even sat on its board of directors. Therefore the Dulles brothers orchestrated, financed, and armed the coup against Arbenz by a military junta responsible for more than 200,000 civilian deaths from 1954 to 1996, especially among the Mayan population. A CIA manual entitled A Study of Assassination, written in 1953 and declassified in 1997, contains detailed instructions on the various methods of murder by weapons, bombs, or simulated accidents." (Guyenot, ibid.)
According to George Washington University's National Security Archive, there are still over 100,000 pages of documents on CIA activities in Guatemala that have not been released.

In 1961 the CIA wanted to murder the first elected president of the Republic of Congo, Patrice Lumumba, who had led Congo to independence from Belgium. The motive was control of the vast mineral resources in that country.  Apparently these deep state operatives were heeding Chairman Mao's assertion about the Congo: "If we can take the Congo, we can hold the whole of Africa."

But CIA officials had the feeling that John F. Kennedy, the incoming new president, would not approve of their killing Lumumba, so they murdered Lumumba three days before Kennedy's inauguration. That covert action in the Congo was ranked as the largest in the agency's history at the time.

President Truman eventually regretted ever having anything to do with creating the Central Intelligence Agency:
 "For some time I have been disturbed by the way the CIA has been diverted from its original assignment.  It has become an operational and at times a policy-making arm of the government....  I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations."
-former President Harry Truman, December 22nd, 1963, one month to the day after the JFK assassination, op-ed section of the Washington Post.
Once Kennedy became president he was constantly bumping heads not only with the CIA, but with his own military Joint Chiefs of Staff. But before we get into all that, lets take a step back. Because ten years before Kennedy was ever elected, the CIA managed to pull of its greatest accomplishment: near complete control of America's news media.  Sorry I made you wade through all that exposition, because this is the real point of the entire essay, and the reason why today we are experiencing deception on a scale we've never seen before.

Listen To The Mockingbird
In the 1950s, Allen Dulles and Cord Meyer launched the most successful propaganda operation in the history of the world. Code named "Operation Mockingbird" it was initially a method by which the CIA provided payments to select journalists in return for a positive spin whenever something unfavorable to the CIA might show up in the news feed.  As one CIA operative said to Phil Graham, "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month."

Soon the CIA was funneling vast amounts of real money to CBS, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and twenty other media outlets in exchange for those institutions writing pieces the CIA wanted published, and to get them to refrain from covering stories the CIA did not want covered.  That's why, if you were around in the 50s, you never heard anything about the CIA's involvement in Iran and Guatemala. William Colby, Director of the CIA from 1973-1976 let slip when he boasted that "the CIA owns anyone of any significance in the major media."

Many years ago when I worked in radio, I had a close friend who had been hired as a reporter at CNN's Washington Bureau.  He gave me the phone number to reach him, but I never seemed to get past the receptionist, who always wanted to know who I was and what I was calling about so she could take a message. Finally after many times trying to reach my friend, he finally got back to me and told me "next time just tell the receptionist you're with 'the Company' and she'll put you right through." So the next time I called, I told the receptionist I was with the Company and sure enough, I got right through. Didn't even have to give my name. ("The Company," for those who may not know, is code for the Central Intelligence Agency. Company calls always get priority service.)
"In the 1950s, outlays for global propaganda climbed to a full third of the CIA's covert operations budget. Some 3,000 salaried and contract CIA employees were eventually engaged in propaganda efforts. The cost of disinforming the world cost American taxpayers an estimated $265 million a year by 1978, a budget larger than the combined expenditures of Reuters, UPI and the AP news syndicates. (Alex Constantine, Mockingbird: Subversion of the Free Press by the CIA.)                             
Let that sink in for a moment. Three thousand American journalists, members of an industry that prides itself on being independent and beholden to no one, were secretly working undercover for the CIA.

And nothing has changed. Just turn on any news outlet today and you'll see some stories spun to appear one way, while other important stories will not be covered at all. Reporters still cover what the Deep State wants covered and ignore what the Deep State wants ignored.  The only difference is today most reporters don't need much prodding. We're looking at a new generation of newsreaders whose political values mostly mirror those of the Deep State they answer to. And they still get paid and they still get their daily talking points delivered to them directly.

Remember "gravitas"?  That was actually funny. The gravitas talking point took place right after George Bush the Younger won the Republican nomination for president. "Gravitas" is a word few people know and almost no one uses in conversation. At the time, Bush was widely considered to be a lightweight, so he chose "Deep State Dick" Cheney to be his running mate.  When that choice was reported on the evening news, every single reporter at all the separate news outlets reported it the same way on the same day, every one of them using an obscure word they had probably never heard before.  Here's the clip:



And here's an example provided by one of my favorite liberal journalists, Glenn Greenwald, who put together this revealing montage showing how his fellow journalists constantly parrot the same lame talking points when attacking President Trump. (This was from March of last year. Turns out it was not the beginning of the end for Donald Trump after all.)

If you still need convincing, here's a formerly classified document issued by the CIA in 1967 to its media assets instructing them on how to counter criticism of the Warren Report.  And if you would like a more complete account of Media/Deep State collusion than I have room for here, Click on The CIA and the Media: 50 Facts the World Needs to Know.

Author Peter Janney pointed out that:
"Under Cord's tutelage, Mockingbird became a stunning success.  Whenever the CIA wanted a story slanted in a particular way, it got it.  This amounted to a subversion of democracy's most precious cornerstone, a free press...Using newspapers, magazines, radio and television, even Hollywood, the CIA's disinformation spin machine went to work shaping public opinion and perceptions, undermining the integrity and independence of an indispensable pillar of the democratic process." (Peter Janney,
Mary's Mosaic: The CIA Conspiracy to Murder John F. Kennedy, Mary Pinchot Meyer, and Their Vision for World Peace.)
Why John F. Kennedy Died And Why It Matters
John F. Kennedy could never run for president and win today -at least not as a Democrat. He would have to take a page out of the playbook of that other Eastern liberal, Donald Trump, and run as a Republican. Yes, he would be hated and despised by the establishment just like Trump is, but at least  he might be able to pull off some classical liberal accomplishments just as Trump has done.  Here is what Greg Gutfeld had to say about Trump, and I can easily see it applying to JFK if he were alive today:

"Imagine a democratic president doing this in three years:
Ushering in prison reform.
Drawing down wars because he's stingy about blood and treasure.
Ushering in record employment for women and minorities.
Growing median household income 8.3 percent to a record $66,000.00.
Placing restrictions on China for suppressing Muslims.

"That sounds like the greatest Democratic president in history -he just happens to be a Republican. And he just happens to be Donald Trump, so they hate him."

The rank-and-file Democratic voters loved JFK, but the political establishment hated him. They felt they had been betrayed because he had suddenly turned from a hawkish cold-war warrior to a man who preferred to broker peace.

Writes author James Douglass,
"John F. Kennedy was no saint. Nor was he any apostle of nonviolence.  However, as we are all called to do, he was turning.  Teshuvah, "turning," the Rabbinic word for repentance, is the explanation for Kennedy's short-lived, contradictory journey toward peace." (James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why it Matters.)
By the time Kennedy came to office in January 1961, the CIA was preparing to overthrow Castro using a small army of anti-Castro Cubans who would storm the beach at a place called Bay of Pigs.  Kennedy warned them not to go through with it, but they set it up anyway because the American aircraft carrier Essex was anchored only two miles out from shore with a group of destroyers. Once the invasion was underway, they thought, Kennedy would have to order the Essex to provide air cover for the invasion.

But Kennedy knew such an action would be interpreted as an act of war, and possibly trigger World War III.  So he never gave the order to the Essex, and the Bay of Pigs invasion failed. Kennedy took the blame for the failure of the operation but he was furious with the CIA. "I want to splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds," he told everyone within earshot.

Mistake.

The CIA had only been in existence for 16 years and already it was so powerful it could operate as a parallel government, independent of the president's wishes. Plus, they had the press on their side, so any move the president might make against the CIA would quickly be countered in the press. The CIA could get the media to smear Kennedy as being ineffective and unqualified.  The CIA could label him an appeaser who is soft on communism and a puppet of Khrushchev.  Never mind that Kennedy spoke out against communism many times, including at the Salt Lake Tabernacle in 1960 where he declared that "the enemy is the communist system itself- implacable, insatiable, unceasing in its drive for world domination." That declaration wouldn't matter once the CIA's media smear machine went into action.

The CIA was also known to kill its enemies without compunction, and by promising to break the agency into a thousand pieces, the president had just painted a target on himself.

Jack Kennedy was never going to win at the CIA chessboard.  Besides, Kennedy was already having to deal with those maniacs at the Joint Chiefs of Staff who actually looked forward to a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. To them, getting Cuba to appear to attack the U.S. would be a dandy reason to retaliate, and that would draw the Russians into a nuclear showdown. Appalled by their obsession to start a nuclear war, Kennedy told one of his advisers, "those people are crazy!"

The Joint Chiefs of Staff proposed several ways to get the Cubans to draw first blood; that way the U.S. could retaliate on the pretense that Cuba attacked first. To that end, the generals drew up a proposal that went by the code name "Operation Northwoods" that suggested several ways the U.S. could make it look like Cuba had attacked us:
A "Remember the Maine" incident could be arranged in several forms:  We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba.  We could blow up a drone vessel anywhere in the Cuban waters. We could arrange to cause such an incident in the vicinity of Havana or Santiago as a spectacular result of a Cuban attack from the air or sea, or both. The presence of Cuban planes or ships merely investigating the intent of the vessel could be fairly compelling evidence that the ship was taken under attack. The nearness to Havana or Santiago would add credibility especially to those people that might have heard the blast or have seen the fire. The US could follow with an air/sea rescue operation covered by US fighters to "evacuate" remaining members of the non-existent crew. Casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation.
The most outrageous suggestion was this one:
It is possible to create an incident which will demonstrate convincingly that a Cuban aircraft has attacked and shot down a chartered civil airliner enroute from the United States to Jamaica, Guatemala, Panama or Venezuela. The destination would be chosen only to cause the flight plan route to cross Cuba. The passengers could be a group of college students off on a holiday or any grouping of persons with a common interest to support chartering a non-scheduled flight. 
 An aircraft at Eglin AFB would be painted and numbered as an exact duplicate for a civil registered aircraft belonging to a CIA proprietary organization in the Miami area. At a designated time the duplicate would be substituted for the actual civil aircraft and would be loaded with the selected passengers, all boarded under carefully prepared aliases. The actual registered aircraft would be converted to a drone.  
Take off times of the drone aircraft and the actual aircraft will be scheduled to allow a rendezvous south of Florida. From the rendezvous point the passenger-carrying aircraft will descend to minimum altitude and go directly into an auxiliary field at Eglin AFB where arrangements will have been made to evacuate the passengers and return the aircraft to its original status. The drone aircraft meanwhile will continue to fly the filed flight plan. When over Cuba the drone will begin transmitting on the international distress frequency a "MAY DAY" message stating he is under attack by Cuban MIG aircraft. The transmission will be interrupted by the destruction of aircraft which will be triggered by radio signal. This will allow IACO radio stations in the Western Hemisphere to tell the US what has happened to the aircraft instead of the US trying to "sell" the incident.
Someone had obviously put a lot of thought into this. Needless to say, Kennedy wisely rejected all of those proposals, but that just made his enemies more bitter. He thought they were nuts for suggesting such outlandish schemes and they thought he was crazy for not recognizing how brilliant those ideas were. Jack later complained to his brother, Bobby, "Those sons of bitches with all the fruit salad just sat there nodding, saying it would work."

Whatever scheme that could be used to justify getting America into war, General Curtis LeMay was itching for it. "The time is now" he frequently insisted, promising the president that we could wipe out most of Russia with our bombers before the Soviets could react. That would, of course, kill millions of innocents, but LeMay felt nuclear war with Russia was inevitable anyway, so why don't we strike first and have the advantage? After the meeting, Kennedy said to his brother Robert, "keep that guy away from me."

During the Cuban missile crisis, tensions reached their peak. Everyone in America knew we were just one false move away from nuclear war with Russia. The Russians were on edge and so were we. Any slight move or miscalculation and one country or both could start the launch. We were at a very stressful stalemate with Russia, and Kennedy's military advisers were practically begging to get the go-ahead.

That's when Kennedy decided to try and get a private message to Khrushchev, bypassing the spooks and the generals.  Kennedy didn't know it, of course, but he was following the counsel of the Lord in D&C 98:34 where the Lord says that if any nation should proclaim war against His people, we should lift up a banner of peace to show that we do not desire war.  Kennedy sent a private message to Khrushchev via his brother Robert through the Soviet Ambassador to Washington.

This was Robert Kennedy's message:
"If the situation continues much longer, the president is not sure the military will not overthrow him and seize power...The situation might get out of control, with irreversible consequences...I don't know how much longer we can hold out against our generals."

Khrushchev would comment to his foreign affairs minister Andri Gromyko, "We have to let Kennedy know that we want to help him...Yes, help.  We now have a common cause, to save the world from those pushing us toward war."

Khrushchev and Kennedy worked out a way to continue communicating through back-channel correspondence that would not be seen by either side's military or security apparatus. As Kennedy later learned, Khrushchev had been facing the same pressures to go to war from his side as Kennedy had on his. "One of the ironic things about this entire situation," Kennedy commented to Norman Cousins, "is that Mr. Khrushchev and I occupy approximately the same political positions inside our governments. He would like to prevent a nuclear war but is under severe pressure from the hardline crowd, which interprets every move in that direction as appeasement. I've got similar problems."

Writes author James Douglass,
"Half a world apart, in radical ideological conflict, both Kennedy in his call for help and Khrushchev in his response had recognized their interdependence with each other and the world. They joined hands. After threatening to destroy the world, the two enemies turned to each other in desperation and grace. Instead of annihilation, they chose, in Khrushchev's words, 'a common cause, to save the world from those pushing us toward war.' " (James W. Douglass, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died & Why it Matters.) 

                                                                         *****

Epilogue
"They had killed Jack because he and his ally-in-peace Nikita Khrushchev were steering the world away from the Cold War toward peace, thereby eliminating the military-industrial-intelligence complex's most treasured weapons- the fear of war, the fear of "Communist takeover," and the manipulative use of Fear itself.  The Cold War was about to end, and with it the covert action arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Agency would have been all but neutered, it's funding and resources cut, its menacing grip on public opinion exposed and eliminated. It also meant the eventual curtailment of many of the defense industries, including the proliferation of nuclear arms.  There would have been no war in Southeast Asia or Vietnam; that, too, was about to end.  A rapprochement with Fidel Castro and Cuba was on the horizon.  Both Jack and Fidel wanted 'a lasting peace.'

"Little attention had been paid to the parting words of a previous president.  President Eisenhower had warned the American public in early 1961 of the evil that had spawned since World War II: 'In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, of the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.' 

"Indeed, it had; so much so that in less than three years, anyone who tried to stop it -including the elected president of the United States- would be eliminated.

"Simply put, peace -particularly world peace- wasn't good for business."
                                                                               -Peter Janney, Mary's Mosaic, pg 390.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Joseph Smith and Polygamy: Persistence of a Myth

Something tells me this photo has been doctored.
Previously: Politics and Religion

I've been reluctant to address this topic because I don't like to publicly criticize people I genuinely like. In fact, my one and only new year's resolution was to stop giving a hard time to people who disagree with me.  The impetus for that resolve was when I noticed I was getting cantankerous and impatient with certain commenters on Facebook who attacked my views while failing to provide a reasoned argument in return. I don't mind people disagreeing with me, but what annoys me is when someone disagrees with me but refuses to provide a reasoned argument as to why.

I knew I had reached bottom meanie when, in my frustration, I called someone on Facebook "a low IQ moron." Reacting like that is not only unkind, it's possibly impolite. So I resolved that in the new year, Facebook would see a kinder, gentler Rock Waterman; I will no longer make fun of anyone's intelligence -not even the really dumb ones.

So that's my one and only new year's resolution: to refrain from calling anyone a low IQ moron.

That doesn't mean I shouldn't be critical of others when the need arises; I should just make sure my criticism is couched in kindness the best I can. So that brings us to my current topic, which necessitates my criticizing the work of someone I genuinely like for other reasons: Lindsay Hansen Park.

Lindsay Park is known for a phenomenal work of cultural anthropology in which she spent considerable time documenting the world of Mormon Fundamentalists and others who practice plural marriage today. She took time to immerse herself in that world, and over time came to know and love many of its practitioners. I doff my hat to Lindsay Park for her accomplishments in this arena; she may well be our foremost expert on modern fundamentalism and is probably more familiar than most about the lives of these people, their belief systems, and generally what it is that makes them tick.  I consider her an expert on the topic of polygamy as it has been practiced since 1844.

What I don't consider her an expert on is the question of polygamy as it was practiced in the church prior to 1844.  Yes, spiritual wifery was a problem in Nauvoo, because some members of the Twelve were seducing young women and clandestinely taking on extra wives. But Joseph Smith was vigorously denouncing the practice and doing everything in his power to stamp it out. Lindsay Park, however, is firmly convinced that Joseph Smith was the the secret originator of the practice.  This is where Lindsay and I part ways, because there is now an abundance of evidence that would cause any reasonable person to recognize that the question is far from settled.

But Lindsay Park remains fully on board with the "Joseph Smith Did Practice Polygamy" train. She appears to be unaware of the research that would call her assertions into question. In fact, I'll go further: Lindsay Park seems to have gone out of her way to remain willfully ignorant of the mountains of evidence that tend to cast serious doubt on the common assumption that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage. She simply doesn't want to hear about it.

Now, in case you are not aware, there are two schools of thought regarding polygamy as it pertains to Joseph Smith. The conventional view (which is the one promoted by the LDS Church) is that the doctrine originated in secret with Smith and was continued by Brigham Young. Those advocating this view acknowledge that Joseph publicly denounced the practice, but they insist he secretly practiced it just the same. They believe the historical record supports that view and anyone who can't recognize that reality just isn't paying attention.

The other view, and the one I subscribe to, is that Joseph Smith adamantly and vigorously fought against polygamy until the day he died, and that those stories that he married anyone other than his wife Emma were falsehoods promoted by Brigham Young and others. They fabricated lies about Joseph for the purpose of lending legitimacy to their own participation in the practice.  Those who adhere to this view believe the historical record exonerates Joseph Smith, and anyone who can't recognize that reality simply isn't paying attention.

So Lindsay Park is firmly in the Joseph-was-a-polygamist camp. In fact, she admits to being constantly frustrated when encountering people who don't share her opinion on this matter. So two years ago she put together a two-part podcast with the purpose of putting this matter to rest once and for all. This podcast, she claimed, would address the concerns of any doubters and convince everyone listening once and for all that Joseph Smith did indeed practice plural marriage - no ifs, ands, or buts.  You can find those episodes here, titled Joseph Smith Did Not Fight Polygamy.  Part two can be found by clicking here. 

Listeners to these two podcasts soon discovered why this "final word on the subject" failed to deliver as promised. First, the panel was decidedly one-sided. Every person on that panel was dedicated to offering their views as to why it's an undeniable fact that Joseph Smith was a polygamist and anyone who believes otherwise must have something wrong with them. No one with an opposing view was asked to be on the panel, and nothing that would contradict the preferred narrative was mentioned.

Secondly, Lindsay herself admitted that she got frequently annoyed, frustrated, and even angry when she found herself engaging with people who did not share her views, and that's the reason she put on this  podcast: to set the record straight once and for all. I would suggest that coming at this from a place of emotional frustration is an odd approach if what you're launching is an attempt at historical inquiry. I would think one would want to approach the topic intellectually rather than emotionally.

If the idea is to embark on an academic investigation, you don't go in with your mind already made up and no dissenters allowed. You certainly shouldn't admit to being mad at people who don't share your opinions. The question of whether or not Joseph Smith was a polygamist is a controversy that is far from settled in the minds of many, so I find it odd that the person launching this inquiry admits to being fully biased from the get-go. Starting from a place of annoyance and anger means you're arguing from emotion rather than from intellect.  The first rule should have been "let's look at this thing dispassionately and see where it takes us."

But then this podcast was Lindsay's baby, so she gets to make the rules. I don't think she claimed it was going to be an academic exercise; that's just me saying it would have been more effective if it had been.

Thirdly, there's the sin of omission: at no time did anyone on this panel bring up or attempt to refute the findings of those researchers who held opposing views. No one in the full two-hour-plus duration of this thing is ever heard arguing substance; they just repeat the same rumors and hearsay that have already been discredited by others who are known to have done their homework. If the goal was to arrive at any semblance of historical truth, this podcast took a curious path to getting there. This is not the way one goes about demonstrating critical thinking. And that, I think, is why it failed.

How About A Little Thought Experiment?
By way of illustration, suppose all you've ever heard about the causes of the second world war is the gradeschool version that states Hitler started the war because he wanted to conquer the world. And then suppose you come across a little booklet with the provocative title "How Britain Initiated Both World Wars." 

Well, you know that thesis is ridiculous because as far as you've ever heard, everybody knows the Germans were the ones who started the first and second world wars. So you decide you're going to refute that thesis. How would you go about refuting it? Would you ignore that book, or would you read it with an eye toward debunking every ridiculous assertion contained wihin it?

Well, you would read it, of course. But then having read it, you realize the book is well-documented and you're surprised to discover you don't know how to debunk the information it holds. Worse, that little book leads you to another, larger and more heavily documented volume that proves  Hitler never would have been a threat if he had not had the support of America and Great Britain in the build-up to WW II. And as much of a monster as Hitler turned out to be, Winston Churchill is proven to have also been such a cold-blooded killer of innocents that he could right now be sharing a cell in hell with Hitler and Stalin and no one who knew him would be surprised to see him there.

And as if all that isn't enough to shake your faith, you learn from the thoroughly documented research of Professor Antony Sutton that while Americans were scrambling to catch up by collecting scrap metal to help in the war effort, American financiers on Wall Street had been helping put Hitler in power and keeping him in power by providing the Third Reich with all the money and armaments it would ever need.

Plenty of professional historians are well aware of the complicated causes of the two world wars, but you are completely blindsided because you never heard any of this stuff before.

So now what do you do? If asked for your opinion on the causes of World War II, you can either reveal some of the anomalies you have discovered from examining the historical record, or, if you want to cling to your fantasies, you wisely keep your mouth shut and don't opine about it at all.

There is a third option, of course. You could decide never to pick up that little booklet -or any other book on the causes of World War II- and blissfully cling to your fixed beliefs. That way you don't have to overcome contrary arguments; you don't have to refute or debunk anything. You merely put forth your own opinions and pretend the discussion is over.

This is the course chosen by the panel in that two-part podcast on polygamy. These presenters are clearly not aware that there exist plenty of actual, legitimate reasons to question the official narrative on polygamy. Did Joseph Smith actually wed multiple women? Could be.  But there are plenty of compelling reasons to suggest he did not. The members of this panel -the panel that is going to put this controversy to rest once and for all, don't forget- never bother to address these reasons because they obviously didn't think those reasons were important enough to look into. They are not familiar with the arguments. How do we know that? Because in the space of two hours and twenty-two minutes, no one on that panel ever brings any of those substantive arguments up. Not even to refute them.

Meet The Panel
The panelists Lindsay chose to weigh in on that podcast with her include John Dinger, John Hatch, and Bryan Buchanan. John Dinger is somebody else I personally like. I've never met him, but I liked him enough to buy his book when it came out nine years ago. The Nauvoo City and High Council Minutes has been a boon to my research on the Nauvoo era, so I appreciate the work Dinger put into that book.

But I learned long ago that just because someone has expertise in one area, it doesn't necessarily translate to expertise in another. John's contributions to the podcast consist mainly of repeating the same dubious hearsay that most Mormons have been taught about Joseph being the originator of polygamy. Do I blame John Dinger? Well, he doesn't appear to be a hostile witness, so I'm willing to give him a pass. After all, he isn't repeating rumors that aren't already held by 90 percent of all Mormons. Could he have examined the issue from all sides before agreeing to appear on this forum? Certainly. Maybe next time he will.

Bryan Buchanan is listed as the book buyer at Benchmark Books and a lover of history. What he mostly contributed to the podcast was a lot of irrelevant information about Richard and Pamela Price, authors of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy. This would have been a good place in the podcast to address some of the findings of the Prices, and even show where Richard and Pamela might have been in error. But Bryan gives us no indication he has ever read any of the Price's extensive research. What he does instead is give us background on Richard Price's disaffection from the RLDS tradition. There is no reason to go into all this immaterial background on the man, unless the intent was to paint Price as some kind of dissenting loner who lacks credibility. That's the only reason I could see for wasting all that time on a whole bunch of nothing.

The third guest panelist, and the one we hear from on the podcast first, is John Hatch, who is (I'm struggling to find a polite descriptor here) a low IQ moron.*

_______________________________________________
*Dang. Only twelve days into the new year and I've already blown it.
   I should have gone for weight loss.


You think I'm being harsh? You won't once you listen to the twaddling gibberish Hatch comes up with. Lindsay had this guy on the podcast for the specific reason of explaining to the listener "why people go to such extreme lengths to believe Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy." (a completely  unbiased assumption if there ever was one, am I right?)

Hatch doesn't really know anything about the people he is asked to weigh in on. In fact he's actually kind of slow to the wind-up, coming off at first as if he's been asked a question on a topic he never considered before. But that's not going to stop him from psychoanalyzing me and everybody else who doesn't share his unassailable views.  Having never spoken with anyone who holds an opinion on this topic contrary to his own, John Hatch falls back on a guess. And what a guess it is. Watch him pull a rabbit out of his butt.

Do you want to know what motivates people to go to such extreme lengths to believe Joseph Smith did not practice polygamy? "It's mostly naivete," Hatch declares knowingly.

Ah, naivete. I didn't know that.

Hatch continues, "But there's also a conspiratorial aspect which I find fascinating."

Oh gee, here we go. Whenever somebody can't come up with a reasoned argument to explain something he doesn't understand (or something he hasn't bothered to look into) he simply dismisses his opponents as conspiracy theorists who, as John puts it, "aren't familiar with any of it."

It is abundantly clear that John Hatch is the one not familiar with the topic under discussion. He clearly has no knowledge of the people he is dismissing with a callous wave of the hand. I almost feel sorry for this poor sap because he is clearly in way over his head. Not to worry, though, because he's clearly up to the challenge. John is going to just wing it. Not having any facts at his disposal, he falls back on his imagination. And boy, does it show.

John Hatch apparently has decided that scholars who have written entire books on the topic must not have spent any time engaged in historical inquiry. Obviously they've never delved deeply into the hoary artifacts to discover what those artifacts are telling us. According to John Hatch, people like me and the authors of the many books and papers on early Mormon history and polygamy haven't investigated anything about this topic.  We're just dumb, unthinking sheep, and when faced with the threatening reality that our dear prophet may not always have been perfect, we've adopted coping mechanisms to help us deal with the fallout.  That's the funniest part of his rambling screed: that upon discovering that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, many of us simply couldn't cope, and had to come up with "explanations" that would enable us to cling to our testimonies of Joseph Smith by denying reality.

I've got news for Brother Hatch. I grew up being taught that polygamy originated with Joseph Smith, and I was fine with it. I was also taught that "one day the Lord will bring back polygamy and we'll all be required to practice it again." And I was fine with that too. I was never surprised to learn Joseph Smith practiced polygamy; knowledge of that was part and parcel of the religion I grew up in, and everyone I've talked to about this tells me it wasn't news to them either. No one I know was thrown for a loop over the possibility that polygamy originated with Joseph Smith. That's what we all believed coming out of the gate. And we were all perfectly willing to accept it.

What did surprise us was learning that the polygamy narrative had some serious holes in it and therefore that narrative warranted closer scrutiny. That's the part that surprised me; not that Joseph might have been involved with polygamy, but that he might not have been involved.

Throughout the entire two hour podcast, John Hatch returns to this same tired theme of desperate Mormons trying to hold onto their tattered faith: Blah blah blah "...conspiracy..." blah blah blah "...feel like they have no control over their lives..." blah blah blah "...conspiracy theory gives them a sense of belonging..." blah blah blah "...don't deal in the same facts and truths the rest of us do..." blah blah blah "...conspiracy theorists..."

It's all very tiring. But if John Hatch can find a conspiracy "theory" in anything I write, I hope he'll let me know what that theory is.

Lindsay and the Boys have some very interesting opinions on those rare instances when they do seem like they might be about to dance close to the fire of controversy. But then they dismiss it and back off. For instance, they admit that William Clayton's diaries are not available, having been kept locked in the vault of the First Presidency since, like, forever. But they think those who want to examine those diaries are -here it comes again- "conspiracy theorists" for thinking it might matter.

Well yeah, I'd say that evidence deliberately hidden away is a problem that matters for people trying to get at the truth of a historical controversy, because if we had access to the diaries we might be able to tell if and when an entry was inserted years after the fact. Did Clayton make an entry in his diary at the very time Joseph is said to have dictated what we know as section 132?  Or was it entered years later? Or never at all?

Most people, when they hear the word "diary," assume the owner of that diary made daily entries. But more often than not, a diary from the pioneer days is more of a memoir, written as far as 40 years after the events they describe took place.  This does not always result in accurate recollections being put into the record.

The modern First Presidency of the Church could put this matter to rest if they weren't constantly hiding historical artifacts from the members, but John Hatch and Lindsay Park only bring up the Clayton diaries in order to make a point about how those wacky conspiracy theorists spend way too much effort thinking it might be a good idea to get a look at the historical documents.

It should also be noted, As Ronald Karren has documented in his book, that we already know Brigham, Heber, and Richards often left large gaps in the pages of their diaries for the express purpose of adding entries after the fact if they needed to fudge facts, dates, and events.  And they often needed to. Karren can show you pictures of added entries written in a different handwriting.

There's a lot I could address about this podcast, including how cavalierly the panel dismissed the idea of the Cochranite influence on Brigham and others. Had there been a contrary voice on that panel, he might have reminded them that a dismissal is not the same as a refutation. Dismissing an argument out of hand only makes it clear that you don't want to deal with it.

How To Get To The Truth About Any Topic
What this panel is seriously lacking in is the capacity for critical thinking. No matter what the topic, it's very easy to become a critical thinker. All you have to do is be willing to ask yourself one question:

"Is there a possibility that I could be wrong?"

I've written over two hundred posts on this blog and it's very rare when someone has to point out any errors I've made in either doctrine or history.

I rarely have to make a correction of fact on these pages after it has been posted. And do you know why? It's because I don't like making a fool of myself. I would rather find out for myself that I'm wrong than to be made a fool of publicly by someone else. So whenever I find myself in a position where I'm completely sure of myself, I ask myself that simple question: "Is there a possibility that I could be wrong?"

I save myself a lot of embarrassment that way.

I wouldn't want to admit how many times I discovered I was wrong about something. I'm just glad all those errors were caught by me and not someone who would rag me about it incessantly over the interwebs.

Another important way of coming to the truth on matters of history is to start out remembering that a great deal of history prior to the beginning of the twentieth century is unreliable. Not just partly unreliable, but mostly unreliable. As Jeff Riggenbach revealed in his extremely important book, prior to the twentieth century we couldn't really rely on what people stated as fact because too often people recorded events as they wished they had happened and not necessarily as they actually occurred. Historians themselves were part of the problem, compiling these errors into books which were then repeated in other books.

When you're dealing with Mormon history, you should just assume that half of what you're reading in the early histories is hokum until shown otherwise, because the temptation for latter-day Saints to inject faith-promoting fables into their histories was so irresistible.

This plain reality somehow escaped the panel in this podcast because they tend to take every utterance from the pioneer practitioners of plural marriage as the gosh-awful truth.  If some woman said she was married to Joseph Smith, well doggone it, she must have been married to Joseph Smith. Never mind if she was careful to note she never lived under his roof, never shared his bed, and never played hide-the-salami with him. She said she was married to him, and that's good enough for Lindsay and the Boys.

The main problem we have with women who claimed to have been sealed to Joseph Smith is that we have come to believe that a sealing is the same as a wedding. It meant no such thing, at least not until Joseph was long dead and Brigham Young started using that word as a synonym for marriage. We really have little idea what was meant by a priesthood sealing when performed by Joseph Smith, other than it was some sort of ordinance by which both men and women were spiritually adopted by Joseph Smith in order to form a chain of connection going back to Adam. From best we can tell, it had something to do with everyone being part of one big happy connected family in the afterlife.

We don't really know because Joseph never recorded what it meant before he was unexpectedly murdered. That's how Joseph described a sealing: it was an ordinance, like being given a blessing or being set apart. For anyone in our day to apply Brigham's later use of the meaning of "sealing" to what Joseph Smith was trying to accomplish is just foolishness. You might as well assume that when you received your patriarchal blessing from your stake patriarch, it meant you just got yourself married to the stake patriarch. It's a priesthood ordinance, not a marriage, for crying out loud.

No doubt you've heard of the letter from Joseph to his close friends the Newell Whitney family? In that letter he asked all three of them to come visit him so he could perform an important ordinance for them.  Some people have interpreted that letter as Joseph wanting to be "comforted" by his young bride, Sarah Ann Whitney.  I don't know about you, but if I were proposing a tryst with some sweet young teenager, the last thing I would do is invite her parents to come along.

Speculation on sealings is fruitless because we just don't know enough about what they were for, just as we know absolutely nothing about what an endowment was when Joseph Smith performed one of those. For decades after Joseph's death, Brigham Young performed endowments that consisted of long ramblings that included anything he felt like yammering on about on a particular day, and they changed significantly every time he did one, until finally around 1876 he put one long boring form of it down in writing and that was the one that stuck.

But it still isn't likely Brigham's endowment ritual had much of a resemblance to Joseph's original. Maybe it did. But again, we don't know.
.
Learn To Be A Forensic Historian
If you want to get at the truth about historical events, you have to learn to get scientific about it. In other words, getting at the truth is not a passive activity where you accept whatever you heard first as the facts of the matter. Accurate history is a science. It isn't all that easy to sort out. Like any science, it requires the use of logic, reason, and common sense. It requires some study and effort.

David Hackett Fischer is one of America's most prominent historians. Thirty years ago I bought a book he wrote, Albion's Seed, which was hailed by other historians as a radically new way of looking at the cultural diversity of the early Americas. It was considered at the time revolutionary, as it showed for the first time why people from the different colonies were not just different from one another, they were so radically different that they had little in common.  The roots of these differences explain why so many Americans are still factious today.

I mention Fischer because he had previously written a book which was actually a rebuke to his fellow historians. The title of that book is Historian's Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought. Fischer effectively criticized his colleagues for the many factual errors in their writings. They didn't tend to check facts, he said, but instead just accepted what they themselves read in other history books, repeating things uncritically and passing them on.  Fischer insisted that historians need to thoroughly investigate what they read and not take anything at face value.

Because David Hackett Fischer was held in such high regard by his fellow historians, that counsel was taken to heart, and 50 years later we're seeing a marked improvement in the writing of history. Authors are making sure their works are as accurate as possible, where many had previously relied on rumor and hearsay.

Insisting on accuracy is good advice for anyone reading or writing Mormon history, because so much of it has been doctored, embellished, or completely fabricated since the death of the founder. I can't help but think Fischer would have a field day critiquing Mormon history. Due to all the deliberate lies and deceptions (not to mention omissions and fabricated additions), Mormon history is among the most unreliable history there is. Here's an example that was brought to my attention just days ago:

In 1901 Joseph Smith III finally got a look at the original letter that had been written by his father from Liberty Jail. It would surprise most members to learn that this letter is quite different from the letter that supposedly made it into our Doctrine & Covenants. Here's what David Price says about it:
The original letter was authentic, but what the Utah LDS did to it is not. They hacked and altered it immensely as they plagiarized it to confabulate their D&C Sections 121, 122 and 123.

When forging Section 121, they omitted the first 631 words in t
he Letter. Between verses 6-7, they omitted another 905 words. Between verse 33 and 34 they removed another 856 words. In total for Sec 121, they removed over 3,000 of Joseph’s words and falsely added over 400 words which he did not say (which changed the meaning of the letter).

When they invented Section 122, they deleted at least 8 words, and added at least forty-three.

When inventing Sec 123, between verses 23-33 they omitted 1,003 words, then INSERTED 247 new words promoting the plurality of gods (a subject which appears nowhere in the real Letter)! In all, 292 words were added, and 90 words subtracted from the portions that they chose to include (not including the 1,003 mentioned above). Also, the final 717 words (including the signatures of Joseph, Hyrum, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McRae).
This is the very kind of thing Fischer warned historians not to gloss over, yet how many Mormon historians have bothered to compare Joseph's original letter with the chopped up and added-to fraud that was inserted into our scriptures? Full details about what is in this letter will be available in Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Volume Four (which has yet to be released), but it gives you an idea of the level of perfidy that infuses our historical documents and why we should follow David Hackett Fischer's wise counsel and never accept our histories at face value. If you are investigating any controversy about Joseph Smith that surfaced after June 27th 1844, have your B.S. detector switched on and at the ready. And if someone insists there is historical consensus on a particular claim made about Joseph Smith after he was dead and unable to defend against it, walk away fast because that person is conning you.  Historical consensus is often dead wrong, and anyone today who expresses absolute certainty about an event they were not around to witness is being disingenuous, to put it kindly.

What We Know Vs. What Some Guy Said
I'm well aware that for some people, truth is not an issue. They don't care what happened nearly two hundred years ago.  Fine. They're living in a bubble of their choosing.

But let's talk about you. Is it important to you that you get your historical information unencumbered by propaganda and editorializing? Are you interested in finding out what really happened, or are you content to just accept what some guy said to some other guy sometime back in 1880 about some event that supposedly occurred forty years before that?

Well, the bad news is, we can't know everything that happened back then with complete certainty. But we can sort through the anomalies, contradictions, distortions, and obvious falsehoods that have grown up around the facts so we can help get a clearer picture than we already have. Here are four excellent publications that can help you sort through the noise. If you're interested in getting at the truth about plural marriage as it pertains to Joseph Smith -or at least as near to the truth as possible- these are the tools you'll want to own:

The Secret Chamber by Val Brinkerhoff
I put this book first on the list only because I was asked to write the preface, so hey...call me an attention hog, but I want you to read it. That preface is where you'll find the story of how I got this close to becoming a polygamist myself back in the late 1970's. I can't stress how essential it is for you to obtain both this book and the next one on the list by Ronald Karren, as both not only complement each other, but both books document the existence of a "secret priesthood" that attempted to operate in Nauvoo without Joseph's knowledge. Referred to interchangeably by its acolytes as the "Secret Chamber" or "Secret Priesthood" The former is the term the Lord used in a revelation to Joseph warning him that men close to him were seeking his destruction. You'll find that revelation in D&C 38: 13 & 28, but documents have surfaced showing members of the chamber warning one another that Hyrum had been snooping about and he might have found out about their Secret Priesthood.

You probably can't come to a real understanding of the polygamy issue without being aware of this secret priesthood that was trying to undermine Joseph.  Most members are not aware that Heber C. Kimball was a Royal Arch Mason before he joined the church, and if you know anything about 19th century Freemasonry, you'll know that any loyalty Kimball may have had to the church or to Joseph Smith took a distant second behind his devotion to "The Craft."  Kimball, along with Brigham Young and Willard Richards, made up the inner circle of the secret chamber, which existed not just to keep secret the polygamy being practiced among its acolytes, but also to plot how they were going to get Joseph out of the way before he exposed them.

Once Joseph and Hyrum were successfully dispatched at Carthage, it was this secret priesthood that scrambled to make certain they were the ones who took over leadership, even though the both the Lord and Joseph Smith had already made it clear that no members of the Twelve were authorized to govern the church. There were some in Nauvoo who had a more solid claim to succession (such as Samuel Smith and William Marks), but those obstacles were easily gotten out of the way to make room for the usurpers.  (See How Jesus Christ Was Ousted as Head of the Church of Jesus Christ and Brigham Young's Hostile Takeover.)

What makes this book of special importance is that it is chock full of citations and footnotes. It's essential when deciding whether or not Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage to recognize that the most important sources are the Lord's words first, followed by Joseph's words and warnings second. You'll find all that in abundance here.

The thing that makes this book especially useful is you can read it two ways. If you choose to read it front to back, that's a good choice. Everything is laid out carefully. One reader told me he thought the author repeats himself too much, but there's a reason for that. He is carefully laying out the case. I've seen this kind of careful explication compared to mowing a lawn -a very big lawn. You run the mower up a long path, then you mow another strip of grass right next to the first one, carefully positioning your mower so that you are overlapping a good part of the first strip you covered so you make sure you're covering everything and not missing a thing.

Another way to read this book is to just dive in anywhere, because there are loads of fascinating sub-chapters where you can learn the truth about most of the rumors, how they originated, and where they fall apart under close examination. For example, beginning on page 48, Brinkerhoff examines every one of the so-called "revelations" on polygamy claimed to have been received by men who came after Joseph Smith, and he shows where those claims fall apart one by one. On page 162 we get "A Short Summary of Mormonism and Freemasonry," which actually isn't that short because it goes on til page 187. Pick any subheading in that section you like and you'll learn stuff you'll probably find disturbing. My point is you can pick up this book, open a page at random and always find something interesting in it. And everything in the book is extremely well documented.

Val initially issued this book rather hastily in 2018 because he was anxious to get it to print, but unfortunately that first edition was riddled with typographical errors. If you bought that first edition, get rid of it because he later issued a corrected and revised 2nd edition with significant improvements and substantial additional material. The second edition is the one you'll want to own. If it looks like the copy on the picture above with the author's name and the words "2nd Edition" on the cover, that's the right one. Ignore the first edition; this one is vastly superior. If you want to make sure you're getting the right version, Look for ISBN numbers  10:1090268394 or ISBN 13:978-1090268396.



The Exoneration of Emma, Joseph, and Hyrum
By Ronald Karren

This book has created something of a sensation since its release in 2017. It deserves all the attention it has been getting, as you'll see when you read it. There are now thousands of Mormons and former Mormons who have come to recognize they've been sold a bill of goods when taught that Joseph Smith was a polygamist, and this book had something to do with supplying that change in outlook.

Karren not only deals with the Secret Chamber, he also analyzes a whole host of claims made by those who insist Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, and dispenses with them in proper order.  If you're looking for something to wash the nasty taste of the polygamy podcast out of your mouth, this book could be the antidote you're looking for.


Again, I can't stress enough how important I feel it is that you obtain at least these two books, both Karren's and Brinkerhoff's.  Karren is no longer a believing latter-day Saint, which gives him an advantage over those critics who believe he is motivated by a desire to rehabilitate Joseph Smith's image. He doesn't give a hang about Joseph Smith's image, since he doesn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet. What Karren is, is a seeker of facts and evidence.  He lets the research take him wherever it goes without worrying about anything but the unvarnished truth. Karren is a guy who recognizes a lie when he sees one -or more accurately, a mountain of lies. 

You'll find plenty in here about how members of the church placed their loyalties to Masonry over their devotion to the gospel.  The author examines those who claimed Joseph was a polygamist, shows the contradictions and inconsistencies in those claims, and shows how in the late 1880's, immediately after one person begins making a new claim, suddenly everyone in Utah starts "remembering" Joseph had told them the very same thing.

I learned just today from several friends online that their comments in the comment section following
 Lindsay's podcast had been deleted, including several instances when listeners left links to this book so others could get a fuller picture of the subject matter. That certainly would explain why, for a podcast that has been up for two years, only a handful of comments can be found, all of them having to do with Bill Nye the Science guy and none of them having anything to do with the subject matter of the podcast.  Obviously the administrator of any online site has the right to block comments if she wishes, but if it's true that Lindsay has been deleting comments that challenge her worldview, I have to say I'm very disappointed.

In the latter part of the book, Karren examines the truly bizarre idea that Joseph Smith (who was by this time hated, derided, and ridiculed across America) had decided to run for president of the United States. Karren provides a compelling argument that, assuming Joseph did float the idea, it was intended as a joke and not to be taken seriously.  More likely, Karren shows us, the idea of Joseph Smith running for president was ginned up not by Joseph but by others, who were either serious about it (not likely) or thought the idea was a pretty good gag (much more likely). Someone printed up a one page flyer touting the candidacy, and to this day that remains the only evidence in existence suggesting Joseph Smith was actually running for president.  Was that flyer intended to be taken as a joke?  Karren seems to think that may have been one purpose for it, since there was never any follow up. Curiously, Brigham and his pals (who, we have been told in our histories) embarked on a trip back East to campaign for Joseph Smith's presidency, did so long after the presidential conventions had already ended. So why would they do that? What was the purpose?  Karren documents the behavior of Young et al while in the East through their letters back home, and suggests they were up to no good.  Buy this book and The Secret Chamber now, and while you're waiting for those books to arrive you can read this excellent synopsis.


Joseph Smith Revealed: A Faithful Telling 

-Exploring An Alternate Polygamy Narrative-
By Whitney N. Horning
For several months I sat at my desk with this book on top of a stack directly behind my head but for some reason I only just noticed it there last week. I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I'm very impressed with what I've seen so far as I've dipped into it randomly. I find it highly readable, and very informative, and I've learned several things I hadn't known about before, which tells you something about how thorough this author is with her research. In a word, I'm impressed. She covers things I haven't seen covered in book form before and I'm glad I got it when I did.

I don't like telling people they have to buy a whole armload of books at once, but if you can manage it, while you're ordering the first two books on this list I highly recommend you latch onto this one as well. I think it's a treasure.


Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, Volume Three
By Richard and Pamela Price

Released just last year, this is the third installment of the series that woke a lot of people up. In here you'll find a continuation of the conspiracy launched by William Law against Joseph Smith, as well as a refutation of the charge that Hyrum Smith secretly taught polygamy.  Also lots more documented instances of Joseph Smith continuing to assert his innocence. Chapter 17 looks interesting, as it would appear the Higbees were conspiring to see that Joseph was assassinated at Carthage because his lawsuit against them would have been their ruination. You wanna talk about "putting this matter to rest," Lindsay Park should have been reading these books instead of clinging to a false narrative that turns out to be largely unsupportable. If you haven't already read the previous two volumes, by all means get volume one and devour that one first. It was a game changer.

I've been told, I don't know how many times, that these books by the Prices have been thoroughly debunked, to which I reply, "Yeah, right."

If anyone tells you that, ask them for the name of the person who did the debunking and where you can read about it in detail. Don't be surprised when they come up empty-handed, as to some people, "debunked" simply means "I can't deal with this right now."

Of Demigods and Dark Knights
By Jeremy Hoop

This is an 18 page transcript of a remarkable talk given by Jeremy Hoop that you can read right now without having to wait. And it's free, so what are you waiting for?

If you're new to this whole controversy, this is an ideal introduction. It's a concise overview of what we know -and more importantly what we don't know- regarding Joseph Smith and polygamy.  There's tons of stuff in here that will make you sit up and take notice.

For instance, I started reading the transcripts of the Temple Lot Case a few years ago, but I never finished that massive volume so I was not aware of something pertinent that Hoop points out in this transcript.

For those who are not aware, the Temple Lot Case, tried in 1890s Missouri, centered around which church had legal claim of ownership to the plot of land in Independence, Missouri where Joseph Smith had laid the cornerstones for the temple that was to be the one where the Lord finally makes his future appearance. The LDS church did not own that land, the Hendrickites owned it. But that plot of land was about to fall into the hands of the RLDS church, so the Utah Church launched a prolonged and expensive legal battle to keep that from happening, on the theory that they might eventually be able to persuade the Hendrickites to sell the temple lot to the Utah Church, but if it fell into the hands of the RLDS Church, they would never, ever get ownership of it.

It was extremely important to the Utah Church that they could lay claim to the legal right of succession, because if some other church winds up owning the only place in the world  where the Lord's True Temple was prophesied to be built, and in which the Lord Himself is prophesied to return to, how does that look to your claims of authority?

So the case ended up being a contest between the the LDS Church and the RLDS Church as to who had the rightful claim of being the church that Joseph Smith founded. The case was presided over by a gentile Judge named Phillips, and the entire case devolved into which church (the LDS, the RLDS, or the Hedrickites) could prove to be the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. The Utah Church pulled out all the stops in an effort to prove they had right of succession, even to the point of pressuring women to (Gasp!) lie for them.

The RLDS church testified that the LDS church could not claim to being the church founded by Joseph Smith because the Utah church had radically altered the religion Joseph taught by introducing polygamy into it. The Utah church countered that claim by providing testimony from three supposed "wives" of Joseph Smith who would prove the doctrine of plural marriage was taught by Joseph and therefore the Utah church had the rightful claim to being founded by Joseph Smith.

Except two of the three "wives" who testified were evasive when directly asked about their marriage to Joseph, and the third, Emily Partridge, had a history of changing her story. A lot. In the end, the judge wasn't buying any of it. But what was new information to me was that nine of Joseph's alleged wives were still living, but only three were willing to testify or provide affidavits affirming they had been married to Joseph Smith.

Now, why do you think that might be? These women were more than happy to claim to have been married to Joseph Smith while they were living in Utah (and married to other prominent church leaders). This was their claim to fame; women who were known to have been sealed to Joseph Smith enjoyed a privileged station in the Utah hierarchy.  They were the Queen Bees of the territory. So why avoid testifying in a trial that had everything riding on it?

I'm guessing that for some of these women it was one thing to strut around as Utah royalty, but it was a different matter when it came to swearing to what they knew was a fraud under oath.  The Church put tremendous pressure on these women to make that claim in open court, but it seems few were willing to put their hand on the bible and swear "so help me God" that they were telling the truth when they knew they were not.

Jeremy delivered this talk in person at the Joseph Smith Restoration Conference in Boise last June, so if you want to watch the video click here. There are other speakers on the docket, so you'll want to fast forward and start at the 45:30 mark where Tausha Larson introduces Jeremy.

In Conclusion...
Some people reading this information for the first time will be tempted to cite the conventional histories as somehow providing "Proof" that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. I advise against stopping there as if the matter has been settled.

There is an abundance of conventional sources out there to choose from.  Some of these are Mormon sources and some are hostile to Mormonism. Some sources are written from the standpoint of believing Mormons and others are written by ex-Mormons who no longer believe. What they all have in common is they echo the same narrative, albeit with minor differences here and there.

I advise against parroting the conventional histories. You won't persuade anyone and you certainly won't impress me. I have owned these books for decades and I've read them all. Remember, I used to believe that plural marriage was ordained of God. I believed that because I read the conventional histories, including nearly every one of the 26 volumes of the Journal of Discourses.

As most accomplished historians will tell you (David Hackett Fischer being chief among them), you don't learn anything by parroting the conventional narrative. You learn by challenging the conventional narrative in order to test any weaknesses in that narrative.

I have provided above five links to challengers of the conventional narrative on polygamy. Overcome the arguments put forth by those challengers and eventually you may find where the truth lies.


Related Post:
Why I'm Abandoning Polygamy

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