Now Mitt Romney wants to push Russia into using nukes and then force China to choose sides. Really.

From an op-ed this weekend in the New York Times by Utah Sen. Mitt Romney:

Some will conclude that to avoid provoking Russia — and thus avoid the prospect of a possible Russian nuclear strike — we should pre-emptively restrain Ukraine from routing the Russian military. We could limit the weapons we send, hold back on intelligence and pressure President Volodymyr Zelensky to settle. I disagree; free nations must continue to support Ukrainians’ brave and necessary defense of their country. Failing to continue to support Ukraine would be like paying the cannibal to eat us last. If Mr. Putin, or any other nuclear power, can invade and subjugate with near impunity, then Ukraine would be only the first of such conquests. Inevitably, our friends and allies would be devoured by brazen, authoritarian nuclear powers, the implications of which would drastically alter the world order.

The right answer is to continue to give Ukraine all the support it needs to defend itself and to win. Its military successes may force Mr. Putin to exit Ukraine or to agree to a cease-fire acceptable to the Ukrainian people. Perhaps his control of Russian media would enable him to spin a loss into a face-saving narrative at home. These are the outcomes he would be smart to take. But if a cornered and delusional Mr. Putin were to instead use a nuclear weapon — whether via a tactical strike or by weaponizing one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants — we would have several options.

There are some who would argue for a nuclear response. But there is a wide range of options, and they need not be mutually exclusive. For example, NATO could engage in Ukraine, potentially obliterating Russia’s struggling military. Further, we could confront China and every other nation with a choice much like that George W. Bush gave the world after Sept. 11: You are either with us, or you are with Russia — you cannot be with both.

Russia’s use of a nuclear weapon would unarguably be a redefining, reorienting geopolitical event. Any nation that chose to retain ties with Russia after such an outrage would itself also become a global pariah. Some or all of its economy would be severed from that of the United States and our allies. Today, the West represents over half of the global G.D.P. Separating any nation from our combined economies could devastate it. The impact on Western economies could be significant, but the impact on the economies of Russia and its fellow travelers would be much worse. It could ultimately be economic Armageddon, but that is far preferable to nuclear Armageddon.

Together with our key NATO allies, we should develop and evaluate a broad range of options. I presume the president and the administration are already engaged in such a process. The potential responses to an act so heinous and geopolitically disorienting as a nuclear strike must be optimally designed and have the support of our NATO allies. Mr. Putin and his enablers should have no doubt that our answer to such depravity would be devastating

So here is Mitt Romney’s logic: we must continue to give Ukraine aid — apparently endlessly — so that a war continues until Russia backs down or until Russia is forced to use nuclear weapons in desperation. The reason is that a nuclear power cannot be allowed to invade another country.

Just two decades ago Romney pushed another nuclear power to invade another country. That nuclear power is the Unites States, and Romney was among the vast majority of politicians who supported the invasion of Iraq.

How does Romney justify one invasion by a nuclear power but condemn another? Of course, we see no discussion of this from Romney, who has apparently forgotten the Iraq invasion altogether.

But Romney does not stop there. Once we have pushed Russia into using nukes, NATO (meaning U.S. and European troops) must directly fight the Russians in Ukraine. This means hundreds of thousands of U.S. boots on the ground. This means thousands of Americans dying in Ukraine. And then Romney says we must give an ultimatum to China (another nuclear power) that they are either with us or against us.

What happens if China decides they are with the Russians? Romney doesn’t say, but the implication is more war on a worldwide scale, with nuclear weapons now a part of the battle plan.

In find this way of thinking disgusting and demented. Notice once again that Romney never mentions peace talks or negotiations as a way of avoiding war. The only options for Romney are weapons and arms and more war to force Russia to do his will. This is exactly the kind of thinking that the Book of Mormon warns against. It is this kind of all or nothing warmongering that brought about the death of the Nephite and Jaredite people.

I have another path. We send humanitarian aid to Ukraine. We pray for peace and rely on Heavenly Father to end the bloodshed. We stop sending military aid of any kind to the region. We push for immediate peace talks between the Ukraine and Russian governments. Let’s end the madness and do the exact opposite of what Romney proposes. Before it is too late.

Mitt Romney, heartless warmonger

Mitt Romney, the heartless warmonger who Utah unfortunately chose to send to the U.S. Senate, put out a video today justifying his vote for $40 billion in aid to Ukraine at a time the U.S. economy is falling apart.

Watch the video here:

Notice what is lacking in this video? A call for peace. Mitt Romney is so incredibly tone deaf and so filled with righteous war-fighting rage that he cannot bring himself to call for peace between Ukraine and Russia. He apparently wants the war to go on endlessly.

Contrast this with the message from a person we all should follow, President Nelson:

“I have been to Ukraine and Russia many times. I love those lands, the people and their languages. I weep and pray for all who are affected by this conflict,” he said. “As a Church, we are doing all we can to help those who are suffering and struggling to survive. We invite all to continue to fast and pray for all the people being hurt by this calamity.”

“Any war is a horrifying violation of everything the Lord Jesus Christ stands for and teaches. The Savior commanded us to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us. It can be painfully difficult to let go of anger that feels so justified. It can seem impossible to forgive those whose destructive actions have hurt the innocent. And yet, the Savior admonished us to ‘forgive all men.’”

Mitt Romney comes across as the worst stereotype of a robotic businessman concerned with dollars and cents and profit and loss. He even brags that the money will enrich the military industrial complex in the U.S.! I am a proud capitalist myself, but Romney sounds like a greedy comic book character rubbing his hands with glee at all of the money being spent to keep the war going. He is an embarrassment to those of us who actually care about free markets and a growing economy.

Of course war is bad for the economy. So, why does Romney want to keep the war going? You know what might end the war? Calls for peace and negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, but we hear none of that from the wooden Mitt Romney.

Romney shows no concern at all for the millions displaced by the war and the tens of thousands already killed in both countries. He is in effect voting for a proxy war in which American money causes more thousands of Ukrainians and Russians to die. I cannot imagine anything more Satanic than gleefully spending money so that other people die in an endless cycle of war.

Has Mitt Romney even read the Book of Mormon and its warning about wars to the death? That is what he is voting for, a war to the death in Ukraine financed by U.S. money.

While Romney votes to spend yet more money in another country, the U.S. economy sinks to its worst condition since the 1970s. I don’t believe in spending government money inside the U.S., but I do believe in cutting the deficit, which would send a strong signal to the markets that the United States is serious about returning to a semblance of fiscal discipline. But no, Mitt Romney believes in the endless printing press, which means more inflation and suffering now and more debt for our children and grandchildren in the future. As the war continues, how many more huge expenditures will Romney justify as a good “investment?”

Like it or not, Russia will not unilaterally withdraw from Ukraine without concessions. I do not defend Russia’s aggressive attack on Ukraine, but I do recognize why Russia attacked and I do recognize that Russia will simply not accept defeat, no matter how much money U.S. taxpayers send there. There are always diplomatic solutions to these differences, and that is what we should be pursuing.

Almost all observers in DC, including Romney, know that Ukraine is part of the Russian sphere of influence and that Russia has unique cultural and security interests in Ukraine. Given that everybody knows this, and they know that Russia will not back down without concessions, why is Mitt Romney eager to send more money so that more Russians and Ukrainians die? You can come to your own conclusions: either Mitt Romney is evil or stupid or disastrously cynical. None of these alternatives should be acceptable to the good people of Utah.

Meanwhile, Utah’s other LDS senator Mike Lee is voting against the $40 billion aid to Ukraine. So, Utah voters do have at least one good man in the Senate. In my home in Colorado, we have none.

Fighting real misinformation from…the government

The U.S. surgeon general sent a message to all 50 states asking for examples of misinformation on COVID during the pandemic. Here was what the surgeon general was expecting: long lists of local social media posts from deplorable people who dared to question the official government narrative.

In the case of at least one brilliant attorney general from the state of Indiana, however, what the surgeon general got was a long list of the misinformation and disinformation peddled by the U.S. federal government. Collaborating with Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, Professor at Stanford University School of Medicine and Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Senior Research Fellow at the Brownstone Institute and former Professor at Harvard University School of Medicine, Indiana Atty General Todd Rokita detailed a few of the most egregious examples of misinformation from the government.

(It might be worth pointing out that M* has discussed many of these issues since the beginning of the pandemic, so it is nice to see our perspective corroborated).

1 Overcounting COVID-19: The official CDC numbers for COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations are inaccurate. The official tallies include many people who have died with rather than from COVID-19. CDC has not distinguished deaths where COVID-19 was the primary cause of death, where COVID-19 was a contributing cause of death, or where the death was entirely unrelated to COVID-19, but they incidentally
tested positive. There are three reasons for this problem. (i) The counting of COVID-19 cases and deaths is unlike the way that public health counts the incidence and mortality caused by other diseases; physicians have been
advised to fill out death certificates to privilege COVID-19 as a proximal cause, even when the medical facts suggest otherwise. (ii) The population-wide testing to identify asymptomatic individuals infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is unprecedented in human history. (iii) Although it would have been easy, CDC has not conducted random national surveys of medical charts to determine what proportion of reported
COVID-19 deaths were truly due to COVID-19. Ex-post audits of death certificates and medical records in Santa Clara County and Alameda County, California, for instance, found that in ~25% of death certificates in which COVID-19 was labeled as the primary cause of death, other causes of death were more likely.

2 Questioning Natural Immunity: There has been consistent questioning and denying of natural immunity after COVID-19 recovery. Using seriously flawed studies, CDC falsely claimed that natural immunity is worse than vaccine acquired immunity.
In October 2020, the CDC director published a “memorandum” in The Lancet, questioning natural immunity. Most critically, by mandating vaccination
for people who have recovered from COVID-19, the government, corporations, and universities de facto deny natural immunity. For scientists, this has been the most surprising disinformation. We have known about natural immunity
since the Athenian Plague in 430 BC; other coronaviruses generate natural immunity; and throughout the pandemic, we knew that the COVID-19 recovered have good natural immunity if and when they get exposed the next time.

3 COVID-19 Vaccines Prevent Transmission: The CDC director and other health officials falsely claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine prevents the transmission of COVID-19 to others. This was also the rationale for vaccine mandates and passports — to prevent the spread of the virus to others.

4 School Closures Were Effective and Costless: In the United States, most schools were closed for in person teaching for some time, and many schools were closed for over a year. This decision was based on false claims that it would protect children, teachers, and the community at large. Already in the early summer of 2020, we knew this was false. Sweden was the only major Western country to keep schools
open throughout spring 2020 without masks, social distancing, or testing. Among these 1.8 million children ages 1 to 15, there were zero COVID-19 deaths, only a few hospitalizations, and teachers did not have a higher COVID-19 risk than the average of other professions.

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The LDS martial artist on The Ultimate Fighter

It seems like we encounter references to members or former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints everywhere we look in popular culture these days. There is an HBO Max series called “Tokyo Vice,” and lo and behold one of the primary characters is a fictionalized former sister missionary who decides to leave the Church and stay in Japan where she works in the…ahem…female entertainment industry. Then there is the “Under the Banner of Heaven” TV series, which is all about Church members, who are mostly portrayed in a negative light.

Lindon Utah native Kaytlin Neil gets a much more positive portrayal on “The Ultimate Fighter,” which is airing every Tuesday on ESPN.

Kaytlin describes herself as the “black sheep” in her LDS family. Her two sisters are married with children, and Kaytlin likes to fight in a cage. We see images of Kaytlin training with teammates in Las Vegas and we see her in a Zoom video with her large Utah family. It’s almost as if Kaytlin went on a mission, but in this case the mission is to knock out or submit other young women.

The Ultimate Fighter pits eight flyweight (125 pound) women — and eight heavyweight men — against each other in weekly fights. If you win the first round, you go to the semi-finals, and if you win the semi-finals you get to compete on air at a UFC event to determine “The Ultimate Fighter” and win a guaranteed UFC contract. I am happy to say that women compete against other women, and men against other men. It is worth pointing out that many people who lose fights still eventually compete in the UFC, so we may see Kaytlin at UFC events even if she does not become The Ultimate Fighter.

Kaytlin’s father, who left the home because of intense addiction problems, died the week before her first fight. Kaytlin was obviously devasted, but she pulled through to win her fight by split decision against a tough fighter from Iowa. This means Kaytlin will advance to the semi-finals, which will be shown in the coming weeks on the show.

What many readers may not know is that US professional martial artists are a very diverse group. A surprising number, perhaps up to half of them, are born again Christians who credit Jesus after winning a fight. And of course there are a lot of people who are avowed secularists. Most martial artists are covered in tattoos, which is not the case with Kaytlin. She talks just like a returned missionary, which is definitely strange — but not unheard of — in the world of martial arts. Watch this video here:

https://www.ufc.com/video/get-know-flyweight-kaytlin-neil-ultimate-fighter-team-pena-vs-team-nunes

I have been following professional martial arts for more the a decade, and I have gotten to know dozens of martial artists personally, and I have never met an LDS martial artist before. So I will be rooting for Katylin.

Thoughtful Faith Podcast

I came across the Thoughtful Faith Podcast this last week and have listened to a few of the episodes. And then as algorithms go, I discovered our own Jacob Hess was a guest on a recent episode. Listen, and then come back and give us your thoughts.