Powerful Earthquake Hits Chile

November 14, 2007 at 12:23 pm | Posted in Chile, earthquake | Leave a comment

News out of Chile, a powerful earthquake, measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale hit the country. No reports of casualties yet, though they will come. The Asian coastlines and Hawai’i should be watchful for any tidal waves to come from this massive quake.

Musharraf and Bush, Bush and Musharraf, two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl

November 13, 2007 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Musharraf, Pakistan | Leave a comment

(courtesy of Pat Oliphant)


Musharraf: Protests are Producing Negative Vibes, Negative Optics

November 13, 2007 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, Foreign Policy, Pakistan | Leave a comment

That’s why he must be a dictator, because the protesting will “disturb” the election process:

The president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, vigorously defended his declaration of emergency rule in a 40-minute interview, insisting that it would not interfere with the holding of free and fair elections.

He defended the decree issued 10 days ago that scrapped the Constitution, dismissed the Supreme Court and resulted in the arrests of 2,500 opposition party workers, lawyers and human rights advocates, and rejected an appeal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to lift emergency rule.

“I totally disagree with her,” General Musharraf said in an interview with The New York Times at the presidential building here on Tuesday. “The emergency is to ensure elections go in an undisturbed manner.”

General Musharraf said the decree was justified because the Supreme Court had meddled in politics, specifically the validity of his re-election, and because of the serious threat from terrorists.

In the interview General Musharraf was critical of the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, saying she was confrontational and would be difficult to work with.

General Musharraf complained about her conduct since her return a month ago, saying: “You come here on supposedly on a reconciliatory mode, and right before you land, you’re on a confrontationist mode. I am afraid this is producing negative vibes, negative optics.”

In the interview, the general, dressed in a gray suit and blue tie, described Pakistan as suffering from a “disturbed terrorist environment.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” he said, when asked when the emergency rule would end. “We need to see the environment.”

Can you say, whacked! Can you say, unhinged from reality! The man is holding on to power he knows he is losing. He’s not going to last long, see. So he has to do whatever he can. Including coming up with the dumbest excuses for his emergency decrees.

This is George Bush’s man. This is the foreign policy of the Bush administration. Coddle dictators who give false promises on democracy. See, if we were to actually have real democracy in the lands of our enemies, it just might end up that our enemies will win power. In the end, democracy is not our overriding priority. We are hypocrites.

Here’s Your Chance, George W. Bush, Stand For Democracy!

November 13, 2007 at 5:34 am | Posted in Bush Administration, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Pakistan | Leave a comment

You’ve got a chance to redeem yourself, Mr. Bush. You want to be known as one who stands for democracy? Then get Musharraf to stop his actions, now! The more Musharraf continues to undermine protests against him, the more the dream of democracy in Pakistan goes away. Do it now, Mr. Bush. Stand up to Musharraf. Just say no! I know you previously sacrificed the Lebanese democracy at the altar of the war on terror, but you can redeem some part of your utterly battered reputation. Say no to Musharraf. Don’t let him get away with this. If this was Ahmadinejad doing what Musharraf is doing, you’d be going bananas about wanting to bomb the hell out of Iran. Why not keep the same standard, eh? When you don’t, it completely undermines your principles in the eyes of everybody else around the world. It tells everybody around the world that you REALLY ARE NOT interested in democracy, only in democracy in your enemies, as a way to overthrow their regimes. What a sad and pathetic foreign policy.

General Musharraf, the Good Orwellian President

November 11, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Pakistan | Leave a comment

Continuing to hone the skills he learned from George W. Bush, President Musharraf announced today:

The Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, refused Sunday to give a date for the end of the de facto martial law that he imposed on the country more than a week ago and suggested that it would continue indefinitely, including during parliamentary elections in early January.

Speaking at a news conference one day after President Bush called him the best president for Pakistan, General Musharraf said the emergency decree he issued on Nov. 3 was justified by the need to fight terrorism and would “ensure absolutely fair and transparent elections.”

Mr. Bush said Saturday that he supported General Musharraf because “we share a common goal” in the fight against Al Qaeda, an endorsement the general appeared to use to his advantage on Sunday as he justified his extrajudicial measures.

“I cannot give a date,” General Musharraf said when asked directly about the lifting of the emergency decree, under which several thousand civilians have been jailed, the nation’s Constitution suspended and the Supreme Court dissolved. “We are in a difficult situation, therefore I cannot give a date.”

“The emergency reinforces the war on terror,” he said.

He also declined to give a date for stepping down as military leader, a move that the United States and other Western countries have requested as a sign of his seriousness about a transition to democracy.

General Musharraf repeatedly stated he had not violated the Pakistan’s Constitution, which he suspended and replaced with a provisional constitutional order drawn up by his aides. At one point he said, “I had to take a drastic measure to save the democratic process.”

The general described his action as a selfless one. “I found myself between a rock and a hard surface,” he said. “I have no egos and no personal ambitions to guard.”

Ah such the nobel spirit. Because the democratic process was in such danger, the only course is to go totalitarian. Huh…This is Bush’s world, where bad is good, evil is right, etc.

The Consequences of Bush’s Wars

November 9, 2007 at 4:44 pm | Posted in American politics, George W Bush, War | 15 Comments

(courtesy of REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES))

Which of these actually fought in a war and which has never fought in a war?

Quote of the Day – “You People Are Really Nuts!”

November 9, 2007 at 2:57 pm | Posted in American politics, Media | 10 Comments

A waitress in Iowa when asked if Clinton left a tip at the restaurant:

You people are really nuts. There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.

General Musharraf Learned Much From George W. Bush

November 9, 2007 at 1:26 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, Pakistan | 3 Comments

In the interest of self-preservation, knowing that the Supreme Court was going to rule against him, General Musharraf ordered martial law last week in Pakistan, jailed the Supreme Court justices he knew would vote against him and installed his own loyal judges. Lawyers across the nation protested, were beaten and arrested by Musharraf’s men. Today was to be a day of protest led by Benazir Bhutto, in what just simply seems a weirdly scripted scenario. Maybe she’s just ineffectual as a true revolutionary leader, but she seems to be taking this all in strides. Maybe Pakistan is still in denial about what Musharraf is doing, consolidating his power like he is.

Take his actions today, putting Bhutto under de facto house arrest.

Benazir Bhutto, who had threatened to lead a major protest rally in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi to challenge President Pervez Musharraf’s emergency rule, never made it out of her quiet, tree-lined street in Islamabad. By dawn Friday scores of helmeted riot police, some armed with automatic weapons, had cordoned off the road at each end, blocking it with coils of barbed wired and armored cars. Police were also picketed just outside the gate and wall of her two-story house. Clearly, Musharraf had placed her under de facto house arrest.

Later in the morning the police rather politely rolled back the barbed wire to allow several senior Bhutto aides and members of parliament from her Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to walk to her house and meet with her. But the same courtesy was not extended to perhaps three dozen party activists and supporters who came individually or in small groups. As they approached the barricade they were quickly arrested and thrown into police vans. Several women, both young and old, one carrying a bouquet of flowers for Bhutto, were among those arrested. Some of those arrested went quietly, others raised a V sign with their fingers, others wailed and shouted, and some unfurled red, black and green PPP flags and shouted, “Long live Benazir!” and “We will not obey the emergency!”

The New York Times puts it this way:

In a huge show of force, the Pakistani government stopped a protest rally by the opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto, before it started today, blanketing the rally site with thousands of police today, blocking roads to stop demonstrators, and barricading Ms. Bhutto inside her residence in Islamabad.

In Rawalpindi, the nearby garrison town where the rally had been due to take place, double lines of police and police vans prevented most of the thousands of demonstrators from entering the city to protest emergency rule, which the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, declared six days ago. Thousands of party workers had already been arrested over the past few days, party officials said.

Now, the reason I said this was weirdly scripted is because of this:

On the surface, the crackdown on the rally and Ms. Bhutto’s detention appeared to be an obstacle to power sharing negotiations that had been taking place for several weeks between Ms. Bhutto and General Musharraf. But the events today do not exclude the possibility negotiations continue by back channels.

I wonder, just what does Ms. Bhutto think she will be negotiating with a general who is so blatantly disregarding the rule of law? That’s why I mean this is like following a script. Why does Ms. Bhutto trust the General? I mean, look at his justification for stomping on her protest:

In justifying Ms. Bhutto’s detention, the Pakistan government said that that there had been credible evidence she could have been the target of a terrorist attack during the rally.

Um, huh, how would he know something like that? She may indeed, but the terrorist might not have been an Islamic fundamentalist from the Pashtun region. He may have been in Islamabad, sitting in a pretty palace…

Seriously, what kind of threat is Ms. Bhutto to Islamic fundamentalists? After all, she is pushing for democracy in Pakistan. They WANT democracy in Pakistan, because it would mean more influence for them! The only person Ms. Bhutto is a real threat to is the General, Mr. Musharraf.

So why do I title my post “General Musharraf Learned Much from George W. Bush?” Because of that last quote there, where the reason Musharraf decided to squash Ms. Bhutto’s protest was because of some anonymous terror threat to her life. Does that sound familiar to anyone? Why does President Bush justify torture? Why does President Bush justify spying on Americans? Why does President Bush justify violating the Constitution? Because of some vague anonymous terror threat!

Pakistanis know that this clampdown by Musharraf has nothing to do with terrorism. From the elite to the lowest Pakistani:

In interviews on the streets of Islamabad, the capital, and in this nearby garrison city over the last three days — rich and poor, professionals and laborers, members of the security forces and civilians — they overwhelmingly opposed the president’s emergency decree, rejecting it as a naked attempt by General Musharraf to bolster his fading powers.

“People are not fools,” said Muhammad Saleem, 35, a phone shop clerk in a wealthy section of Islamabad, the capital. “They do understand it’s not to stop militancy.”

Uniformly, they said the decree had reduced General Musharraf’s already low popularity. “If I stood for election here,” said Jehangir Ahmed, a welder from Rawalpindi, “I would win more seats than Musharraf.”

And what the United States doesn’t seem to get a real good grasp of is that General Musharraf’s naked power grabs severely affect our “war on terror.”

It never had to be this way. Bush could actually have stuck to his principles and not backed a dictator, but instead tied funding of this dictator to verifiable promises that he would move away from totalitarianism. Problem is that Bush would never have done this, because he AGREED with Musharraf’s choice of governance over Pakistan.

So sad.

Smoking Gun on Torture

November 8, 2007 at 4:52 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Torture | 3 Comments

Steve Benen writes about ABC’s recent report on the rendition of al Libi. It seems there is documentary evidence the United States government not only knew he would be tortured but they USED his false confessions as evidence to invade Iraq!

Under torture after his rendition to Egypt, al Libi had provided a confession of how Saddam Hussein had been training al Qaeda in chemical weapons. This evidence was used by Colin Powell at the United Nations a year earlier (February 2003) to justify the war in Iraq. (”I can trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided training in these [chemical and biological] weapons to al Qaeda,” Powell said. “Fortunately, this operative is now detained, and he has told his story.”)

Except, of course, his story was bogus, and the result of torture and rendition.

Here was a cable then that informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war — the al Qaeda/Iraq link — was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive.

Although there have been claims about torture inflicted on those rendered by the CIA to countries like Egypt, Syria, Morocco and Uzbekistan, this is the first clear example of such torture detailed in an official government document.

It is refreshing, and ultimately sad, to see the documented evidence of real wrongdoing. In a just world, numerous members of the Bush administration (including Bush and Cheney) would be tried for war crimes and high treason for violating the Constitution.

We are experiencing among our clients an awakening that the United States is in big trouble

November 8, 2007 at 4:52 am | Posted in capitalism, markets | Leave a comment

That is the most disturbing quote in this article about our market today.

Stock markets plummeted and the dollar sank to a record low against the euro yesterday as investors worldwide grew skittish over rising oil prices and the prospect of a substantial economic slowdown in the United States.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 360 points and the broader stock market dropped nearly 3 percent, driven down by fear that the troubles in housing are likely to continue well into next year, contributing to further losses in credit markets and spreading pain to the rest of the economy. After a relatively strong summer, consumer spending is expected to tighten and business profits slow in the months ahead, analysts said.

We’ve been warned that this housing bubble would burst, and the result would not be pretty.

The rise in oil prices, which briefly traded yesterday above $98 a barrel before settling at $96.37, now appear to be pushing up the cost of gasoline, heating oil and jet fuel as well. That only intensified concern that American consumers may no longer be able to sustain their spending on other goods and services, particularly the large numbers of gas-guzzling vehicles still being turned out by the Detroit automakers.

The most immediate trigger for the sell-off in the dollar, traders said, was a jarring signal that suggested China might shift some of its enormous hoard of foreign currency reserves — worth more than $1.4 trillion, primarily in dollars and dollar-denominated assets — into other currencies to get a better return on its money.

“We will favor stronger currencies over weaker ones, and will readjust accordingly,” Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress told a conference in Beijing on Wednesday. A Chinese central bank vice director, Xu Jian, said the dollar was “losing its status as the world currency,” according to Bloomberg News.

Mr. Cheng later told reporters he was not saying China would buy more euros and dump dollars. But as markets opened across Europe, those words echoed as an invitation to sell the American currency.

The dollar fell to its lowest level against the Canadian dollar since 1950, the British pound since 1981, and the Swiss franc since 1995. The euro rose to a new record, $1.4729, before retreating.

I’m not a market analyst, so I’m not sure which way this will go, but it doesn’t look good.

Diplomacy With Iran Actually Works

November 7, 2007 at 1:08 pm | Posted in Diplomacy, Iran | 1 Comment

Last week Secretary Gates told reporters that EFP attacks in Iraq were way down and that Iran had curbed its supply efforts into Iran. Today the U.S. military announced that it would release nine Iranian “captives” (Best to avoid the word diplomat or intelligence operative). According to Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of the Multi-National Force-Iraq’s communications division:

Iran appeared to have kept its promise to stop the flow into Iraq of bomb-making materials and other weaponry that Washington says has inflamed insurgent and militia violence and killed hundreds of U.S. forces.

Look at that. Diplomacy works.

huh, how ’bout that! who would have thunk it. Imagine that.

Was Musharraf Behind Bhutto’s Assassination Attempt?

November 7, 2007 at 12:07 am | Posted in Pakistan | 9 Comments

Last week, after Musharraf called for martial law, I wondered to myself about the assassination attempt on Bhutto, who had just come back from exile. I wondered if Musharraf might not have been the guy behind that assassination attempt. After all, who represented the greatest threat to his rule than the popular Ms. Bhutto. I didn’t want to actually say anything, because that’s a pretty hefty accusation to make without any evidence.

But now Benazir Bhutto writes in an op-ed in the New York Times about Musharraf’s martial law, and she states a most interesting thing:

In my view, General Musharraf’s ruling party understood that it would be trounced in any free elections and, together with its allies within the intelligence services, contrived to have the Constitution suspended and elections indefinitely postponed. Very conveniently, the assassination attempt against me last month that resulted in the deaths of at least 140 people is being used as the rationale to stop the democratic process by which my party would most likely have swept parliamentary elections. Maybe this explains why the government refuses to allow the F.B.I. and Scotland Yard to assist in a forensic investigation of the bombings.

She would know better than I. I wonder when he might make another attempt on her life.

Excellent Review of “Dead Certain”

November 5, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Iraq | 1 Comment

New York Times Book Reviews are generally among the best reviews you can find, and this one does not disappoint, a review of “Dead Certain” about George W. Bush and his presidency.

(courtesy of Doug Mills/The New York Times)

The reviewer ends with a quote from James Madison, who wrote:

“In no part of the Constitution is more wisdom to be found than in the clause which confides the question of war or peace to the legislature, and not to the executive department. … War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. … It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered, and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.”

Sacrificing Pakistan

November 5, 2007 at 8:54 pm | Posted in Bush Administration, Pakistan | Leave a comment

(courtesy of Arif Ali/Agence France-Presse–Getty Images)

The lawyers are protesting Musharraf, and it’s not looking good. The Bush administration is fairly silent (imagine if this was Iran, for example, or remember what they said about Burma), because they are caught red handed propping up this military dictator, a complete slap in the face to their own soaring rhetoric on democracy. Their hypocrisy has not known a bigger target than Pakistan.

Who knows in what direction this will go. You generally can’t tell with civil wars, revolutions, and clampdowns by totalitarian regimes.

How long the lawyers could keep up their revolt without the support of opposition political parties, which so far have been lying low, remained in question.

That is indeed a great question. The military is highly pervasive in Pakistani culture and life. Just how could someone overthrow Musharraf unless they come from within the military? Pakistan has been unstable throughout its young history, and will likely remain so for a long while. One has to wonder, with all the lawyers protesting, just what is the relation between lawyers and the military? I’ve seen that retired military officers go on to do business. I’m curious how many lawyers used to be in the military…

A Supreme Court justice, Rana Bhagwandas, who is also under house arrest, said in a telephone interview that the United States should press for the restoration of democracy in Pakistan.

“The United States is a democratic government and democratic governments should work for democratic values across the globe,” Mr. Bhagwandas said. “Pakistan is no exception.”

Unfortunately for Pakistan (and the rest of the world), the Bush administration will do no such thing, because they’ve never had at their heart the movement of democracy. They have sacrificed democracy on the altar of the war on terrorism before (think Lebanon in the summer of 2006) and they will do it again in Pakistan. The irony, of course, is that Bush’s administration is so inept and so clumsy that if they really did have terrorism as their top priority, Pakistan would never have come to this.

Bush’s priority has always been, and always will be, the furthering of the Republican party domestically. It doesn’t matter who else loses as long as they win.

Excellent Commentary on Iraq, From Early On

November 5, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Posted in conservatives, corruption, Iraq, Republicans | Leave a comment

And another hit and run, in which is asked a most pertinent question:

I find myself with a few spare minutes and make the mistake of reading Thomas Friedman again. His conclusion after a long, dull and witless ramble about the introduction of “democracy” to Iraq (just what the Gulf region needs, more puppet states) reads “If [it is] done right, the Middle East will never be the same. If done wrong, the world will never be the same”. There’s not much you can say to that except “shut up you silly man”. But it does inspire in me the desire for a competition; can anyone, particularly the rather more Bush-friendly recent arrivals to the board, give me one single example of something with the following three characteristics:

1. It is a policy initiative of the current Bush administration
2. It was significant enough in scale that I’d have heard of it (at a pinch, that I should have heard of it)
3. It wasn’t in some important way completely fucked up during the execution.

It’s just that I literally can’t think what possible evidence Friedman might be going on in his tacit assumption that the introduction of democracy to Iraq (if it is attempted at all) will be executed well rather than badly.

This was asked in February 2003.

Why this administration is losing me on Iraq, in which it is clearly laid out in August 2003 that if the Bush administration would not increase troop size immediately, the mission would end up being a failure. An excellent analysis.

The D-Squared Digest One Minute MBA – Avoiding Projects Pursued By Morons 101, in which sound business principles are applied to show how foolish it is to follow Bush into war.

Operation Agent Snipe, in the which it is highlighted how we were bamboozled by the WMD trick to our great detriment.

finally, The duToitification of the Western Conservative, in which the wimpification of the modern Conservative is well highlighted.

More Sleep, Less Television

November 5, 2007 at 2:19 pm | Posted in children, sleep, television | 4 Comments

It seems the scientific research has proven common sense correct in regards to the problems facing our children today. One report shows that the more sleep children get, the less fat they are by the sixth grade. Which makes sense, of course. The body needs a healthy amount of rest when you are a child. Children need an average of 10 hours of sleep a night. (My daughter certainly didn’t get that last night, and didn’t let us get it last night either—but that’s another story) 🙂

The other report notes that the less television children watch the better off they will be. And the less they watch of violent shows (such as Rugrats, or Power Rangers, etc), the better off they will be.

All of this is good common sense though, but it is nice to see the science behind the reason. 🙂

Will Bush Follow Musharraf’s Lead?

November 5, 2007 at 5:31 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, liberals, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 14 Comments

Juan Cole wonders:

If Bush and Cheney are ever tempted into extreme measures in the United States, Musharraf has provided a template for how it would unfold. Maintain you are moving against terrorists and extremists, but actually move against the rule of law. Rubin has accepted the suggested term of “lawfare” to describe this kind of warfare by executive order.

Realistically, how many conservatives would actually be upset if, say, Bush were to keep power and go around arresting liberals…

Waterboarding is Torture, Mr. Mukasey

November 4, 2007 at 9:05 pm | Posted in Torture | Leave a comment

See, it wasn’t that hard. Better pay attention to these kinds of JAGs, Mr. Mukasey. They know what they are talking about.

Musharraf, Bush’s Man in Pakistan Declares Martial Law

November 3, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Pakistan | 6 Comments

This must be talked about. I’ve warned before that Pakistan is our most dangerous situation in the world right now. Not Iraq. And certainly not Iran. Both Bush and Bin Laden have the same exact strategy, “fight them in Iraq so we don’t fight them here.” For Bush it is so we don’t fight them in America. For Bin Laden, it is so we don’t fight them in Pakistan.

Today, General Musharraf, our dictator in Pakistan, who has several nukes in his arsenal, has declared martial law in Pakistan. This is of course very significant. The reason he declared martial law is because his position is weakening. So instead of bowing out (which is what happens in democracies) he holds on to his power by tightening his grip. This is going to end badly for Pakistan. Nothing good will come of this. And who knows, mayhap in the not too distant future, we might have to get involved. After all, if Musharraf falls and Pakistan goes to the Islamic fundamentalists…well, what is the stated goal of our GWOT (Global War on Terror)? One wonders then if part of the deal we gave to India in exchange for providing them nuclear technology back in 2005, was not also that they would be our proxy in Pakistan should Musharraf fall.

Our dear leader really is doing what he can to exacerbate another world war.

Tonight, Senator Enver Baig, a leading member of Ms. Bhutto’s party, stood in front of the country’s Supreme Court building and called on the United States and its allies to rein in General Musharraf.

“The only answer to all these problems is a fair election and a civilian government,” he said, as police cordoned off the court building. “It’s a very sad day for Pakistan.”

Indeed it is.

Fast Sunday Cometh

November 3, 2007 at 11:07 am | Posted in American politics, Church, Fast Sunday, fasting, Mormon | Leave a comment

danithew on Mormon Mentality came up with a great idea to remind us to prepare for Fast Sunday. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, every first Sunday of the month is Fast Sunday, wherein we are to fast for two meals (or twenty four hours). Though it isn’t specified to fast exactly twenty four hours, many people do to show an increased faith. The last two or so hours tend to be the hardest. One time on my mission, we held a mission wide fast on the first Sunday of August in 1996. That Sunday was a particularly hot day, and those last two hours were miserable. But we were fasting to find someone that month and baptize him by the end of the month. My companion and I were the only ones in the mission to have accomplished just that. We found a young man through a member family and baptized him on August 31.

With the fast, we also provide a fast offering to the church, money to be used to help those in need. Generally the fast offering is to cover the amount we would have spent on the food we would have eaten in those two meals. It is recommended that we give a generous fast offering though. This money assists members of the ward who are in dire need, and it is definitely needed.

Fasting on the first Sundays also gives us a chance to ask of the Lord, through fasting and prayer, for assistance in some manner, whether for ourselves or for others who need the Lord in their lives. In Matthew 17 we learn an important lesson about praying and fasting:

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Why can’t prayer alone do it? Probably because it requires preparation. Even the Lord’s closest disciples need to prepare to be in tune with the Spirit in order to accomplish the will of the Lord. And that’s where this post of mine comes in. Fast Sunday requires preparation. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said of fasting without preparing:

We observe that in the scriptures, fasting almost always is linked with prayer. Without prayer, fasting is not complete fasting; it’s simply going hungry. If we want our fasting to be more than just going without eating, we must lift our hearts, our minds, and our voices in communion with our Heavenly Father. Fasting, coupled with mighty prayer, is powerful. It can fill our minds with the revelations of the Spirit. It can strengthen us against times of temptation.

There is no point in going fasting without praying, and there is no point in just praying if you don’t know what you are praying for, in this regard.

Fast for a purpose other than to go starving.

Elder Joseph B. Worthlin continues:

Fasting and prayer can help develop within us courage and confidence. It can strengthen our character and build self-restraint and discipline. Often when we fast, our righteous prayers and petitions have greater power. Testimonies grow. We mature spiritually and emotionally and sanctify our souls. Each time we fast, we gain a little more control over our worldly appetites and passions.

Fasting and prayer can help us in our families and in our daily work. They can help us magnify our callings in the Church. President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “If you want to get the spirit of your office and calling as a new president of a quorum, a new high [councilor], a new bishop [or, I might say, a Relief Society president]—try fasting for a period. I don’t mean just missing one meal, then eating twice as much the next meal. I mean really fasting, and praying during that period. It will do more to give you the real spirit of your office and calling and permit the Spirit to operate through you than anything I know.” 4

And that is its strength. It helps us improve. It helps us get closer to God. It helps us get further away from worldly passions and desires. These are good things to do. Our lives would improve with each fast.

So as today is the day before the fast, I recommend to all my readers to prepare for the fast. Think about the things you need from the Lord. Think about the Lord. Pray that you get closer to Him.

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