Open Letter to Glenn Beck: Short and Long Term

Hello Glenn:

Congratulations on the success of the Restoring Honor rally. I would have enjoyed the experience of gathering on the mall with you and other patriotic Americans.

However, I am concerned that you are sacrificing critical moral values to build short term gain.  It has been disappointing to learn that you have gone on record saying that "homosexual marriage is not a threat to the country.”

Last June I posted an article entitled "Freedom to Marry?" on this blog. In that article, I attempted to explain to a former professional colleague why I support laws that limit the term "marriage" to the union of one man and one woman.

A brief excerpt:

"Inherent in our existence as human beings all of us possess free will, also called agency, or the ability to act for ourselves and not be acted upon by someone else.   …  As members of a civil society, we accept limitations on how we exercise our agency based on two fundamental principles:

  1. A person may act in ways that do not harm or threaten other people or property.
  2. A person may act in ways that do not undermine the ability of the society to flourish and sustain itself.

"The first principle largely addresses immediate or short term affects; the second encompasses long term consequences.  Restrictions on marriage within our society are primarily based on the second principle."

Glenn, I believe you, like too many others, err in limiting attention to only the first principle, without regard to the second.  The Thomas Jefferson phrase you quote, “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?” certainly is limited to only the first principle.

I believe that we must, as a moral society, accept and defend both principles.  Certainly the Judeo-Christian tradition you claim to espouse encompasses both the short and long term views.

Best regards,

Mark Dixon

Sequim, Washington: To Swim or to Shoot?

According to a recent post in the International Business Edge, the small town of Sequim, WA, has an Identity Crisis … big time:

“The U.S. town of Sequim, Washington has long claimed that ‘in the native language of the S’Klallam tribe, ‘S’Kwim’ means quiet waters,’ as indicated on the town website. However, a linguist recently revealed that a correct translation would actually be ‘a place for going to shoot.’”

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Quiet Waters” or “A place for going to shoot.”  Quite a contrast, don’t you think?

For more insight, you can Listen to the story on NPR.org or read the article by the Associated Press.

With shooting potentially involved, I wonder why NRA.org hasn’t picked up the story!

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Flying the Friendly Skies of Uzbekistan Airways

Have you ever visited Uzbekistan?  Me neither.

I may never go if I need to rely on the Uzbeki (is that a word?) national airline, whose billboard ad wishes us “Good Luck” as an airliner disappears into a dense cloud with apparent snowy weather ahead.

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Thanks to The International Business Edge for pointing out this fun example of a somewhat misguided effort at language translation.

By coincidence, I stumbled today across a second encouraging article about this fine country.  The Kansas City FBI office reported today that “an Uzbekistan national pleaded guilty in federal court today to his role in a criminal enterprise involving illegal aliens working in 14 states, including employees at hotels in the Kansas City, Missouri area and in Branson, Missouri.”

Maybe this fellow and his cohorts were so scared by the prospect of the flying Uzbekistan Airlines that they came to the United States and took up smuggling illegal aliens instead.

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Russia’s New Police State

imageI had a quite unpleasant experience with one branch of the US National Police, the Transportation Security Agency, in the Phoenix airport last week, but that pales in comparison to what is happening in Russia.  According to the Newsweek article, “Russia’s New Police State,” the increasingly totalitarian Russian government has enacted two new laws giving Russia’s “spectacularly corrupt, inept, and brutal police” sweeping new powers.

In a nation whose government has apparently moved to restore the brutal excesses of the USSR secret police,

“Public trust in the police has cratered; according to a recent survey by the Moscow-based Levada Center, more than 70 percent of Russians distrust all branches of law enforcement. ‘Russia is now one of those countries where citizens expect more unpleasantness, problems, and even criminality from the police than from actual criminals,’ says independent political analyst Nikolai Zlobin”

The first new law:

“gives the FSB [Federal Security Service] powers to arrest people on suspicion of planning an act ‘contrary to the country’s security’ before they have actually done anything illegal. The law also establishes fines and detentions of up to 15 days for people seen as ‘hindering the work of an FSB employee.’ The new powers given to the secret police under the new law was one of the reasons cited by presidential human-rights adviser Ella Pamfilova for her resignation last month.”

The second law goes even further:

“Despite some clauses included at the behest of the Presidential Human Rights Commission—such as an explicit ban on torture—much of the new law would extend the police’s already extensive authority. They would have almost unlimited power to stop and search people and to detain them for up to an hour just to check their documents, a reversal of the presumption of innocence enshrined in the Russian Constitution. Police can also now enter private homes without a warrant.”

So maybe the TSA, with all their snappy new police uniforms, condescending bravado and increasingly privacy-infringing search methods, aren’t so bad … yet.  But we must always be wary and watchful.  The freedoms we enjoy, those guaranteed by an inspired constitution, must never be subjugated to over reaching police power.

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Imprimis: Tea Parties and the Future of Liberty

If you are not already a regular reader of Imprimis, a monthly publication of Hillsdale College, I strongly encourage you to start. 

image “Imprimis is the free monthly speech digest of Hillsdale College and is dedicated to educating citizens and promoting civil and religious liberty by covering cultural, economic, political and educational issues of enduring significance.  The content of Imprimis is drawn from speeches delivered to Hillsdale College-hosted events, both on-campus and off-campus.  First published in 1972, Imprimis is one of the most widely circulated opinion publications in the nation with over 1.8 million subscribers.”

A subscription to deliver a printed version mailed to your home is free; an electronic copy is at your fingertips on the web.  I always enjoy the insightful commentary from a broad range of speakers, all devoted to the principle of freedom.

image This month’s issue was adapted from a speech by Stephen F. Hayes, Senior Writer, The Weekly Standard.  Entitled “The Tea Parties and the Future of Liberty”, the article highlights the rise of the Tea Party movement and discusses the objectives of participants of the movement.

How did the Tea Party movement begin?

“The accidental founding of the Tea Party movement took place in February 2009, when CNBC commentator Rick Santelli let loose a rant against the stimulus package, and in particular the proposal to subsidize what he called “the losers’ mortgages.” He proposed a ceremonial dump of derivative securities into Lake Michigan, and a few hours later a website popped up calling for a Chicago Tea Party. The video clip raced around the Internet, and it was soon clear that many average Americans were furious about the massive new spending bill and the plan to subsidize bad mortgages.”

Who is involved in the Tea Party movement? In July, 2008, during the last presidential campaign, John McCain participated in a town hall in Belleville, MI.  A provocative question was posted by Rich Keenan, who told McCain he would not be voting for Obama.  But then he said: “What I’m trying to do is get to a situation where I’m excited about voting for you.” 

Hayes explains further:

“I talked with Rich Keenan after the town hall. He described himself as a conservative independent. He said he often votes Republican but does not consider himself one. He added, “I do think that there are millions of Americans out there like me who are fairly conservative, probably more conservative than John McCain, and I think a lot of them are concerned about what’s going to happen if he does get elected.”

So who participates in the movement?

“Keenan was right. There were millions of people out there like him—conservatives, independents, disaffected Republicans, and many of them stayed home on election day. These people form the heart of the Tea Party movement.”

“…The Tea Party movement arose in an environment in which a growing number of Americans believed neither party was voicing its concerns.

“… This dissatisfaction flows directly from the president’s policies and those of his party. It is not simply “anti-incumbent,” as many of my press colleagues would have it. This voter outrage—and it is outrage, not hate—is specific and focused: Americans are fed up with big government and deeply concerned about the long-term economic health of their country.”

Besides the outrage against big government and massive spending, there is a deeper concern:

“For many Tea Partiers, the massive and unconstitutional growth of government is the fundamental issue. But I think there’s something deeper, too. After her husband had won several primaries in a row in the spring of 2008, Michelle Obama proclaimed that for the first time in her life she was proud of her country. It was a stunning statement. It also foreshadowed what was to come: Since Barack Obama took office in January 2009, he has devoted much of his time to criticizing his own country. He apologizes for the policy decisions of his predecessors. He worries aloud that the U.S. has become too powerful. He has explicitly rejected the doctrine of American exceptionalism.”

So, what will become of the Tea Party movement?  Will it have a profound effect in the upcoming election?  Only time will tell.  The proof will be in the pudding, as they say.

Where you stand?  I attended a Tea Party rally once.  I was impressed with many of the speakers, but was disturbed by the hateful fringe.  I asked that my name be taken off the mailing list when a few people on the Tea Party website commenced a hateful diatribe against Congressman Jeff Flake, who, in my mind, is as close to an ideal congressional representative as we have in government today.

The hateful fringe does a disservice to a legitimate grassroots movement fueled by concerns that echo my own: rapid growth of government, overspending and over-taxation, rejection of traditional values and the principles of American exceptionalism.

I do hope the Tea Party movement succeeds, if it serves as a catalyst to encourage disaffected American voters to engage in civil debate and bring about a profound effect this year’s election – a step towards reducing the size of government, reducing spending and taxes, and reversing the trend towards moral decay and apology for the greatest nation in the world.

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Jon McNaughton: One Nation Under God

The following YouTube video features artist Jon McNaughton speaking about his painting depicting his belief, which I share, that the Constitution of the United States was inspired by Jesus Christ.

The rich symbolism in the painting is explained via an informative interactive page on the McNaughton Art website:

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From the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I quote the words of the Savior:

77 According to the laws and aconstitution of the people, which I have suffered to be established, and should be maintained for the brights and protection of all flesh, according to just and holy principles;

78 That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral aagency which I have given unto him, that every man may be baccountable for his own sins in the day of cjudgment.

79 Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in abondage one to another.

80 And for this purpose have I established the aConstitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose, and redeemed the land by the bshedding of blood.

(D&C 101: 77-80)

Mr. President, Whose Side are You On?

I agree with the analysis articulated in this video, that by taking the side of a foreign nation in sponsoring legal action against the State of Arizona, the President of the United States is abdicating his constitutional duty to protect the citizens of the United States of America.

Is treason too strong a word?

Lest you think I’m too radical, I urge you to read my previous blog, “Dearth of Leadership Take 2, or Leadership by Litigation,” where I explain that I am not in favor of SB1070, and outline my proposed plan to solve the immigration challenge.

However, as a citizen of the State of Arizona and the United States of America, I am appalled that the leadership of the US would sue Arizona for attempting to enforce the same laws the federal government has refused to enforce.  But I’m sure the drug cartels are rejoicing.

What do you think?

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