Readers to my blog will know I enjoy Glenn Beck. I know he can be a bit crazy but I agree with a lot of what he says. I don’t have time to write much today but I love this new “refounding” message he is talking about. The idea is our country can have a rebirth by reaching back to the principles and values of the founding. Beck is offering anonymous truth-telling with the hope of finding 56 people (the number of the original founders) that are willing to weed out excess and corruption. He talks about atonement and that we can get off the disastorous track we are on both financialy and morally. I will write more later but I was moved by Beck’s message. I love my country, and I want it to be back to the values we started with. My worry is that Beck won’t be able to find the 56 people in Congress willing to stand up. More and more it seems politicians are finding ways to stretch half-truths or outright lies to the American public. We’ve even reached a point where Governor’s can run off to Argentina without telling anyone and not get punished, where news shows have to air fact-checking, “keeping them honest” sessions after the President’s speeches, and where the Christian principles this country was founded on are treated with disdain and contempt. Before we know it the family is going to be watered down to nothing, our freedoms will be curtailed and there won’t be anybody to trust leading our nation. It’s sad that we turn tea partiers into extremists, town-hall visitors into non-patriots and brave soldiers into potential terrorists. I hope beyond hope that Beck is right. I pray for it every night. I will be curious for your thoughts. Will write more later.
My friends, you are reading the blog of a right-wing extremist. At least that is what the media would have you believe. On April 15th I proudly attended a tea party held in Provo, Utah. Along with 700-1,000 concerned citizens I gathered in the cold snowy weather to protest for the first time in my life. As I have mentioned many times on this blog- I am not a die-hard Republican. In fact, I have realized lately that I lean more Libertarian than any other party; however, I do not define myself by a party. I define myself by my core values of faith, charity, integrity, hard work, and liberty. I have a deep patriotic vein within me, and I feel the United States of America is a sacred land. I believe it was founded by men inspired by God as a sanctuary for freedom.
What does freedom mean? I don’t know what it means to you, and I could go on a mini-rampage about the various theories, but I will spare you. I can tell you what freedom means to me.
One of my favorite books is called Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl by Harriet Jacobs or Linda Brent. In this stirring narrative Harriet Jacobs tells her story of fighting for freedom. Even as a little girl Harriet Jacobs refuses to concede the idea she is a slave- that she is property. Despite terrible trials she keeps the pursuit of freedom as an unending goal. Eventually she ends up hiding from her owner in a garret under her grandmother’s porch for 7 years- watching her children grow up, unable to mother them or help in any way. Why does she do it? Because she believes that freedom is worth the price. Of course, such a price should not be required of anyone, but it proves the point that freedom is a precious gift from God- worthy of sacrifice.
Harriet Jacobs wanted the chance to pursue happiness- to create her own life. That is what she and many others fought for. One of most famous phrases from the Declaration of Independence is:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
To me this phrase means that we are born equal and with the same potential for greatness- the same potential to pursue happiness. This is something Harriet legally did not have but she created it anyway. The triumph of her character would not be stifled. Just imagine what she could have done without the grasp of slavery trying to throw her down. Amazing. In many ways our current President, Barrack Obama, is proof that the potential for greatness is available for any American. He is the son of single mother who grew up in Hawaii. Of course, he is also the first African American president. Nothing stopped him from becoming a success.
So, back to my extremist activities. I believe this country is great. I want to keep it great. I want to be able to pursue happiness- to be free to own a business, raise a family, or live singly and happy. It is my opinion that the current over-spending in Washington is removing some of that ability from my life. They want to burden me with debt, regulation and my neighbors mortgage- something I resent as I have sacrificed to be debt-free. I feel strongly that 12.8 trillion dollars in debt (caused by both parties!) is drowning our country’s future. My sweet nieces will not be able to pursue happiness the way I have and certainly not the way the founders intended.
We have become a country that has twisted the Constitutional idea of equal creation with equal outcomes. Perhaps part of this is a result of the unequal beginnings groups such as African Americans, women, and other minorities clearly had. For years they had an unequal opportunity to succeed; therefore, the outcome was inherently unfair. Government intervention in such a situation is appropriate and fair. Today’s situation is mostly different (and where it isn’t intervention is still appropriate). For the most part, equal opportunities exist for all but naturally so do unequal outcomes. This is part of life in a free society. The government has decided to step in and create equal outcomes, which is not only costly but it strips freedom from citizens under the guise of equality. Because we are unwilling to see people (and yes big corporations) fail we are piling on more debt each second. We forget that part of freedom is the potential for unhappiness too.
It is my belief in freedom that pushed me to attend my first government protest- coined a “tea party” by the organizers. The tea party refers to the Boston Tea Party of the Revolutionary War, where angry citizens dumped tea in the Boston harbor because of the unfair tax Britain was imposing. This was a violent act perpetrated by men who were angry at having their freedom to chose taken. They were angry at being forced to pay for programs and a government they didn’t want or believe in. They felt their voice was marginalized and ignored.
In this modern movement the protesters ALSO FEEL MARGINALIZED AND IGNORED BY BOTH PARTIES. Instead of doing something violent, however, these men and women including myself peacefully gathered. I was proud to be there. I was proud to be waving my sign, and I will never forget the moment of connection I felt with my country. It was a great moment.
On a lighter note, it was also a lot of fun. I brought my sign and a couple of boxes of warmers and made friends with the crowd. I even got a few hugs! My friend Bethany Maddox and her family were there and we cheered together. It was interesting that even in Republican Provo, UT there were democrats in the audience waving signs. This is about anti-spending, not anti-Obama, or anti-Democrat. It is about pursuing happiness which according to some very wise men is my “unalienable right”. These were not weirdos or extremist as the media would have you believe. It was men and women who want small government, want less taxes and believe both parties have let them down. This is how I feel and I will do whatever I can to continue in this cause- even if it means running for local office down the road. It is like they said at my rally as they announced “This is the end” someone said “No, this is the beginning”. That is how I feel, so I guess this extremist is going to keep on being extreme until I see a difference. I am going to do my part that’s for sure.
Jason Chaffetz (who I just love) spoke at my event and here is some video I took of what he said. (sorry you can’t see him and the camera is shaky but you will get the idea).
Here is Jason again. I agree with what he is saying. He is the kind of representative I believe in.
The tea party was wonderful!! I encourage all to take part in anyway you can.
OK. I promise this will be my last political post for a while. So just skip it if you don’t like those posts.
Today I heard about a report made by the Missouri Information Analysis Center. In this report they study the dangers of the “Modern Militia Movement“. Now this is not just an analysis of radical groups such as those that follow the Turner diaries. This is a study of anyone who forms a group to protest the government. The study even includes those who read Tom Clancy novels and watch the movie Rambo. The report says such things have “glorified white males and portrayed them as morally upright heroes who were mentally and physically tough”. Given this definition I suppose Jack Bauer would be a terrorist and the 12.92 million viewers as suspects! For goodness sakes Tom Clancy has sold 55 million books. That’s a lot of people to be tracking, a lot of potential terrorists.
Now there are certainly groups in the United States that are worthy of observance; however, this report focuses its attention on “right wing extremest and militia leaders”. I contend that left wing extremists such as the wack jobs at PETA could be equally dangerous. With all the surveillance the study could only find 6 examples since September 11th of potential threats caused by right wing militia groups. Most, if not all, were instigated by individual members- not the group itself. Fortunately such attempts were thwarted and no damage or deaths occurred.
The report goes on to point its finger at Libertarians and “third party groups” such as the “Constitutional Party, Campaign for Liberty or Libertarian Party. These members are usually supporters of former Presidential Candidate: Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr.” The report actually names these three candidates as being the source of “anti-government propaganda”. Since when was having an opinion considered propaganda? Plus, isn’t the whole point of free speech the right to speak out against your government? I believe it is- and that is true for both sides the right and the left. As long as we are obeying the law and are not conspiring to do harm to others we have the right to assemble and believe whatever we want to believe.
As far as Ron Paul goes- I want to stick up for him a little. I was impressed with what he said during the election and out of the candidates I actually agreed with him the most. I am proud to have voted for him in the Primary election. I certainly agreed more with him on the economy and on the war in Iraq than I did with either President Obama or John McCain. Here are Mr. Paul’s main positions and you see if it sounds like a terrorist or just someone who cares about our country?:
Ron Paul talking points (as taken from his website)
On the economy he supports an ending to the congressional pay raise through 2010.
He does not support deficit spending and entitlement programs.
He believes “economic freedom is based on a simple rule: everyone has the right to his or her life and property”
He thinks the bailout are unwise, unfair and will eventually make the economy more sluggish.
On foreign policy he believes:
We need to stop policing the world. He hates preemptive war and interventionist war
We need to bring the troops home from the 700 bases in 100 countries.
We need to protect our borders
On civil liberties he believes:
Economic freedom means economic activity should be free and voluntary and “that government shoudl stay out of personal affairs…and out of our wallets”
Government should protect our right to privacy and to bear arms.
Family should be the instructor of moral character not the government.
Those are just a few of his positions. Now really does this seem like a domestic terrorist to you? Do these positions really seem so out-of-wack? I actually agree with most of his positions and there is nothing but full patriotic blood running within me. I love my country more than almost anything else. Like Mr. Paul, I feel we are going down the wrong track and it scares me. It scares me enough to speak out in anyway I can, but I don’t want to be grouped as some potential terrorist. It’s just nuts!
Whether you agree with his ideas or not, I hope you can see that violating his right to say such things hurts everyone. Policing and analyzing such behavior, looking for unpatriotic holes, only ostracizes the legitimate followers of Mr. Paul and makes the radical nuts more radical. Part of being a democracy is the right to speak our minds- even if it is crazy! The government certainly has the right to monitor such individuals. However, let’s hope in the future they spend their money on the people that could be truly dangerous- not on those they may disagree with or find annoying.
Some may argue that such policing is the result of the Patriot Act, and there may be some truth to that claim. This is the danger in such acts. My main argument here is not on the legitimacy of such surveillance but its intended targets. The government has the right to watch Ron Paul and his fans but is it necessary or pertinent?
Certainly if Ron Paul is the standard of suspect than Bill Maher, Rush Limbagh, Sean Hannity, Al Franken, Oprah Winfrey, Bill O’Reilley, Reverend Wright, and others must also be under constant surveillance for statements they have made. Who knows I could be under surveillance for the posts I did on this blog, which I feel are consistently well thought-out and patriotic. The fact is that me and all of these people have a right to say what they wish, and that’s what makes America great. In China people are limited to what feelings they can express against the government partly because they are monitored on a daily basis. America is better than that- it should be better than that!
Let’s also remember that most of the great movements of change in this country were started by charismatic individuals who fought the status quo. The Women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and even the beginnings of this democracy were all started by radicals who pushed for change. I wouldn’t even put Mr. Paul in such a revolutionary category but this report treats him as a near-fascist instigator.
So to Ron Paul, Tom Clancy, and yes even Sylvester Stallone keep doing what you do. To the government- stop wasting our time and money and get things done!
Here’s an interview with Mr. Paul that I wished we had listened to last year. It makes a lot of sense to me.
I also thought this interview with Penn Gillette was good. By the way, he is no conservative that’s for sure. Glenn Beck also explains in this clip the Missouri Report.
In my last post I mentioned how inspired I felt by Glenn Beck’s new 9/12 initiative. Normally my posts are viewed by a handful of family and friends (15-35 visits a day). Both of the political posts I did caused huge upswings in visits- especially my last post. I was shocked to have nearly 500 visits in the last 3 days! That post also had a record 11 comments. It was great!
Clearly this discussion has touched a nerve with people and it caused me to wonder why?I asked the same question during the Democratic primaries- why was the country more interested in a community activist from Chicago than the slick experienced Clinton machine? I believe the election of President Obama, and to a smaller extent the initial response to the 9/12 project, shows the desire of the American people to connect with a cause- to be gathered together for a greater good.
This is an interesting trend because for years America appeared to be in the opposite direction. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s individulaism grew along with a new sense of self-suficiency. Without a major war or conflict to gather citizens, group behavior declined- particularly political action. Such involvement became more of a hobby, rather than a necessity.
These trends are demonstrated in two of my favorite non-fiction books: The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg and Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. They are both excellent reads with eye-opening ideas.
In the Great Good Place Oldenberg says that every human being needs three places: the home, work, and the third place. The third place is the focus of the book because in it “neutral ground provides the place, and leveling sets the stage for the cardinal and sustaining activity of third places everywhere. That activity is conversation. Nothing more clearly indicates the third place than that the talk is good.” Examples of third places include bars, pubs, coffee houses, bookstores, cafes, parks and even lobbies. While these places may seem superficial and unnecessary, Oldenburg argues that they provide “precious and unique benefit” to those who frequent them including “the leveling primacy of conversation, certainty of meeting friends, looseness of structure, and eternal reign of the imp of fun all combine to set the stage for experiences unlikely to be found elsewhere. These benefits also derive from the sociable and conversational skills cultivated and exercised within the third place”. Basically the third place provides attendees an unpredictable and free environment of sharing that you just can’t get at work or in the home.
Having established the value of the third place Oldenburg goes on to explain their decline with the rise of suburbia. Actually it’s not so much a decline, as it is a replacement with mediocre substitutes. The carefully planned and placed Starbucks, Borders, and Chilis of the world attempt to create community but feel pretty lame in comparison with their traditional counterparts. I should know because I live in Utah- the home of chain everything. Especially in Utah County, it is hard to find any unique restaurants or stores- and if they aren’t chains then they are rapidly becoming one.
The best community involvement I seem to be able to do is sign up for a class at JoAnn Fabrics or look for a book club on Craigslist. There is almost nowhere I can go by myself to just hangout. The movies is the best I can come up with but still that’s kind of lame. The problem of not having a third place is that you end up either alone or surrounded by people who only think like you do. You never feel a real sense of belonging or sacrifice for the group. Oldenburg says “The effect of the third place is to raise participants spirits and it is an effect that never totally fades. Third place interaction is a matter of ‘making other people’s day’ even as they make one’s own in a situation where everyone gains.” As you interact together the patrons of the third place also get to see one another in a positive, happy light, instead of the grim view often found at work or are in other interactions together. Think about it if you had shared a Coke with a new friend- would you feel as inclined blow up at them if they cut you off in traffic? No. We have lost both a sense of authentic community and an outlet for free expression in our country, and I think it has consequences. For one, President Obama’s election (for better or worse) was certainly helped by the underlying need for community activism that he successfully tapped into.
In Bowling Alone, a similar vein of thought is followed. Instead of third places Putnam follows the registration numbers of civic organizations, clubs, and bowling leagues. Groups such as the Lions Club, Masons, Elks Lodge, League of Women Voters, etc have all seen declining memberships since the 50’s when they peaked. Putnam says the old members didn’t drop out “but community organizations were no longer continuously revitalized as they had been in the pst, by freshets of new members”. Even membership in the PTA has gone down every year since the 1960’s. This may seem like a meaningless statistic but it has many ramifications. For instance, the philanthropy encouraged by such organizations declines. “Altruism of all sorts is encouraged by social and community involvement. Churchgoing and clubgoing, for example are among the strongest predictors of giving blood…To predict whether I am likely to give time, money, blood, or even a minor favor, you need to know, above all how active I am in community life and how strong my ties to family, friends and neighbors are”.
The isolation that Putnam talks about has gotten so bad that most of us do not know our neighbors or have even introduced ourselves (myself included). We click the garage door and then are shut away in our little world. We then gather only with people that we have similar tastes with (which brings up another good book I just finished- The Big Sort by Bill Bishop but that’s for another entry). Even on the internet we communicate in social networking sites such as Facebook only with like minded friends who we agree to come into our lives. In the old civic organizations, clubs and churches a variety of people could participate and find common ground. In addition, people that in previous generations would have been included in community discussion- even begrudgingly- are now left alone (unless they are able to find other nerds to hang out with!). Instead of uniting our country, we keep dividing and dividing. Its no wonder the politicians in Washington are so diametrically opposed to each other’s policy. They have been living in a society where they are surrounded only by like-minded individuals and rarely have to branch out. When the founding father’s met they were able to find livable compromises within a diverse group of people. Perhaps this was partly due to the spirit of community they had been raised in? Perhaps if they had been isolated and only fed political dogma from one side, the compromises would not have happened and our country would not exist?
Who’s to know! Both authors have forced me to look at the world I live in differently. Maybe it is because I have lived on the east coast, west coast, Midwest and in Utah, but I pride myself in being open minded. In listening to every side of an argument and trying to find common ground. This seems to be a lost art and part of the blame goes to the loss of the third place and the community spirit. People like President Obama and Glenn Beck (to a smaller extent!) have tapped into this fundamental need and are allowing citizens to speak their peace- or at least giving them that feeling. It is a shame such attempts at community activism are not more diverse in opinions and ideas but they are a step in the right direction. Hopefully we will learn and find ways to expand our reach within the community. I know the few attempts I’ve made have benefited my life. I have a goal to do at least one act of community service a month. Plus, I also look for ways to reach out to new friends. I go to book clubs where I don’t know anyone, cake decorating classes, and even cruises! I am better person because of such endeavors and I challenge each of you to do the same! Also, read those books. I hope I explained their ideas in ways that make sense. They are great!
Before reading this post- if you get annoyed at political discussion stop reading now. This is just my opinion. I simply found something that motivated me to be a better person, and I wanted to share it with all of you. Take it or leave it!
Everyone knows I love politics. I enjoy hearing different opinions and arguments on all sides. I have always liked the passion behind a good debate. I am not sure why- just have. If the opportunity presents itself I would love to someday be a public servant in some small way. This would not be for my personal glory but to serve my country and support the values I believe in. Why does the idea of public service seem to be lost on our society? The early founders were practically forced into service and now the career path of a politician often feels like the journey of a Hollywood celebrity.
I think both parties are equally guilty of this game, which is why neither seems to care what public opinion currently thinks. For instance, nobody cares that the public has resoundingly opposed the stimulus package- from November on this has consistently been the case. A recent poll said the support for the package was below 37%. Another sign of discontent is that President Obama’s poll numbers have fallen dramatically in the first 100 days and they are now below President Bush’s at the same time in his presidency. Despite such disapproval nobody in Washington is listening. In fact, many of the politicians seem to think the American public is not educated enough to understand such tough economic conditions. If that is the case than your job as politicians is to educate us!
The problem is many in Washington not only think we are too stupid to understand what they are doing to our economy, but they think we do not care. In my last entry on the stimulus package I posted a video with Senator Charles Shumer. In it he calls the American people “the chattering masses” and says “the American people don’t care”. I found this statement shocking in its candor and disgusting in its implications. And remember this is not some no-name senator. It is the 3rd ranking democrat in the senate. My fear is that he was stupid enough to say what all the Senators and Congressional Representatives feel. They think we don’t care.
What if they are right? There are certainly a lot of people who don’t care enough to vote. The ones that do, rarely take the time to be informed on issues- even though such efforts only take a minute or two. It has always boggled my mind! Do they not understand issues like the stimulus bill effect our lives? They effect ALL of our jobs, investments, property, families and certainly our education.
I am not saying that everyone has to agree with me but CARE! If anything was gained by the election of President Obama it proved that American’s could get excited about a candidate and politics. For several months people watched debates instead of sitcoms and commented on interesting issues. Although I did not vote for President Obama, I felt the excitement of a candidate of change. Now I wonder- what has he changed? Not much. What promises has he kept? Not many. To name one failed promise, he swore time and again on the trail to stop earmarks in bills. Now the spending bill he signed has over 9,000 of them! 9,000! With the President’s current popularity I do not buy his excuse of needing to sign an “imperfect bill”. He had the political capital to at least reduce the earmarks and he failed to do so. I will also add that 40% of these earmarks came from Republicans, so they are equally guilty in ignoring what America wants. In fact, the Republicans are trying to make the Democrats seem like the bad guys while still sneaking in whatever spending of their own they can get in.
I am not writing this to bash President Obama or any other politician. I have hope for them all. Perhaps foolishly, I believe most of them are good men and woman with the right intentions; however, many have forgotten who they work for, and what we as Americans stand for. They have gotten so caught up in money- that it has become a type of panacea for every wound. Just throw more money at a problem and it will all be made better! Selfishness, greed and a loss of vision is leading us into debts both morally and financially. In a sea of money and political correctness, these politicians seem to have forgotten the fundamental values of honor, freedom, integrity, faith, justice and hard work that our government is there to support.
To be honest, this spending bill was making me depressed. I felt like no one was listening to me and millions of other Americans who find it crazy and irresponsible. Even the socialist nations of France and Germany are refusing to go along with the big spending! Now China has expressed worry that the $1 trillion in US treasury bonds they own is a bad investment. The Chinese, the French, the Germans, the majority of Americans all seem to think this is a bad idea! Why doesn’t anyone care?
Well, I found someone who does. I am not usually a talk radio/ tv news person. I love NPR and feel I am an Independent on most issues. However, I happened to catch the latest Glenn Beck Show on Fox News, and was very inspired with what I saw. I have heard Beck speak and been impressed in the past but this was something special. In the program he talks about his feelings after 9/11 (thus calling it the 9/12 project) and then contrasts with his current feelings. He talks about how no one is listening and how nobody in either party can be trusted. He asks every American who still believes in this country to send in their photos- he gets millions. He interviews Iraq veterans, 9/11 victim families and gives 9 principles and 12 values that exemplify the American spirit. I agree with every one of his 9 principles and 12 values. If I worked for a year to summarize my own values and principles in regards to this country they would end up the same as Beck’s. I love that he isn’t afraid to declare his belief in God, family, and America!
He actually gets emotional at several points, and I found the whole thing very moving. He tells us to remember how we felt on 9/12, and how we just knew what to do, and how we could help. Those feelings came out of our core beliefs and values. It is these values that will save America- not spending more on lavish programs or shopping to boost consumer confidence. Real confidence comes from an understanding of why we matter- why each of us matters to this country and to God. I can’t recommend the program highly enough. During the broadcast there were crowds all over the country watching and cheering. I wanted to cheer too! Put it on your DVR this weekend or watch it online if you can. It’s not just a political rant. It’s a reminder of what is good about America, and I felt validated by it.
Beck is a member of my church, so perhaps he presents his program in a way I understand. However, this basic message of integrity, service, friendship and courage is one any American can relate too. I promise it is not a partisan attack. Check it out!
The Nine Principles
1. America is good.
2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.
3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.
4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.
5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.
6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.
7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.
8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.
9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.