Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pledge to America

I have been intrigued with the Republican Party's "Pledge to America" since it was recently announced. Perhaps I thought, the party that was supposed to represent conservative ideals and a conservative point of view was finally going to release a document supporting actual conservatism. Perhaps instead of the years apologizing for such views or hiding from them, some members of Congress were actually going to in fact stand up for and behind them. 

Unlike many of those both for and against this document, I even went so far as to read it in its entirety. Unfortunately, like most political manifestos (especially those released during an election year) a good part of it was only slightly more interesting than reading the listings in the White Pages of the phone book. 

There was certainly nothing groundbreaking in the document, nor was it a particularly daring stand to take, especially in light of the recent success of the Tea Party movement. There were however, some sound principles worthy of consideration and discussion, even if they were not taken to the point of nauseating detail in specific legislative language. 

What was intriguing to me however, were the reactions to the release of this document by various political ideologies across the country. I found some of the rhetoric on both sides of political thought so interesting in fact, that I thought that I would mention some of the criticism leveled at this document from both sides of the aisle. I submit these impressions for your review:
  • One minute Republicans are being accused of abandoning traditional Republican values, and the next they are being told that they are saying the same old thing they've always said. (Someone must define the difference for me between tradition and the same 'old thing'.)
  • They were told that they are not giving enough detail in the Pledge, but their erstwhile accusers have nothing but nay saying in response to the document. (Would that make them a party of no?)
  • They are told that they have no clear vision of their own basic principles, then accused of stating only stating the position broad strokes without detail. (Perhaps yet more confusion over concepts and terminology...)
  • They are accused of going to far too the right by the left, and not far enough to the right by the right (which seems like a fair compromise and the place that those not given to extremism would like them to be).
  • Republicans are being accused one minute of having nothing to say but "no", and in the next that when they do, what they were saying is wrong and offensive. (maybe they were better off just saying no).
Whether you like the document or not however, it does at the very least provide a basis for discussion in the days running up to a Congressional election, which the other major political party seems to be lacking. Likewise they seem to be willing to run on principles that have been technically espoused by their party for some time (again something their opponents seem unwilling to do)

Whether you agree or disagree it however, The Pledge might provide something for candidates to discuss other than what's wrong with their opponents. Whether you think that they have gone too far or not nearly far enough, at least they have gotten off of the dime and gone somewhere; something that they have been accused of being unable to do. 

The truth of the matter is that as far as I am concerned, they could have saved a lot of potential misrepresentation and misinterpretation (as well as probably a fair number of trees) if they had simply printed a sheet of paper with this line in the introduction: "We pledge to honor the Constitution as constructed by its framers and honor the original intent of those precepts that have consistently ignored - particularly the Tenth Amendment, which grants that all powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." As the Founding Fathers seem to understand, sometimes keeping it simple and stupid is just better ...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Due To Technical Difficulties

We are never more vulnerable these days than when the technology that we use to prop up our everyday existence fails us. Even when the lack of such technology is merely an inconvenience and not of a life sustaining nature, we find ourselves up the proverbial shit creek without a paddle (pardon my technical jargon). Modern man has seemingly in fact become a victim of his own technological success.

Or so it seemed to me over this last week at least, when the desktop computer that I have been relying on for many years both for these often meandering blog posts and for frequently substandard efforts for the Toledo Free Press suffered a rather sudden, catastrophic, and ignominious passing. There is little doubt that the poor beast was tired, aging even more badly than its erstwhile companion. It should likewise be noted that like most technology, it undoubtedly suffered from possession of a much shorter relative life-span than its biologic pal. Much like a favored pet however, it had been a good and faithful companion, always ready to answer the call for both work and play as it suited the needs and whims of its careless master.

There are some no doubt, who will claim that in fact this ever-present ally suffered an untimely end, victim to the second-hand cigar smoke of one who should probably go nameless (owing no doubt, to a tragic and almost shameful level of cowardice on his part). Personally however, I believe that this explanation is anything but the final word on the subject. In fact, I believe that the recently departed enjoyed a good cigar, even if it was capable of experiencing such rapturous experiences only vicariously. 

Since both wine and whiskey were likewise substances potentially lethal and therefore forbidden to it (and hence only available to its more than willing accomplice), I think that the smell of a good cigar was in fact one of its few careful diversions, and well within its sphere of appreciation in spite of the dire warnings issued on potential hazards.

Even now in its passing, we know that there is no true rest for this all too willing participant in the practice of electronic excess: and that rather than proper ceremony (an Irish wake comes to mind) and a decent burial, it will instead be kept on a shelf like a poor relation ... a ghoulish memory and a potential future donor of components for its newer and more stylish replacement. 

And as I write this poor attempt at a eulogy for the poor creature that in the end gave its all in service, I cannot help but wonder which of us was truly the master. How much of what has been produced was a product (and the fault) of the method and how much that of the mover? I wonder as well how much of the technology that we tell ourselves we are served by in fact has in fact taken that very power from us. 

Forget where most of us would be without the computer, the cell phone (especially those of you with smart phones),or the microwave oven; how many of us would now find life all but unimaginable and unbearable without without email, Twitter, or heaven forbid ... without Facebook? How many of us would be able to perform the oh so vital activities that have become far more than mere routines without the crutch of technologies that we really don't understand and could not substitute for. Sure we could all cook over a fire, but not without an electronic igniter to provide the flame for the propane tank fueling the process on a gas grill. Certainly we could all get from place to place without automobiles, but wouldn't we look damned silly with a GPS unit on a bicycle, let alone a belt (and wouldn't some of us be shocked to discover that all bicycles are not stationary and some walking is not done on treadmills). 

Of course we could all communicate, but imagine what written letters would look like today after the mess we have made of the written word with texting. It is in fact, a curious world that we have created for ourselves, and one that I'm not sure that many of us yet know our place in. How much of what we consider the essential part of ourselves is tied to constant electronic connection and instant gratification? How many of us recognize as we use it, that the very technology we are now so dependent upon changes so fast that by the time most of it becomes commonplace, it's already outdated? 

So it is with one good and faithful electronic soul who will not be with us here today, or ever again in the days to come. For though perhaps this colleague might have been brought back to life (with significant technical effort and at considerable cost), in the end it seemed kinder to simply allow the gentle passing of an existence of one whose day had passed (something that I sometimes feel I understand all too well). Alas, where this long-time cohort is concerned, no future appearances will be possible ... Due to technical difficulties.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TFP Column: Term Limit Reconsideration

It has been difficult in recent days to keep up with posting, as I was experiencing more than simple technical difficulties. In fact I my computer has achieved room temperature literally and figuratively.

Not to fear however, for while I have been deficient in my postings over the last week, I did manage to borrow some hardware long enough to scribble yet another column for the Toledo Free Press. This week's offering is a follow up to the most recent piece that I did for the TFP on a Fox News poll speaking to the popularity of Congress as well as the popularity of limiting their service. 

I hope that this follow up answers some of the questions (and criticisms) that I have been receiving.

As always, there is a lot going on the this weekend's edition of the TFP, and in those desiring to be up on all that's going on in Toledo and NW Ohio will be anxious to spend some time with Toledo's largest circulation Sunday newspaper.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Terms of Endearment

As an evil Conservative, I have grown used to being called names over the years, or as Shakespeare would put it, "to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune". With the revitalization of conservatism in the days leading up to the November elections (and the potential of a more conservative Congress this year) however, the pace of such name calling is reaching an almost fevered pitch.

Take your pick of the appellation, recidivist, fascist, sexist, and racist are equally and constanly put forward; each intended to divert attention from a valid point of view by demonizing it (though the implication that all Conservatives are white and male seems rather disingenuous). The hope (if not expectation) of such tactics however is that by using this wildly inaccurate characterization of the practitioners of Conservatism, little or no attention will be paid to what are mostly common sense concepts, and the entire movement can be disregarded. In the rush to such demonization, there is some natural confusion that seems to occur during this process. 

For example, liberal Democrats often confuse the concept of Conservative with Republican; which is natural enough, since historically the "Grand Old Party" stood for conservative fiscal and social principles (which amusingly enough is also known as "classical liberalism"). Recent history however, has shown there are far fewer differences between the actions and agendas of Republicans and Democrats in Congress than there are between those of Conservatives and Liberals. 

These attacks are not about any such attempts at rational discussion or reasoned debate however, but about winning elections. Complex concepts cannot be encapsulated in simple sound bites, and must therefore be recast to do so. The result, as we have all become far to aware of these days, is that like love and war, all's fair in poltical campaigns.

This is not the end of the misrepresentation however. Not being content with assigning a faulty sobriquet, it also appears that insult must be added to injury in the case of conservative thinkers by adding the concept of fear in the psychological sense to the attacks. These wanna-be analysts seem intent in assigning imagined psychoses of Xenophobe, Homophobe, and most recently Islamophobe to the mind of a Conservative. Apparently a lack of agreement in any way or with any part of the beliefs systems espoused by a fringe group of liberals constitutes the rabid fear of the threat of such beliefs. 

In fact however, one could easily make the case that attacks of this nature to show that the actual fear involved is one held by those opposing Conservative thinking (though I suspect that the term "Conservativophobe" would be far too awkward for use in the common parlance). 

Forget that the very concept of Conservative thinking is one that celebrates the rights of the individual, so long as that freedom does not result in an act of aggression against that individual's neighbors. Forget that it is Conservative thinking is that has always championed the rights of the minority against the oppression of the majority. Forget even such thinking has at its heart the freedom of speech and religion that are decried in such attacks. No, seriously, forget all of these things; for certainly those of the supposedly enlightened thinkers in opposition seem to have done so in order to put forth an agenda of behavioral control, government mandate and regulation, and a philosophy based on the concept that if we create enough laws, citizens will find it impossible not to be guilty of violating at least one them and therefore themselves be afraid.

The truth is that realities are always far much more complex than these simple (and simple-minded) designations allow. It is likewise true that there are donkeys that deserve the tails that their critics attempt to pin on them. It should also be noted for the record however, that not all who attempt to call themselves Conservatives actually are. In fact it may be some of these faux Conservatives that deserve the ire of not only the opponents of conservative principles, but of true Conservative thinkers themselves. Their attempts to hijack a very reasoned and principled philosophy may be an even greater insult than the assaults of Conservatism's opponents. 

As for me, I consider these insults little more than "Terms of Endearment" (an expression which has nothing to do with the chick flick of the same name). It's not that I agree with the characterizations, in fact far from it. Nor is it that I concede the validity of their arguments. I simply recognize that by using such tactics in an attempt to deal with true Conservatism, these opponents in fact validate the very ideas that they are attacking. By blatantly belittling the precepts espoused by the Founding Fathers, they in fact provide a special level of legitimacy to those who represent these concepts today.

While I am certainly concerned that political candidates attempting to take on the Conservative mantle will like many before them, shed it quickly once elected; the fact that there are so many are seeking and accepting this mantle is indeed encouraging. The attacks leveled at these candidates and their followers in fact shows a level of fear that I find both hopeful, and strangely appealing. I understand that such desperation may be the final attempt before the November elections to derail such Conservative campaigns. To those attempting it therefore, I say:

"You're standing on the tracks and the trains coming through."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Two Wrongs

My parents often used the expression, "Two wrongs don't make a right" when cautioning me against retaliation (especially after I had been taunted to a point bordering on madness by my older brother or  Irish Twin). In doing so, I expect that they were like many parents before and after them ... including me. It's with that in mind that I contemplate the 9th anniversary of the horrific event that this day will forever mean to those of us in this country. 

While I am, like most Americans, deeply moved in recalling what can only be called the 2nd 'day that will live in infamy'; I am also struck by the failure of this nation to learn from it, and to commit so many 2nd offenses in its name. Pastor Terry Jones and his flock at the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL will not be burning any Qurans to mark the event; having evidently gained enough national press face time in recent days, as well as some well publicized negotiations in New York. However, Fred Phelps and the congregation at the Westboro Baptist Church (already infamous for their protests at soldiers' funerals) has taken up the soiled gauntlet cast down by Rev Jones and is promising a book burning of their own. (Besides, this is a repeat performance for them, having already burned the Quran during a 2008 Washington DC protest.) 

But these churches and their leaders are not the only ones to have forgotten what must have been the lessons of their youth. President Obama has weighed in with well-intentioned criticism of the burning of a holy book, having decided that such protest falls outside the boundaries of good taste and may create a poor impression of this country to Muslims around the world. 

Strange that he should take this step (or misstep) after failing to comment on Westboro's other activity and creating a poor impression of this country, not only to those around the world, but to the parents of soldiers that have died defending it. Strange as well that we should be concerned with whether such exercises of free speech can be used as a recruiting tool for this country's enemies while failing to consider that pandering to people that will hate us no matter what we do (even if it's nothing at all) is likely a tool to the same end. Strange as well that this should come on the heels of a Presidential address on the level of success of this country's efforts at nation-building in the Muslim world (which many consider wrong in and of itself) in both Iraq and Afghanistan; acts which are certainly used by extremist Muslims for recruiting. 

One might also consider it a 'second wrong' for the President to weigh in on the 'Rights' of those building a Muslim center so near to the sight of the the 9/11 attack, after some of those with similar beliefs seek to build this center committed the first wrong by such an attempt in the first place. One might further consider the wrongs committed when Pastor Jones announced that he called off his book burning because he had negotiated the moving of this Muslim center, only to have it announced by the Imam Muhammad Musri that no such accord existed; and have Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (who is one of many who seem to be in charge of this project) likewise repudiating that such an agreement exits. (No wait, that's 3 wrongs...) 

While we're at it we might also take note that while 9/11 is of itself a horrific event, some of the freedoms and liberties that we have sacrificed for the sake of a supposed increase in national security must certainly qualify as a 2nd wrong that does little more than add insult to this national injury. Blindly accepting the continuance of the Patriot Act and its restrictions, living with increased government surveillance, and increasingly onerous airport screening that only provides job security to TSA agents should certainly be viewed as ongoing series of 2nd wrongs ... and the abridgment of the covenant in this country between the citizens and government promised by the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution. 

The most grievous potential offense however, yet awaits. In the media madness surrounding the building of this center and the attention being paid to the circling carrion feeders currently in the spotlight, we might lose sight of the sacrifices made on this day. In our haste to grant attention to these media vultures, we might somehow forget the sacrifice of 2,977 innocent people that we remember and mourn. We could forget the two landmarks of Manhattan (as well as other buildings) that were destroyed, the damage done to the Pentagon, or the scarred earth near Shanksville, PA where Flight 93 went down. 

So while it appears that so many around us are ready to commit another foolish wrong in a an attempt that should be considered both misguided and doomed to make a right, let us choose instead to set all of this nonsense aside and remember the true meaning of the day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

TFP Column: Limited Liability

After taking a week off (I'm a slacker, I know), I have once again been favored to have a piece of my work placed in the Toledo Free Press this week. After reading over a recent Fox News story and looking over the polling numbers that they used to back it up, I couldn't help but be struck by the fact that the current crop of elected representatives was becoming a real liability to the health of the nation. 

This in turn cause me to wonder if the reaction of the voters in the poll might therefore be a clarion call to purchase "Limited Liability" insurance. My hope is that even if you don't agree with the conclusions, you will at least consider upping your coverage. 

As usual however, there are much better pieces in Toledo's largest circulation Sunday newspaper, including a particularly good piece by its Editor-in-Chief, Michael Miller. At a time when United Way campaigns are kicking off all around the country, his first hand look at the work being done by this group and the effect that it can have on people's lives is well worth paying attention to. 

So take a little time this weekend and catch up on everything that's going on in Toledo and NW Ohio ... I know I will.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Face Time

Recent sales training that I'm doing has brought to mind many of the things that I have learned about the subject over a long career in the field (though contrary to popular belief, it is not true that I sold lumber to Noah). I was reminded that much of the sales being done these days is in fact consultive sales; which strangely enough entails not selling anything at all to a potential customer, but instead seeking to remove the impediments that keep them from making a purchase that they should. 

Even if the final result is not possible however, the relationship building process that occurs in the sales process is a valuable one which can lead to future benefits for both parties. The only way to succeed in such an effort is by getting face time with the customer. In fact, there is nothing more important to success than such face time. In this day and age and with all of the available means of communication however, this does not necessarily mean being face to face with that potential customer (though that is certainly the preferred method), but also in finding any opportunity to exchange ideas. In order for the process to take its course one must build a rapport with a customer, discover that customer's needs, and attempt to find a way to help that customer fulfill them (hopefully, but not always, with the product or service that you are getting paid to sell) by showing them the benefits that you can offer and their value to the prospective customer.  

Once upon a time, political candidates likewise understood this. They took every opportunity to get face time with their constituents. Whether it was shaking hands at a local event, giving stump speeches at 'rubber chicken dinners' (rubber chickens having less chance of passing on salmonella), or most especially at candidate debate opportunities. These latter not only provided the chance to showcase the candidates views and opinions, but did so in such a way so as to allow them to distinguish themselves from their opponents. 

It worked for John Kennedy over a more experienced Richard Nixon. It worked for Ronald Reagan over both incumbent Jimmy Carter and challenger Walter Mondale. It worked for Bill Clinton over the senior George Bush. In fact, study and prep for debates became one of the most important parts of running a political campaign for many years. It mostly seems however, that such is no longer the case. 

Candidates sometimes seem reticent to appear in public, lest an irreverent constituent or inconvenient question rear its ugly head. (Can you say "Joe the Plummer"?) They seem to desire to avoid anything other than carefully scripted events with restricted guest lists, lest it backfire and show up on You Tube. They certainly seek to control anything and everything said by and about them, lest a stray soundbite derail their carefully crafted campaign efforts. (Can you say, "Boo Ben Konop"?) Campaigns today seem to have become all about Facebook sites and and media buys; all carefully crafted to give out the required message of the campaigns ... but even with all of this control, they seem to get it wrong. 

When did the message stop being "I believe as you do" and start becoming "My opponent does not believe as you do"? When did it become more important for a candidate to frame their opponents message rather than their own in the first place? When was the last time that you saw a political commercial on TV that did not show the opponent of the candidate as much, if not more, than the one paying for it? How can any candidate expect to win when the only face a voter remembers is that of the opponent they paid to show them? 

Techniques have come and gone over the years and many different practices have fallen in and out of favor, but two things always seem to hold true: 
1. Mention the competition as seldom as possible (and not at all if possible) to keep from drawing attention to them. 
2. Maximize you face time with the customer. 

If politicians would like to understand why it is that they are suffering from such a general lack of popularity these days, perhaps the failure to follow these two simple rules might have something to do with it. If politicians seem somehow to fail to get their message out, in spite of all of the media available to them, perhaps it's because they have lost sight of the simplicity of these rules. 

If good people fail to get elected when they should, perhaps it is not a failure of funding (though money seems to be the greatest concern of both those running and those seeking to control elections these days), but a simple failure to maximize the available face time with their constituencies in the days running up to an election.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Conflict

I had been putting forth considerable effort in the last week in training for a new career, so I was more than little grateful yesterday with the realization that there would be a three day weekend to recharge my batteries. (I was also feeling a little smug over the timing of this mini vacation, in spite of the fact that I had little or nothing to do with it.) 

Recognizing that 'there is no such thing as a free lunch' however, I could not help but realize that there would invariably be a price to pay for the fortunate circumstance of my first paid work holiday. The bill didn't take long to show up. You see, the joy of this short furlough from my labors made me curious as to their cause (and curiosity is normally a dangerous thing)

As with I am sure many of you out there, I had long taken the concept of a "Labor Day" weekend for granted. As kids, Labor Day traditionally marked the end of summer vacation and the beginning of school. While schools around the country can now begin a little earlier or later depending on the vagaries of state attendance requirements (and since most of those in government education camps are no longer required to work the harvest with their parents), the necessity of reducing the costs of climate control for their buildings, and the prognostications of weather guessers as to how many bad weather days will be required during the school year; most openings still closely mirror in some way this three day weekend. 

It is also the traditional weekend for the closing of outdoor swimming pools in much of the country, in spite of the fact that often there is still plenty of warm weather to follow. Like the opening of school, this was a heartfelt tragedy of youth for many of us, as swimming pools were both a source of entertainment and a summer refuge for many us. As we grew older, these sites even became educational; as we gradually began to recognize the necessity social networking (though we just called it 'hanging out with our friends' at the time) and the increasing hormonal challenges that were eventually presented by a burgeoning maturity. I had never bothered then, nor do I recollect ever being taught at the time, what it was that the actual holiday symbolized. 

Having opened this Pandora's Box however, I was now bound to perform the research (and write about it). Now according to the definitive (but sometimes questionable) source Wikipedia, Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894, with legislation rushed through Congress a mere six days after the ending of the Pullman Strike (back when Congress didn't rush most of the legislation that it writes through)

The idea apparently was to create a holiday as a peace offering to labor unions that had suffered mistreatment and death at the hands of the military and US Marshalls during this strike. The September date was chosen apparently, in order to prevent potential confusion with the May Day (or International Workers Day) celebrations; which not only carried overt Communist connotations, but carried the additional baggage of commemorating the violence that erupted during yet another labor strike and demonstration, the Haymarket Affair of 1886. 

The bottom line here apparently, is that the holiday that we are all currently enjoying was manufactured by the federal government as a way of distancing itself from the abuse that it had committed in the name of, and as a small punishment to the 'big business' interests that it far too often finds itself under the thumb of. It was likewise seen as a sop to the labor movement in this country that it alternately and frequently finds itself in the same position with. (This is the kind of distasteful and tainted process that makes Hallmark's avaricious efforts at holiday creation seem almost saintly by comparison.) 

Now I have made no secret of my opinions of the labor movement in the past, but one cannot help but concede at least a modicum of sympathy to union labor in this case. While I am sure that not all of the actions perpetrated by striking workers were laudable and that a close examination of the facts at the time would find plenty of fodder for recriminations on both sides, one cannot help but be sympathetic (and even to admire) those willing to be injured or even killed while standing up for their beliefs and what they felt were their rights. 

Much like the contention from which it was born, I cannot help but feel conflicting emotions as I enjoy the rest and respite provided as a result of this Labor Day holiday. While certainly appreciative of the short breather provided by this holiday, I am disdainful of the concept of celebrating organized labor at a time when we force two of what are considered this country's most famous presidents to share a holiday. While I am more than willing to accept the temporary ease provided to write this piece, I must admit to feelings of remorse at its source. 

Perhaps I should instead acknowledge the guilty pleasure of an unasked for gift from the hands of my oft-stated enemy, accept it as a form of absolution for the embarrassed confession that I make here, and simply enjoy what promises to be a gorgeous weekend here in the Kansas City area. Then again, that might be doing too much work ...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

An Ethical Dilemma

While I did not attend, like many other people in this country (and perhaps around the world) I watched a good bit of the C-Span coverage of the Glenn Beck "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington DC. I was curious about a number of things having to do with this gathering and hoped that such coverage would provide answers. 

In most cases it did. I wondered if the crowd would be as big as I expected it to be, and I think that it was (despite the disparate counts reported). I wondered if those attending would honor Mr Beck's wishes to refrain from bringing signs and attempting to make this a political event, and they did. I wondered if those attending the competing events held by Mr Beck and the Rev Al Sharpton could avoid less than exemplary behavior , and they did. I wondered if this crowd would, as requested, leave the site better than they found it, and they did. I wondered if the speeches would both touching and inspiring; and for the most part I think that they were, though some of those with the podium could have used the services of a good speech writer (sorry, but the the writer in me can't help but nitpick)

I found myself later with my thoughts drifting however, and found a question nagging at me in the days since that had not, and seemingly could not be answered simply, either then or now. 

Why is it that the clarion call to return to the principles of the Founding Fathers could not be sounded without religious overtones? 

Don't get me wrong, I understand that those Founding Fathers called upon the Divine Spirit in creating both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I understand that Divine Providence was often credited for the language used by these incredible men as they explained their thinking and was used to justify their motives and the success of their objectives. I will even grant that the fundamental principles of this country were laid upon a foundation of the Judeo-Christian ethic (though some of the Fathers considered themselves Deists rather than Christians)

It is this last word however (ethic), that remained a sticking point for me. You see, while I consider myself a spiritual person and one who believes in a higher power, I fail to understand why this Deity must be called on in order for a man to show proper moral character and behavior amongst his fellows. Why is it not enough to do good, to yourself and to others, for good's own sake? Why are not self-sufficiency on one hand and charity to ones fellows on the other not valuable in and of themselves, without calling on the forces of heaven for guidance, regulation, and oversight? 

Forgive me Father (in the spiritual sense, of course), but requiring such behavior only as homage or obedience to a Supreme Being is making the very cop out that of principles that we are hoping to escape by the return of such thinking. These principles should not be adhered to out of a desire to worship, nor should this moral code be enforced out of a fear of Divine Retribution; but in fact should be embraced as the core of the very humanity that we possess. 

The concept of adherence to this morality because "Father is watching" is the kind of thinking that leads to the justification of red-light cameras and Patriot Act surveillance. Freedom cannot come in blind obedience, nor can truly good behavior be elicited under threat of punishment. 

I believe that men of good conscience must step forward to lead the way, and that this rally was a good faith attempt to do so. (A curious choice of words, don't you agree?) I applaud the spirit of Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally last weekend, and likewise applaud the example that was shown by the many gathered in attendance. I remain troubled however by this rally's apparent requirement of Divine guidance to elicit something that should by definition be part of the human condition; and therefore remain caught up in the midst of an ethical dilemma.