Monday, February 15, 2010

Forget Presidents' Day - Time to Renew Washington's Birthday

Although today is the federal holiday of Washington's Birthday, in reality it is all but ignored.  Our popular culture has transfigured it into "Presidents' Day."  We now celebrate Washington with the same vigor as Benjamin Harrison and Franklin Pierce.  Today it is an empty excuse for thrilling sales on carpets, appliances, and cars.

Washington was really THE indispensable man to the success of the American Revolution and the adoption of the Constitution.  We need to acknowledge his many accomplishments by putting a stake into the heart of Presidents' Day and reviving Washington's Birthday.

Better yet, we should work on celebrating all our Founding Fathers and great Patriots via Patriot Week.  Co-created by myself and my daughter, Patriot Week renews America's spirit by celebrating the First Principles, Founding Fathers and other Patriots, vital documents and speeches, and flags that make America the greatest nation in world history.

Anchored by the key dates of September 11 and September 17 (the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution), each day has a separate focus.  In the Inaugural year of 2009, over participants were involved (schools, media, universities, nonprofits), and we expect 2010 to much bigger.

Please join the effort by visiting

Saturday, February 13, 2010

America, What Can Be Imagined Can Be Achieved

I just finished watching an Episode of the X Files ("Max" from Season 4), which closed with this bit of cogent truth from Dana Scully:

"There are extraordinary men and women and extraordinary moments when history leaps forward on the backs of these individuals... that what can be imagined can be achieved... that you must dare to dream... but that there's no substitute for perseverance and hard work... and teamwork... because no one gets there alone... and that, while we commemorate the... the greatness of these events and the individuals who achieve them, we cannot forget the sacrifice of those who make these achievements and leaps possible."

Although this quote is from a Canadian science fiction show, it very much captures something that makes America very unique - our combined spirits of imagination and hard work.  Americans are not idle philosophers - we not only imagine what should be, we act very hard to make it happen.

Indeed, our nation was founded by Founding Fathers who combated against terrible odds and made enormous sacrifices to create a government of what should be.  They turned the world topsy-turvy by establishing the only government in history founded on our First Principles of the rule of law, equality, unalienable rights, the Social Compact, and limited government.

Today it seems that too many are willing to dream, but not to do.  Or rather, to complain, but not sacrifice.  America has large challenges before us, but we can certainly meet those challenges.  Dana Scully has reminded us of the way.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Iran - Time to Change an Oppressive Regime

Today marks the anniversary of the collapse of the old regime in Iran and the triumph of the Iranian Revolution.  Prior to the revolution, Iran had been ruled by the military fist of the Shah.  Beginning in 1978, a mass movement drove the Shah out of power and the country, leading to the rise of an Islamic Republic in 1979 - which still stands today.

There is no question that the Shah embodied a corrupt, dictatorial regime and should have been driven by power – but this is one of those cases where the cure is worse than the illness (or, stated another way, be careful for what you ask for).

Iran is now ruled by a corrupt, dictatorial, theocratic regime - which uses an internal terror apparatus to steal elections, suppress women’s rights, violate free speech and press, and imprison and execute dissenters.  Not content to oppress its own people, it literally exports terror by supporting various terrorist groups across the world.

The Iranian people have a long and proud civilization, which has been usurped by an oppressive regime.  The current regime is established on principles exactly opposite of America’s First Principles.  The rule of law has been supplanted by the rule of force; unalienable rights are violated; there is no Social Compact – the regime imposes its will on the people; equality – especially for women – is subverted; the government is unlimited; and there is no right to alter the government.

Let us hope that the protest movement continues to take hold, brings down this unjust regime, and introduces our First Principles to a people that so desperately deserve them.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor & The Fight for Liberty

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend a speech by former United States Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.  At one point many called her the most powerful person in America - as the pivotal "swing" vote in many Supreme Court cases, she often determined the outcome of very critical cases.

As a former Arizona legislator and court of appeals judge, she was a vigorous protector of federalism (a concept all but forgotten today).  Since retiring she has become an outspoken advocate of civics education.  Many of her writings reflect the same concerns I have about our ability to survive as a free people when we are forgetting the basics of our Constitution.

Yesterday, she discussed the vital importance of judicial independence.  In particular, she advocated for insulating courts from the pressure of politics.  She argued that there needs to be a safe arena in our constitutional system for the rule of law to prevail.

As Alexander Hamilton argued, without judges to ensure adherence to the Constitution, it would "amount to nothing."  We need to heed O'Connor's and Alexander's warnings today, or we could very possibly lose our liberties tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog's Day - Again!

In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a mean and spiritless reporter who re-lives the same day (Groundhog's Day) for what appears to be centuries.  Of course, he is the only person who retains a memory of the day, and is forced to re-live it until he finds true love.  In addition to being a very funny and entertaining film, it teaches us a Dickens' Christmas Carol like message.

However, it is also a great lesson on the fact that trying to do the same thing over and over only leads to the same results - over and over.  Newt Gingrich likes to point out that real change requires, well, real change.  

Our system seems to be mired in a continuous Groundhog Day.  The same arguments, the same partisan disputes, the same issues seem to repeat over and over.  Perhaps this is because our political culture has become so unanchored from our Founding First Principles and generating history that all we can do is recycle the threadbare arguments of the day.  For a fresh approach, we need to go back to the future.  If our political culture and media would begin to exam today's issues through the lens of the rule of law, equality, the Social Compact, limited government, and unalienable rights, maybe we could break the never-ending cycle.

How refreshing it might be if we discussed critical issues like cap and trade, health care reform, and deficit spending in light of unalienable rights, limited government, and the Social Compact.  Not that such analysis will always lead people to the same opinions, but it could not but help elevate the debate and provide much needed illumination (as opposed to heat) in today's debates.