Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
“Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.” Ezra 1:3
Driving East we passed old olive trees and new cotton fields, climbing 1400 feet into the Judean Hills, from the “new” city of Tel Aviv, backward in time thousands of years to Jerusalem. Ascending the road marched by Maccabees, Romans, Crusaders, Arabs and British, we passed Latrun fortress and the damaged hulks of “armored” vehicles (seen here) destroyed during the ’48 War of Israeli Independence, now sporting a new coat of paint and arranged in a monument to those brave Israeli's who fought and perished trying to save the Jews trapped in the Old City. Inspiration to face overwhelming odds and never give up, when it means preserving life and freedoms.
This road was critical to the survival of the new Jewish nation and the scene of intense fighting as Arab armies fired down from both sides of the high hills flanking the roadway. After the Arabs successfully closed this vital link to the Jews besieged in Jerusalem, the Israeli’s under the command of American Micky Marcus  (pictured here) built the famous “Burma Road” at night, around the blockade, bringing relief to Jerusalem on June 9th - just days before the UN negotiated cease-fire. But for the convoys making it through, the Jews remaining in Jerusalem would have starved or surrendered.
As we reach the zenith of our climb up to Jerusalem, the ancient terraced Judean hills are replaced by bastions of Jewish housing in cream and rose “Jerusalem Stone.” During the miraculous Six Day War, Israel not only held the Lebanese on the Northern Border, but liberated the Old City, pushed the Jordanian armies back to the Eastern bank of the River Jordan, the Syrian Army off the Golan Heights above the Sea of Galilee, the Egyptians over the Suez Canal, and, thereby creating the “Occupied Territories” of the West Bank, Golan Heights and Sinai. So as to firmly establish its historical and future claim to the Holy City of Jerusalem, Israel “reunified” or annexed vast tracts of land surrounding the city, thereby creating a modern or “new” Jerusalem totaling 123,000 dunams (approximately 31,000 acres.) In the nearly forty years since, Jews have made aliya from around the world building fortress-like homes, apartments, condos and office buildings on the crowns of all the surrounding hills, wrapping a security belt, or stitching a “seam,” around the new city. Today, this new, impregnable Jerusalem is the largest city in both geography and population with 730,000 inhabitants (10% of total population.)
The governor doesn't arrive until tomorrow and so we spent our afternoon walking along the parapets of the Old City of Jerusalem and then down to the Western Wall as the sun was setting. Depicted below are some of the photos I took of the Old City of Jerusalem today. In the evening we went to the best falafel shop in all of Jerusalem "Doron's" and enjoyed he wonder flavors of deep-fried mixture of chopped-up chick-peas, salad and dressing stuffed in pita bread. All is well with the world and we look forward to a very busy second day.
 Joshua 10: 12-14.
 In one of the great stories that cemented the American-Israeli partnership, West Point graduate and WWII veteran Michael Stone moved to Israel to offer his services, changed his name to Mickey Marcus. Recognizing his talent and leadership, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion appointed him to be the first “Israeli General” since Judas Macabee fifteen centuries earlier.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Ten hours after leaving the United States, we landed at Ben-Gurion airport in Tel Aviv and, as always, the plane eruped in spontaneous applause. I immediately felt the same spiritual peace that I have felt on previous trips, but this time my heart and mind are troubled by the recent fighting in Gaza and the 2006 War in Lebanon. William Kristol wrote in the New York Times:
“Even though the security of Israel is very much at risk, the good news is that, unlike in the 1930s, the Jews are able to defend themselves, and the United States is willing to fight for freedom. Americans grasp that Israel’s very existence to some degree embodies the defeat and repudiation of the genocidal totalitarianism of the 20th century. They understand that its defense today is the front line of resistance to the jihadist terror, and the suicidal nihilism, that threaten to deform the 21st.”
This is my fifth trip to the Holy Land – the one place outside of the United States I most feel at home. Although I am not Jewish, Israel is nonetheless the birthplace of my Savior, who was. I can relate to my Jewish cousins, past and present, who long for the land of their inheritance. Away from Israel, the words of a Twelfth Century Spanish Jew beckon:
My Heart Is In the East, By Yehuda Halevi (c. 1141)
My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west--
How can I find savour in food? How shall it be sweet to me?
How shall I render my vows and my bonds, while yet
Zion lieth beneath the fetter of Edom, and I in Arab chains?
A light thing would it seem to me to leave all the good things of Spain --
Seeing how precious in mine eyes to behold the dust of the desolate sanctuary.
This return marks thirty years after my original pilgrimage and six-month long Christian “coming of age.” The sanctuary is desolate no longer but has blossomed as the rose (physically, culturally and democratically,) and we are here to learn, and learn we must, for the words of Eric Hoffer forty years ago seem even more true today: “I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.”
The 1948 Israeli Declaration of Independence ends with this phrase that has a double meaning: "With faith in the God of Israel," or alternatively "From the strength of Israel."
Saturday, May 9, 2009
5/9/09 - I'm sitting in Kennedy Airport in NYC awaiting my flight to Israel. In 2004, as founder and chairman of the Utah Chapter of the America Israel Friendship Leauge, I invited the then Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon to Utah. While here, he invited Governor Huntsman to lead a Trade Mission to Israel it begins today. This will be the first of a daily post from the Holy Land. Since we won't arrive in Tel Aviv until Sunday afternoon, for my first post, I copying my journal entry from my last trip to Israel as part of a fact finding mission at the completion of the war in Lebanon. Two days ago I sent out a tweet that nine attorneys general and I had sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning Hamas for committing "war crimes" with bomb attacks on civilian targets in southern Israel, and defending Israel's right to defend itself. Read about our letter at: http://jta.org/news/article/2009/05/06/1004954/10-attorneys-general-defend-israel.
Sadly not much has changed since my last trip, and therefore, I think my2006 post is a fitting prologue to this trip. It begins on September 11, 2006:
Five years ago today terrorists attacked America and awoke a sleeping giant to the reality that radical Islamic Jihadists had declared war on all infidels. It is a war that began when the British pulled out of Palestine, and expolded on May 14, 1948, the day that David Ben-Gurion declared the birth of a democratic nation in the Middle East. Millions of Arabs massed to “push the Jews into the sea and soak the land with their blood.” Israelis have not known peace from that day on. Terror has filled their days and fear their nights. In the spirit of Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous quote “that which does not kill us makes us stronger,” Israelis pulled together with nationalistic pride, solidarity and faith and did not just survive – but prospered.
Eleven minutes after the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel at 6 o'clock PM (Washington D.C. time) the USA became the first country to formally recognize the State of Israel. But that wasn’t the beginning of our alliance. From the moment that first GI Joe cut the locks and opened the gates to the liberation of the survivors of the Holocaust, Americans and the Children of Israel have been locked together as “Partners in Democracy.” In the sixty years since that moment, our alliance has been tested, the bonds have been stretched and our friendship often challenged. But because of our common commitment to freedom and peace, democracy is alive and well and forevermore firmly rooted in the State of Israel.
Today I sat in the Newark, N.J. “Liberty” Airport waiting for my El Al flight. Looking out the window across the Hudson river I had a clear view of the New York City skyline. There was the Empire State Building. It is the most famous and recognizable skyline in the world. But five years ago it changed forever, and is now not so easily identifiable. So how have Americans responded to our “involuntary enlistment” into the War on Terror? Before 9/11 we had grown lazy, selfish and complacent. We did not appreciate our freedom, prosperity and safety. All that changed with the flames and smoke and screams of that awful morning. American naiveté was swallowed up in the choking avalanche of dust that down the canyons of Manhattan that fateful morning. But what emerged from the settling dust was the natal heartbeat of America. Patriotism, community and service were reborn and ALL Americans wept, then prayed, then cheered, when President Bush, standing atop the twisted metal consecrated by its fusion with the sacrifice of so many innocents, boldly and spontaneously proclaimed to our collective soul: “I hear you, and the world hears you. And the people who knocked down those buildings are going to hear from all of us soon!"
A scant five years later and despite decisive victories that have kept the terrorists occupied “over there” so they can’t hurt us “over here,” our country is torn nearly in half. It is being ripped apart, not by Jidhadists bent on our destruction, but by Americans split on party and ideological lines with a hatred and viciousness previously reserved only for our deadliest enemies.
As the blue Star of David of the Israeli flag on the wing of our jet passed that diminished New York skyline I asked myself: “What am I looking for in Israel? What is there to learn? How can what I’m about to experience over the next week benefit those I serve?”
I hoped to find the answer in the mission. I’m looking to one of our strongest allies; an oasis of democracy and freedom in a desert of despotism and repression; a light on a hill that cannot be hid; an example of solidarity and national resolve to win a war on terror for nearly sixty years. I believe there is much we can learn from them. As the massive tires of the 747 left the soil of America and I watched the Big Apple grow small and disappear, I couldn’t help but wonder, “what becomes of us if Israel fails her latest test?”
 "America is now at Israel’s cradle – virtually as its mother. As such it has a high responsibility… there is much nursing and nurturing to be done to make the new nation live and grow to fulfill the two-thousands year old dream, hope and prayer of the Children of Israel." -Letter to President Harry S. Truman from Rabbi Samuel Thurman of the United Hebrew Congregation, May 17, 1948.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
In 1861, in response to Mexico's refusal to pay off debts, Britain, Spain and France sent troops to Mexico. The new democratically-elected government of President Benito Juarez made agreements with the British and the Spanish, who promptly recalled their armies. But the French refused to negotiate. French Emperor Napoleon III had a much larger goal in mind: Conquer Mexico and install his cousin, Archduke Maximillian of Austria as ruler of Mexico; and then assist their allies, the Confederate States of America, in their war against the North. The French were unable to supply the South with desperately needed arms and supplies because of the Union's naval blockade of Southern ports. Once they ruled, Mexico however, Napoleon III planned to supply and support President Jefferson Davis through the confederate state of Texas.
Fortunately Maximilian's rule was short-lived. Mexican rebels opposed to his rule resisted, seeking the aid of the United States. With the Civil War over, the unified and strengthened U.S. military returned the favor and began supplying Mexicans with weapons and ammunition, and by 1867, the Mexican freedom fighters finally defeated the French and deposed their puppet Emperor. The Mexican people then reelected Benito Juárez as president.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
The original Boston Tea Party occured on Decemeber 16, 1773 as 7000 Americans stood all day on the wharves of Boston Harbor braving the the damp cold and icy winds refusing to let the East India Compay onload their shipment of tea off three ships. Parliament had created a tea monopoly in East India Company, and tried to trick the colonists by lowering the price of tea but keeping it taxed believing the Americans would not give up the tea but they would “have them” if they paid their tax. On that historic day, the Crown appointed Governor refused the ship captains’ request to sail away with their cargo. And a stalemate insued.
Just up the street at the Old South Meeting House, the leader of the Massachussetts Sons of Liberty, Samuel Adams gave the final secret mesage to the raiding party: “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country," signalling that the time for talk was over, and it was time for ACTION! We gather here today for the same reason and with much the same purpose. Last night on KSL Nightside Project the host said that he will declare today’s participants are "hypocrites" if all we do is talk and take no action and make no changes in Congress.
And so at the signal, the other Sons of Liberty leader, Paul Revere, led 200 Sons of Liberty down to the dock disguised as Mohawks and threw the tea into Boston Harbor. King George III was particularly angered at this insult to his authority. It so angered him that he had Parliament pass the Intolerable Acts which: 1. Closed Boston Harbor so food couldn't get in or out (justice, common defense, life, liberty, property) ; 2. the colonists couldn't hold town meetings without government approval (free speech, peaceably assemble or petition for redress of grievances); and 3. New Quartering Act so colonists HAD to house British troops (3rd and 4th amendments).
Just sixteen months later on April 17th, 1775 Paul Revere set out on his famous ride to warn the country side, including Samuel Adams and John Hancock in Lexington, that the British were coming to arrest them and to capture the weapons, guns, cannon and powder stored in Concord.
"…You know the rest. In the books you have read
“The Minuteman of the Revolution!—he was the old, the middle-aged, and the young…He was Deacon Josiah Haynes of Sudbury, eighty years old, who marched with his company to the South Bridge at Concord, then joined in the hot pursuit to Lexington, and fell gloriously… at Bunker Hill. He was James Hayward of Acton, twenty-two years old, foremost in that deadly race from Concord to Charlestown, who raised his piece at the same moment with a British soldier, each exclaiming, “You are a dead man!” The Briton dropped, shot through the heart. James Hayward fell mortally wounded. “Father,” he said, “I started with forty balls; I have three left. I never did such a day’s work before. Tell mother not to mourn too much; and tell her whom I love more than my mother, that I am not sorry I turned out. This was the minuteman of the Revolution, the rural citizen trained in the common school, the church, and the town meeting; …whose gun, loaded with a principle, brought down, not a man, but a system.”
III. CONSTITUTION (The Fulfillment)
Today is Tax Day and We are Here as Patriots to Lodge our Protest.
Vice President Joe Biden during the campaign said it is “patriotic” for Americans to pay more taxes. What do you think of that?
Like 18th Century England and the East India Company, our Congress created and maintained a government sponsored monopoly in FANNIE-MAE and FREDDIE-MAC
and through government protectionism, over-regulation and meddling in the real estate free market, social reengineering through such laws as the Community Reinvestment Act, not to mention manipulation by the FED – they created the artificial bubble which burst and now they want you and me and our children and grandchildren to pay for it!
England feigned its “benevolence” by lowering the cost of tea believing we would be sucked in and so grateful to have our “spot of tea” that we wouldn’t mind the taxation (and hence tacit support of the Crown and Parliament.)
Congress has feigned its “benevolence” by pork and earmarks (as it has done for decades) and has now proposed $5 TRILLON IN NEW SPENDING (thank you for taking care of our every need from cradle to grave… wipe our nose… put a Band-Aid on our booboos, make sure we can’t fail, and put a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage.. and they expect us (1) to be grateful for their benevolence and (2) to pay for it - $1.4 TRILLION IN NEW TAXES!
RNC Chairman Michael Steele: “Taking your hard earned dollars to redistribute the wealth; put our kids and their kids in hock to pay for the spending and destroy the savings of middle class Americans. I love the bumper sticker I say yesterday: "President Obama: I’ll keep my Money, my Guns and my Freedom – you can keep the “Change!”
But it isn't just the current Democratic leadership of our country we protest here today. I love this sign up front here that says, "I'm not a Republican or a Democrat, I'm an American." The prior Republican administration and our Republican in Congress our as much at fault for where we are today.
Of the hundreds of Tea Parties right now across this great country, It's an honor to be with you great patriots here today who like Sam Adams and Paul Revere and the 200 men who boarded those three ships in Boston Harbor, cheered on by 7000 on the dock, who are not fooled and who will not sit back quietly and watch as our income, and our freedoms our stolen from us by the unprincipled and un-American actions of a few Washington D.C. You are all great Americans who may I add have the good fortune of right now standing in one of only three states in our union that had the good sense to reject the 16th income tax amendment to our Constitution. Some of you might call for a repeal of the 16th Amendment. At the very least, it's time for a simpler, tax structure: A flat tax, or a national sales tax, just about anything is better than what we have now.
Our Constitution for more than one hundred years prohibited a graduated income tax and the fourth amendment expressly preserved "the right(s) of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers"; which in turn prohibited a tax audit from ever occurring.
Prior to the 16th amendment, which gave congress the "power to lay and collect taxes on income from any source whatever..." Federal taxes were apportioned per population of the states and mostly gathered by the states and then sent by the states to the Federal government. That is was what the founding fathers believed: A balance of power consistent with the creation of power. Government of the People.
But now things are different. Frankly now things are a mess. And I'm not talking about the economy, which is awful. I'm talking about the state of our nation: The balance of power between the Federal government and the States - the balance of power between government and the people.
How is it that as nation we have awaken to find ourselves embracing socialism? The government now thinks it is its duty to make the citizens happy rather than preserve our liberties so that we can pursue happiness on our own. And it goes about accomplishing its errant pursuit by plundering those that through their labors have been successful by means of excessive taxation and redistributing wealth to those who have achieved less success. The most notable, recent example that comes to mind is the TARP $700 billion bailout of Wall Street last October: A perfect example of government reaching beyond its power, compelling the taxpayers to go into debt to give to Wall Street.
I wonder how it is that most of the leaders in Washington have forgotten what it is that made this nation great?
Is it our social programs or entitlement programs? NO!
What is it? One Word: FREEDOM! (Ask them to repeat.)
Its our freedom to innovate, to succeed, to create jobs, and -- dare I say it -- earn a PROFIT and use that profit to take care of our families, neighbors and friends.
The nation must be very careful about the tax burden it places on the citizens. It was predicted by Karl Marx that our form of government would slowly change to socialism, which is naturally just one step away from communism. And the catalyst for that change Marx said is higher and higher taxes.
Have the leaders in Washington forgotten why they are there?
Who are they there to serve? WE THE PEOPLE!
Why are they there? To grant us rights and privileges?
NO – TO SECURE OUR GOD GIVEN RIGHTS!
John Adams reminded us that "we are a nation of laws AND NOT OF MEN!"
Our laws are based on that inspired bedrock charger: the Constitution, which set the parameters and established The Rule of Law!
The Constitution is the fulfillment of the promise of the Declaration of Independence and it purpose is to form a more perfect Union and to, among other core functions, to secure the blessings of liberty (life, liberty, and the possession of property – granted us by our Creator.)
An illustration of this principle is in order. Can you go to your neighbor and demand that he pay for your mortgage payment if you get behind and are in jeopardy of losing your home? You may ask him to help, but can you compel him to make the payment or even a portion of the payment? Of course not! You have no right and no authority to do so. For the right of your neighbor to keep his property and enjoy the fruits of his labor is natural right.
To compel a man to part with his money in your behalf would be in violation of the most basic of laws: Thou shall not steal.
It is just as the great philosopher John Locke said, “For nobody can transfer to another more power than he has in himself, and nobody has an arbitrary power of himself, or over any other, to destroy his own life, or take away the life or property of another.”
Yet isn't that what government is doing when it takes your earnings and gives it to another to pay down their mortgage. And by so doing Government steps beyond the power the people hold and sets itself up to be our master; when in fact, it us that should be its master.
Through its tax laws and policies, it has legalized the plunder of your wealth and become an accomplice to the feat through the collection of excessive taxes that are redistributed to those who have earned less and who government deems should have more.
Let me give you another example, can a father legally indebt and obligate his son of less than 18 years to pay for the debt incurred by the father today? Of course not, in modern history there is no legal precedent for that.
But again, isn't that what the federal government is doing now? Our government is running record deficits without regard for growing the national debt as it tries to be the guarantor of entitlements to all people. And who will pay for this debt, our children and grand children, some of whom have yet to be born. This generation's life style of excesses is the next generation's burdens of debt – and it is wrong and it’s immoral!
During the Presidents inaugural address, he said “we must be careful to not burden future generations with a debt they cannot pay.” Say what!!?? He’s got it wrong! Our duty is not to estimate what level of debt future generations are capable of paying, rather our duty is to leave them with no debt at all!
Of course that line of reasoning is hard to find in the halls of congress today.
For as government’s desire has grown to provide for the actual well being of its citizens rather than just for preserving the opportunity to fare well, so has its unquenchable thirst for your tax dollars grown. That’s just the way it is. Government is not a producer – It’s a consumer. It needs you and I to fund its every whim.
And don’t think for a second that Government is going to selflessly give you back your money. They will find a way to blow it. The only way to slow the growth of government is to do as Ronald Reagan said and “put government on a diet.” And that means tax cuts, across the board. It also means a balanced budget amendment. No more government IOUs to be paid by future generations. And if you think about, how can the future generations not yet of adult age protect themselves from today’s tyrants. Did they vote the tax and spend culprits into office? No, nor can they remove them. So how then can today’s politician claim the power and the authority to obligate future generations to pay for today’s gross lifestyle of consumption? They have no power. They have no authority. It’s time for a balanced budget amendment. And it’s time to balance it based on tax cuts and less spending!
Back when congress and the nation were considering the 16th amendment, the running joke about it was to refer to call it the "soak the rich" amendment. The less affluent thought they could get rich off of someone else's production. But the last laugh was on them. Affluent people are smart. They didn't get their money by accident. They got it through industry. Do you think that the rich are going to let the people just take their hard-earned money. Of course not, they are going to lobby for favorable laws to protect their earnings. It's a constant back and forth of special interests between those that have accumulated property and those who covet their property.
For example, take the community reinvestment act which requires loans to be made to people of lower incomes whom the bankers know would likely default. These are people who should have been renting. And many of those loans were guaranteed by the quasi-government “government sponsored” organizations known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Of course, when the loans began to default did the financial institutions who made those unwise loans take the hit? No they did not. They came to our agents, the Federal government, and to your Senator, and your Representative asking for you and I to help them recoup their loses through a taxpayer, financed government handout.
Some of you may be familiar with the late pastor, Dr. Adrian Rogers. He truly said it best when he said, “You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of the nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
Let me repeat, “you cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
Now, If you think government has NOT usurped more power over the people than the people have granted it, if you think we are still the masters of government in a free market society, I ask you only to look back to last October again. When congress was considering the bill to authorize billions of tax dollars to bailout Wall Street the people made their voices known. Calls by the citizens to their representatives and Senators were grossly in opposition to the action. Some reports had it that over 80% of the constituent calls to Congress were opposed to the bailouts. The results of survey from national pollsters overwhelmingly echoed those same sentiments. But despite those reports of opposition government thought it knew best and Congress passed the bailouts into law. The majority of congress showed us exactly where they think we the people stand in the pecking order. Well those congressman's names are known and while we have devolved into a quasi-socialist state, we have not yet lost all power. We still have our elections (Declaration, “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”) and we will make our voices heard and they will know where we stand.
Before we go any further, I don't want you to think that I'm against all taxes. There are just causes for Federal taxation supported by our constitution. Like the raising of a military to defend us. Or at my request, the creation of an Attorney General Criminal Alien Strike Force!
It is our responsibility and our honor bound duty to pay for our fair share of our collective government’s protection. But our taxes should be uniform, they should be of a single rate, without diminishing deductions and prejudice based on a graduated income scale.
These days most of our Federal taxes are for services that should be rendered by the Feds, but by states or not at all. I believe strongly in this principle: Taxes should be levied at the lowest level possible, closest to the people where they can monitor and evaluate and mold how the money is spent. When the Federal government collects the taxes, well, then the Federal government gets to decide how it will dole it out to the states according to their notion of what is fair and what is needed. This is exactly opposite of what the founders believed and frankly I do not have a lot of trust in the Federal government right now.
So how did we get to be in this awful situation? We let our elected officials ignore the constitution. We let government grow its power beyond in rightful scope. And government has thanked us with higher taxes and entitlement programs for all.
Now, You may be asking yourself how do we get control back? How do we restore order to chaos?
We start today! At this very hour!
We’ll get the government we deserve back only if we stand up like those Sons of Liberty of old and say “We’re mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore!"
May I propose that in taking action, we look to that great statesman, the former Secretary of the Agriculture, Ezra Taft Benson who decades ago saw firsthand where the nation was headed through unconstitutional socialist spending programs.
He suggested a three-step approach to getting control of our nation and our government back:
First, Freeze spending on unconstitutional federal programs.
Second, Do not renew unconstitutional federal programs after their funding runs out.
Third, Plan for and phase out unconstitutional federal programs, that are indefinite in nature.
And if I may be so bold to add a Fourth step: Put in place the safe guards to stop it from happening. Pass a balanced budget amendment.
It is up to us to do it. It may take years, or even decades to accomplish but it is up to us.
It is up to us to send statesmen to Congress who understand our constitution and who will chart a return course to its principles.
The stakes have never been higher. We must succeed or we will suffer the fate of all those governments that have failed before us – totalitarianism – being servants to the state.
The American experiment is not yet over. There is still hope.
Finally, let me return to the two leaders of the Massachusetts Son’s of Liberty who led the original Tea Party – and so much more, Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, with the hope and the prayers that they, if not I, will inspire you and motivate you to action.
“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you and may posterity forget that ye were once our countrymen.”
I hope you leave today committed to make a difference. Leave with a conviction of conscience to make every effort to be worthy of this constitutional framework that was given to us. America needs you to do it. Your family needs you to do it. Your future descendants need you to do it. The world needs us to do it. And it starts right here, thanks to the inspiration and leadership of patriots like Glen Beck and Adam Gardiner and Candace Salima. And it is a force today emanating from these Purple Mountains Majesty, and spreading across the fruited plain and growing in power and efficacy from sea to shining sea. It is the power of WE THE PEOPLE!
As our voices are in harmony, we must remain united in purpose. For as Alex de Toqueville so appropriately stated, “in a democracy, we get the government we deserve.” and we deserve only that which we defend.
And so I leave with you the last words that Samuel Adams spoke to the Sons of Liberty on a cold December evening in 1773 that sent them on their task that lit the match and ignited the fire that would end only in our independence and our freedom and the establishment of the greatest nation in the history of our world:
And so I say to you today, “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!" The time for talk is over.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Thanks for your help! The Utah Senate voted to bring back justice to victims of heinous crimes by passing SJR14 with a 23-6 vote (more than the necessary 2/3 for a constitutional amendment.) It is now in the House and we need your help again. Please watch the above video, and read the following and then contact your Representative or the House main number (linked below) and ask them to vote for HJR14. If interested, you can get much more information, and answers to frequently asked questions, by clicking here: www.sjr14.com.
Our current justice system is broken. The death penalty in Utah has become a myth. Death row inmates are winning a war of attrition. The last murderer to be involuntarily executed in Utah was HiFi Shop murderer William Andrews in 1992. Please read this post, listen to the pleas of victims and help me by calling your legislator and asking them to support Senate Joint Resolution 14.
In 1988, Michael Archuleta and his prison buddy kidnapped Cedar City college student Gordon Church and put him in the trunk of a car, drove him to a secluded area and tortured him to death in a manner too shocking to relate here. Suffice it to say; afterwards Archuleta’s pants were soaked in his victim’s blood. Archuleta was convicted and sentenced to death. Twenty years later, his victim’s family members are still waiting for justice. Last week, his brother Kevin Church, pictured here, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of SJR14, a proposed Constitutional amendment to put an end to the frivolous manipulation of the present system that extends execution of the death penalty, and the suffering of these victims, for decades.
In 1986, Ralph Menzies kidnapped a young mother, Maurine Hunsaker, at a gas station, drove her to the Storm Mountain picnic area in Big Cottonwood Canyon, strangled her, and slit her throat. Menzies was convicted and sentenced to death. Twenty-two years later, his victim’s family members are still waiting for justice. Her son Matt also testified. The victim's mother, watching next to Matt, is worried she will die before she sees justice for her butchered daughter.
In 1990, Von Lester Taylor and a friend broke into a cabin in rural Utah and waited for the family to return. When they did, Taylor shot the grandmother and the mother, killing both. He shot the father in the face, set fire to the cabin, and, along with his friend, kidnapped the two daughters. Taylor pled guilty and was sentenced to death. Eighteen years later, his victims’ family members are still waiting for justice. The murdered women's daughter and sister, Barbara Noriega, testified before the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice and Sentencing Commission, which voted to support the amendment. Joining them are the Utah Council on Victims of Crime, the Statewide Association of Prosecutors and the Utah Law Enforcement Legislative Committee.
Twelve years ago Jorge Benvenuto found two friends taking pictures up the canyon and murdered Zach Snarr, then turned his gun point blank on Yvette Rodier and shot her twice, then stood over her while he reloaded and shot her twice more. He later said he just wanted to watch someone die. Yvette survived and is now a powerful voice for justice to the victims of crime. Zach's mom, Sy, seen here, also turned her pain to service as a member of the Sentencing Commission.
These cases are typical. A majority of the men on Utah’s death row are there for murders committed in the mid-1980s. They have been granted extensive appeals. None is innocent, and yet our courts have effectively repealed the death penalty by refusing to follow Utah law. These cases take a terrible toll on victims, whose healing process is put on hold while lawyers litigate endlessly, and who are re-victimized time and again as those who murdered their loved ones, and whose convictions have already been upheld on appeal, are allowed to file one frivolous petition after another.and by allowing one frivolous appeal after another.
To right this wrong, my office has proposed a constitutional amendment sponsored by Senator Curt Bramble (Senate Joint Resolution 14,) to bring justice back to the victims of horrible crimes.
The Utah Post-Conviction Remedies Act (PCRA,) enacted by the legislature in 1996, was designed to allow courts to uncover serious trial and appellate errors, while at the same time curbing abusive appeals. Under the PCRA, any inmate is entitled to one lawsuit in state court to review his trial and appeal. After that, his conviction and sentence are final, subject to a few narrow exceptions, such as when new DNA evidence becomes available. However, the Utah Supreme Court has bypassed the PCRA. Invoking their constitutional authority, they have ignored the carefully drawn statutory exceptions to finality, allowing resourceful lawyers to litigate even frivolous claims for decades.
Senate Joint Resolution 14 is designed to restore balance. It proposes a constitutional amendment that, once adopted by the people, will require our courts to enforce statutory restrictions on post-conviction appeals, just as the United States Supreme Court and most state courts do.
The amendment will also protect the innocent. It guarantees that the legislature can never block a truly innocent inmate from proving his innocence in court.
Some argue that lack of funding is the problem, as if the way to curb litigation were to pay lawyers more to litigate. In fact, under the PCRA, lawyers representing death row inmates earn $125 per hour. Only one state — California — pays a higher hourly rate. In addition, death row inmates have access to unlimited state funds to investigate and present any potentially meritorious claims that our courts have not already rejected. Funding is not the problem.
Those convicted of crime deserve a fair trial, a direct appeal, and an opportunity to prove that their constitutional rights were denied in trial or on appeal. But at some point, a guilty criminal’s right to re-litigate his case must give way to the community’s right to finality and the victims’ right to closure. Our current system of endless appeals gives guilty inmates more process than they deserve, and innocent victims much less. The system is broken. We need this constitutional amendment to set the scales of justice back into balance.
Some in the media have misstated the purpose and intent of this legislation and vilified me and my office for bringing it. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of SJR14 and the whole Senate will likely vote on it next week. Please stand up for the victims of heinous crimes still waiting for justice and call your Senator.
Click here for a Legislative House District Map if you're not sure which district you live in:
Click here for information on how to contact your representative:
Or you can call the main number at the Utah State Houaw of Representatives at (801) 538-1029 and urge them to give to you, the people of Utah, the right to vote on a Constitutional Amendment that will ensure justice in Utah courts.
Mark L. Shurtleff
Utah Attorney General
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
He Was a Man of Sorrow.
Abraham Lincoln was raised in extreme poverty; he learned the value of hard work, perseverance and independence, which formed his personal politics of individual liberty and free market capitalism. He truly was a man acquainted with grief. His mother died when he was 9, his dear older sister in childbirth, and two beautiful sons at the tender ages of 4 and 11. He said of his mother, “All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.” He faced these challenges with courage and aplomb and the hardships made him stronger and prepared him to lead the nation through a terrible civil war where brother killed brother, and his example set the stage for healing when the fighting finally ended.
Dr. Jerome Walker, of Brooklyn, was showing President Lincoln through an army hospital visiting wounded Union soldiers. When they came to three wards occupied by sick and wounded Southern prisoners, the doctor said: “Mr. President, you won't want to go in there; they are only rebels.' Lincoln stopped and gently laid his large hand upon his shoulder and quietly answered, 'You mean Confederates!' He said that the president was “just as kind, his hand-shakings just as hearty, his interest just as real for the welfare of the men, as when he was among our own soldiers.”
His Laughter was the Best Medicine.
Lincoln was famous for his wit and self-deprecating humor. His earliest know writing was a funny poem he wrote in his teens in his school primer:
His hand and pen
He will be good but
God knows when.”
At 20 he was elected Captain of the New Salem Militia, sworn in by a regular army Lt. Jefferson Davis, and fought in the Black Hawk War. Although nearly six feet four, Lincoln “tended to walk with a slouch in those days.” His colonel was less than five feet. The colonel reprimanded Lincoln for his poor posture. “Come, Abe, hold up your head; high, fellow!” Lincoln held his head high and stretched his neck and said, “So, sir?” The colonel said, “Yes, fellow, but a little higher. Lincoln asked, “And am I always to remain so?” When the colonel said yes, Lincoln looked down at him with a sad look and said, “Then good-bye, colonel, for I shall never see you again.”
In the midst of the presidential campaign, Senator Douglas called Lincoln a “two-faced man.” Lincoln replied: “I leave it to my audience. If I had another face, do you think I would wear this one?”
He Put Principle Above Politics.
His own words inform us of a character to emulate
“You may burn my body to ashes, and scatter them to the winds of heaven; you may drag my soul down to the regions of darkness and despair to be tormented forever; but you will never get me to support a measure which I believe to be wrong!”
“Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.”
“If ever I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone and hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, before High Heaven, and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life my liberty and my love. And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly adopt the oath that I take. Let none falter, who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But, if after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of saying to out consciences, and to the departed shade of our country’s freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and adorned of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in death, we NEVER faltered in defending.”
Abraham Lincoln’s example, words and principles are as relevant and instructive today during our current economic crisis as they were during his life. This from Time columnist David Von Drehle:
“Lincoln lived through two major economic crashes, in 1837 and 1857, and he learned some timeless lessons. He foresaw, in the Union he struggled to preserve, an open, competitive, capitalist, enterprising nation, tied together by rapid transportation and communication. He believed that government had a leading role to play in building the infrastructure of a growing economy. But the guiding principle for all of it, the whole reason for the nation's being, was that "equal chance" — the humble citizen's right to get ahead. Lincoln understood that economic freedom was the bedrock of political liberty. One is not possible without the other...Lincoln exhorts us to take risks. Bet on America. But never lose sight of the goal: economic freedom for individuals — the right to rise and prosper." What Would Lincoln Do? Time magazine, 2/9/09.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
I was pleased to recognize and honor First-place winner Phoebe Jarman from Diamond Fork High School in Spanish Fork and Second-place winner Josh Meyer from San Juan High School in Blanding. Their creativity and artistic talent will go a long way to educate their peers about Internet safety.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Near the end of his famous one-man filibuster, Senator Smith croaked:
“Just get up off the ground, that's all I ask. Get up there with that lady that's up on top of this Capitol dome, that lady that stands for liberty. Take a look at this country through her eyes if you really want to see something. And you won't just see scenery; you'll see the whole parade of what Man's carved out for himself, after centuries of fighting. Fighting for something better than just jungle law, fighting so's he can stand on his own two feet, free and decent, like he was created, no matter what his race, color, or creed. That's what you'd see. There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or compromise with human liberties. And, uh, if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better get those boys' camps started fast and see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the Taylors, or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!”
(Watch this video clip on my Facebook page, by clicking on this link: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1345211756 )
In a few days, the former junior Senator from Illinois, following a meteoric rise based on a declaration of hope and optimism and change, will stand beneath that same Lady Liberty and swear an oath on Lincoln’s Bible to become the first African American President of the United States of America. President Obama goes to Washington at a time when the graft and greed of Wall Street have plunged our nation into a downward economic spiral that threatens our very future.
I did not vote for Senator Barack Obama. I supported the man, Senator John McCain, who I believed had, by a lifetime of public service, and tested in the fires of war, isolation and torture, proven himself best suited to lead us through the tough times ahead. But I will support President Barack Obama. I support him with my prayers and my own public service. My Pollyanna optimism and my ideas .While I disagree with many of his social and economic policies and worry about the lasting impact of his judicial appointments, I will give him the chance that so many refused his predecessor.
I am going to the inauguration based on my own audacious hope that Barack Obama truly believes what he wrote a few years ago as he prepared to run for the presidency, and that he will govern this blessed nation accordingly. In writing of the “fundamental decency of the American people,” he sounded very Jefferson Smith-like in declaring:
“[A]t the core of the American experience are a set of ideals that continue to stir our collective conscience; a common set of values that bind us together despite our differences; a running thread of hope that makes our improbable experiment in democracy work. These values and ideals find expression not just in the marble slabs of monuments or in the recitation of history books. They remain alive in the hearts and minds of most Americans – and can inspire us to pride, duty and sacrifice.” - Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on reclaiming the American Dream.
Pessimists and pundits will claim that his is a lost cause, but juar as Jimmy/Jefferson taught his seniors that lost causes were “the only causes worth fighting for,” as long as they were based on “just one plain simple rule: 'Love thy neighbor…'” Mr. Obama taught in The Audacity of Hope, that what we are facing is a “breakdown in culture that will not be cured by money alone, and that our values and spiritual life matter at least as much as our GDP.”
Good Luck and God Speed Mr. President!
Saturday, January 10, 2009
“In the end, the game comes down to one thing: man against man. May the best man win.” - Sam Huff, NFL Hall of Fame middle linebacker.
As a first team All-American at West Virginia University, Sam Huff played in the Sugar Bowl 55 years ago. I don’t want to speak for Mr. Huff, but had he joined the other Sugar Bowl legends at the game last week, I’m sure he would have agreed that the best “man” won; but I wonder what he thinks of the unsportsmanlike system that has unfairly prohibited the men from the Mountain West Conference (and a thousand other NCAA Division I-A athletes who play in an “ugly stepsister conference) to ever have the chance to prove themselves, unarguably, the Best in the Nation. Instead, the BCS has artificially crowned THEIR national champion.
By now it's widely known that I am looking into the possibility of bringing an antitrust action against the BCS. The support from around the country has been overwhelming. However, a few have questioned my motives. Perhaps the following information will better explain the nature and purpose of my inquiry and why I have a duty to proceed with at least full due diligence in assessing whether to bring an antitrust action against the BCS:
1. As Attorney General, I have a duty to enforce federal and state antitrust laws.
2. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that antitrust laws apply to NCAA athletics.
3. The University of Utah and some other NCAA Division 1-A schools in Utah are taxpayer funded institutions and I have a duty to protect and defend them against violations of the law.
4. The BCS system involves millions of dollars a year of potential revenue to these institutions that could help replace dwindling taxpayer generated general fund monies. For the 2007-2008 bowl season, the BCS Championship Series distributed about $143 million in gross income for the twelve conferences participating in the BCS System. Two million dollars went to other miscellaneous distributees. Of that $143 million in gross income, 88% went to members of the six conferences with preferred eligibility to the Championship Series Bowls (with about 65 schools participating) and 12% went to six conferences with non-preferential eligibility (with about 54 schools participating). A similar split in the distribution of Bowl Championship Series gross income occurred in prior years. Additionally, the right of preferred entrance teams to act as the host venues for bowl games generates, according to the BCS, about $1.2 billion in secondary income benefits.
5. These schools, and my office, recognize the tremendous positive aspects of college sports and the great benefit a winning team can provide for the institution as well as the state.
6. If a system unreasonably restrains the opportunity of our educational institutions to freely and fairly compete to be designated as a national college football champion-a designation desired by football fans throughout the nation-such a system could unfairly deprive our institutions and my state of these important and significant revenues.
The stated purpose of the NCAA is: “to govern competition in a fair, safe, equitable and sportsmanlike manner.” Hopefully the NCAA will get back to the basics and take back I-A football and create a fair and equal playoff system. Until then the Utes have as much right as the Gators to claim that this year the best men in college football did win - in New Orleans!
Monday, January 5, 2009
"My creed is that public service must be more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It must be a complete dedication to the people and to the nation with full recognition that every human being is entitled to courtesy and consideration, that constructive criticism is not only to be expected but sought, that smears are not only to be expected but fought, that honor is to be earned, not bought.”
Today I had the distinct honor and privilege of placing my left hand on my daughter Annie's Bible, held by my wife M'Liss, and raising my right hand to the square and swearing that I would "uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Utah, and to perform the duties of my office with fidelity!" There is little more humbling than to swear an oath before God, and the people of Utah to serve them by protecting their rights and enforcing on their behalf the rule of law as set forth in our inspired federal and state constitutions.
And so today, I solemnly rededicate myself, my time, talents, education, experience, heart and soul to serving you, the people of the wonderful State of Utah and to leading an office and an organization of legal and law enforcement professionals dedicated to establishing justice and protecting you and your families, your hard earned tax dollars, the environment and our natural resources.
Please visit my website, www.attorneygeneral.utah.gov and learn how we can better serve you.
Photos of the inauguration ceremony courtesy of the Governor's office:
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Friday, January 2, 2009
Check the Shurtleff UTE SPIRIT!