Liberty and Justice for All

Pledge of AllegianceA late night tonight with an infant daughter who woke up in a coughing fit. My wife Robin gives her some medicine while I down another “Airborne” in an effort to ward off potential bugs. My schedule has been extremely busy these days and it is hard to find enough time to eat, let alone sleep. Yet I pick up the laptop tonight because my mind has fallen out of neutral gear.

Sorting through my email, I find another example of immigration service bungling. Another law-abiding individual who tried to go through the legal immigration system is being harassed by INS and readied for deportation. In spite of the media frenzy over Mark Foley, the real scar on America these days is the detainee treatment bill that has gone ignored since ABC made the evening news X-rated. A congress that can’t agree on sensible immigration reform has plenty of time to savage American ideals at the behest of the executive branch, all while they bumble over their inability to monitor their own members’ Internet use inside the capitol complex.

When I was recruited to the Salt Lake Rotary Club, I was a bit taken aback by the reciting of the pledge before the meeting. It had literally been decades since I had said those words. College and business hadn’t given much call for it in the day-to-day. The words are not forgotten, having been imprinted on my mind in grade school, but they mean so much more to me now. As I watch individuals being yanked from the American dream for no good reason and foreign prisoners assumed to be guilty before proven innocent, I look for the simple foundation of the ideals I hold dear.

“With liberty and justice for all.” Did Francis Bellamy make a mistake in 1892? Did he mean to write, “With liberty and justice for only Americans?” I don’t believe so. I don’t believe the founding fathers were ruminating over keeping their ideals bound solely to our shores when they risked their lives to plant liberty in the soil of a new nation. As Americans we are set to a higher standard, not only in how we treat our fellow man, but especially in how we treat the accused and the immigrant.

I believe that those who wish to do harm to the innocent should be locked away for a very long time. I believe that if you commit a felony while waiting for citizenship then that opportunity should be revoked. But justice should be swift and it should be fair. Punishing the guilty does not require abusing the innocent. Throughout the wrangling in our nation’s capitol over how to treat the enemy combatants I never once heard the words, “Do to others what you would have them do to you.” Although many advocate American law being rooted in the Bible, the “Golden Rule” is consistently forgotten, or perhaps it has been replaced by another “Golden Rule”, “He who has the gold makes the rules.”

The final crunch of this campaign is here. The billboards for the incumbent proclaiming his ownership of all good adjectives have appeared. I ask of you two simple things, tell everyone you know and meet of this campaign and always reach out to those who are need. If you wish to help a law-abiding individual doing his best to live and build the American dream, then give some consideration to Guillermo Colmenero. Email his supporters Terry and Ruby.

17 thoughts on “Liberty and Justice for All

  1. Pete:

    Excellent BLOG. The detainee bill is outrageous! I am sadddened that so many Democrats voted for it in the Senate … with Joe Lieberman bringing up the rear.

    I hope you had time to watch the Bill Moyer’s special last night on KUED! That’s another outrage. Even worse, the two experts who commented on it were both pessimistic about any improvement in things in the forseeable future. We no longer have a functional democracy when members of Congress, see nothing wrong in what they are doing, hide behind Jesus and continue behaving like Russian Mafia!

    The Republicans may be *lucky* that the press is focusing on Mark Foley!

    Cordially, Dana Wilson

    P.S. The oppositions’ signage in the Holladay area simply states in huge letters “Orrin Hatch” … no other text. I read that as “It’s all about ME!”

  2. I’m glad to see that there are others who are thinking about “liberty and justice for all” rather than “liberty and justice for a select few.” I asked “What is America?” last week. It sounds like you have the same view of what America should be as I do. I hope people can hear that and see past the words “Orin Hatch” and “Republican.”

  3. Thanks for this blog, Pete, and for speading the word about Guillermo Colmenero. Somehow, I grew up believing that , for all the evident flaws in our system, our justice system rested on the basic values you discuss–liberty and justice. I don’t recognize “America” in the U.S. lately. We seem to be sacrificing our liberties daily as we call fences justice and torture protection.

    Guillermo Colmenero deserves our solidarity and support.

  4. Pete,

    I too watched Bill Moyers’ Capital Crimes last night. It was unbelievable – the hypocrisy created a stench that is hard to stomach. And as Dana Wilson noted the two experts who commented on what is going on were very pessimistic. And as they both noted little will change until the American people demand a change. In this regard I could find NOTHING in the papers this morning about this program. Nothing in the news. Another item stated during the discussion was that American’s are disgusted by our political process and politicians and this is just what the incumbants want – both Republican and Democrat. There has to be a way to demand these changes and they must be changes in our social fabric, as the experts also pointed out. Congress and the government are merely mirroring the society WE have created. We need people in office like Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico (Hispanic I might add), Dennis Kucinich – D-Ohio; and Pete Ashdown. To see Tom Delay state during his mug shot, Let them see Christ in my face, is unbelievable. Forget about god and Christ. Do the right thing because it is the right thing. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus Christ was a remarkable man and showed us the way. We need to quit worshiping him and just do what he did – care for others. And so now we focus on this Foley person – what a bad, bad person? The fact is he probably needs our help. So where are all the Christians now when a person such as Foley is struggling. Obviously he needs to be removed from office – but now the focus is on Hastert keeping his job, Republican damage control and how the Democrats take advantage. Nothing changes. America continues to walk over the bodies of anyone that gets in the way. When are we going to show the way by being ‘exemplary’ instead of ‘exceptionalists’. Every other country must sign these treaties but not the U.S. Perhaps the Amish, after the terrible event in their midst, will show the rest of the world the way. They will be the exemplary ones.

    Regarding nuclear weapons – who still makes them and uses them this very minute. Battlefield weapons with warheads of depleted uranium are nuclear weapons and they are used every day. Enuf.

  5. The detainee bill is a scar on America, and I’m disheartened that my congressional representative voted for it. I can’t wait to have representation in Washington from an actual Democrat. Go Pete!

  6. The American Government is here to serve Americans first. With Liberty and Justice for all applies only to American Citizens who have earned that right. Let others earn the right first, and then they can enjoy the benefits. I wish you Democrats were as concerned about America as with the rights of those you don’t represent!!

  7. Living in Utah for most of my voting life, I’ve almost exclusively voted for men and women that lost to the majority. I’m hopeful that this fall a vote for you is a vote for a the winning candidate, and you’ll not forget your compassion and view of what America should be focusing on. Good luck Mr. Ashdown.

  8. Democrats ARE concerned with America. But being American shouldn’t a religion. I have faith in the American ideals, but I don’t have blind faith that Bush, because he’s president, will do the right thing. I don’t have blind faith that even though I know mistreating another human being is wrong, it must be ok because Bush wants to do it. I don’t have blind faith that Bush won’t use this as a way to get rid of his political enemies, even though they may never have done anything to deserve what he’s doing. American ideals used to be an example to the world, but the example we’re setting now is one that says “me first, regardless of the consequences”. What we’re saying here is that if you believe you’re on the right side, it’s ok to lock someone up and throw away the key, without so much as telling them why, and on top of that, torture and abuse them. So, in return, someone who is on the other side, against America, could do the same to us, and who are we to say they’re wrong? Right and wrong doesn’t change because of your nationality. How can we go out and enforce human rights in so many other countries, and yet say we don’t have to actually give basic human rights to people because we’re America. Do as I say, and not as I do…. Why are we bothering to give Saddam Hussein a trial, if he has no rights? As evil as anyone can argue that he is, and as much of an obvious war criminal as he is, surely he would qualify to be locked up, tortured and forgotten about. Or could it be Bush’s way of trying to prove a political point. Saddam is a showpiece, to make Americans ignore the fact that we’re not safer because of this war.

    Oh, and one other thing….don’t you earn basic human rights just by being human? I don’t see an exception written out there.

  9. I am more concerned with American education, infrastructure, security and health than what I have seen demonstrated in the past six years. The lack of concentration on domestic issues and fiscal responsibility by the powers that be is a cancer on our nation that we will be treating for a very long time.

    That concern does not override how we treat the rest of the planet, nor does it need to. How we stand for our own ideals abroad is a big part of our security at home. If you believe the executive branch can be trusted not to take their newly bestowed powers and use them stateside, then you are far more trusting of government than I.

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  11. I think the keyword here is tried. I don’t believe anyone should be allowed to come into the USA just because they “tried” and it did not proceed as hoped for and then they slipped in through the back door when without being seen. My ancestors were either here already or came during the various stages of our country’s development (from the Pilgrims to the 1900s). I have ancestors that built and framed this country from the drafting of the Constitution and onward. At those points when immigration was regulated, those entering the country pursued citizenship legally and kept trying until they were accepted. After they became citizens, it was an honor and one that they worked hard to acheive, even when immigration laws did not exist (those that arrived later did face immigration quotas and restrictions). Citizenship was the Holy Grail; to be earned, not stolen. Later, they went on to defended this great country, and at times giving their lives to preserve the blessings gained by hard work and sacrifice so that their children might carry the torch forward.

    It saddens my heart to see people buy into this non-sense. People, when they come to our country, need to respect our borders and our rights as a nation to dictate who may enter and how they may enter, especially in these times of unrest where some people plain and simply want to destroy us. If they desire to enjoy our blessings, then they too can share with us, but only if they do it correctly. Conversely, our own citizens need to defend and maintain our integrity as a nation. Secureing our borders does jsusta and is not a crime against humanity by any means.

    If you study what the term and intent of “With liberty and justice for all”, it is not meant as a blanket to protect those that do not want it nor for those that sneak in the back door just because the legal way is too hard for them. Nor does it apply to an unwelcoming world, or the portions thereof that detest it. Yes, we will hold higher ideals when dealing with these people, that is who we are, and it is our tradition to do so. The term meant is for those that come legally and responsibly, even if not a citizen. It is for those that revel in liberty and take responsibility to uphold justice and libery, no matter their standing or situation. It is not some utopian world-wide slogan to be passed around without merit or thought, nor with the intent to win a Miss World pagent. If access or citizenship becomes too easy and granted without enforcement, it will then become like the proverbial trophy given to every participant in a sport just because they showed up … unvalued, unchampioned, and a thing of naught; leaving us to hold the tattered remains of a once great blessing.

    Images of distress in the media and emails can tug on the ol’ heart strings, but the question is: At what point do we abandon common sense and ration off another piece of our county or security just to appease the personal pain we felt from the story of someone that got caught after being here illegally? Or those that tried to kill us but are put in prison as consequence of their actions? Enforce our laws and make them better where you can Mr. Ashdown. Streamline the immigaration process where applicable. But please, do not listen to the fanciful whims of “men” that are ignorant and/or seek power for themselves, but instead, contemplate the just dealings of the truly noble. That will keep you true. But more importantly, that will keep my vote, now and in the future.

    Mister Ed
    PS – to the the other commentors: why all the confusion on torture, fences and treatment of detainees during times of war? Read the Geneva Convention for yourselves. If anything, we are setting the standard already by applying the Convention to those who violated it in the worst possible ways. No Golden Rule will ever equate to more civility towards us nor our combatants from unjust peoples (in this case, terrorists). The “Golden Rule” dreams are based upon fallacy, in these specific cases. Only strength will deter in the long run, if at all. If you doubt it, study history. Do not fear fences. It’s not a bad thing to enforce a border with a fence. Do you forget what The East Germans did to enforce their borders? They protected theirs with machine guns and mine fields that resulted in hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths over the 5 decades it existed. Our fence is already more civilized, even before it has been built. If ever utopia is achieved, we can then tear the fences down. In the end, we can be strong, and yet at the same time, we can be charitable and ever so welcoming to those that would come to this country seeking refuge and liberty

  12. I dare Mister Ed to go find any Native American (or “Indian”) and ask them what their opinion is on immigration.

  13. Ms. Fowler:

    You forget that WE are the GOOD GUYS and the ones that we are fighting are the ENEMY (read BAD GUYS). Let’s us take care of the good guys (our soldiers, neighbors, and friends) by defeating the bad guys. If that means that the enemy has to be uncomfortable in order to gain the desire to surrender, so be it. The important thing is that WE WIN. We do that by being united, supporting our leaders, and doing all we can to force the ENEMY to surrender. To paraphrase General Patton — we don’t want to die for our country; we want the Enemy to die for their country. MIGHT MAKES RIGHT!!!!!

  14. Did you know that Mexico is one of our largest lenders? For that deficit thang, ya know. it’s right up there with China and Japan and Korea. That means all those illegal immigrants from Mexico are sending money home so that the government of Mexico can finance our massive debt which we’re in because of the stupid tax cuts given by the Bush administration. Kinda makes you cross-eyed thinking about it.

    So… Bush cuts taxes for rich guys 5 times since he’s been in office. We’re over 8 trillion dollars in debt and our misnamed Wars are being paid for by Mexico, China, Japan, and Korea. Because these countries own our ass, they’ll send all the illegal immigrants into the country that they want to, and we’ll continue to be ineffective in dealing with them because you don’t mess with the bankers, right?

    And… as we approach our demographic transformation from a nation of mostly young and middle aged people to a nation of old folks, there’s this social security thingy going on. Not enough little worker bees are being born to support me until I’m 85 and the Bush administration has screwed the social security system into bankruptcy. BUT WAIT.. we can let illegal immigrants in and they will work under assumed names and IDs and never, ever be able to claim social security and they will contribute to our economy by keeping it moving. Oh darn those rotten little immigrants… how dare they pay rent, buy food, clothes, cars, while they are here. Let’s take and ship their rotten little selves back to whereever they came from.

    This issue is so complex that any time I hear pre-digested crap being spun as talking points I want to hurl. Certainly there are concerns about illegal immigrants taking jobs here — I know of a tile contractor who is almost out of business because he can’t compete against people working cheaper and under the table. But then you have to ask, who’s hiring the illegals. They sure aren’t getting all the jobs. The illustrious government has made it incredibly attractive to ship thousands of jobs overseas. The companies that remain can’t compete internationally because they provide workers with decent wages and healthcare costs… and we all know how diligently congress is working on healthcare costs, don’t we. But, it is the fault of the illegal immigrants right? Only if you like Kool Aid.

    It’s like the War on Drugs which supports the state of Florida. There will never be decriminalization of drugs because it provides too much income to the government. Situations like the current immigration crisis don’t arise in a vacuum.

    Illegal immigrants wouldn’t be here if market forces didn’t create the need for them. The rest is just politicians playing with the simple minds of the gullible and uneducated. Follow the money, Grasshopper.


  15. utahgirl,

    market forces create needs for immigration and expansion (or the flip side when negatively inclined). Market forces do not create illegal immigrants. Those unwilling to obey laws and think they are entitled or that “everyone else is doing it” then break the laws and become illegals and/or promote illegal immigration. Blaming businesses and consumers are only part of the problem. Blame belongs to weak politicians that will not make a stand and make enforcement possible.

    Tax cuts from the Guberment, have actually produced better statistics than the periods immediately preceeding those cuts. Blaming Bush for lowering taxes to create illegal immigration is illogical and emotionally based spin. Nor does saying that it was for the “rich” only amount to anything substantial. In this last case, taxes goes down, guberment revenues go up… from more spending and capital expansions… then this filters economy wide. Do folks still fail or hit upon hard times? The answer is: Yes, they do. However, blaming tax cuts from another party is not the answer, especially when they have resulted in a stronger economy and higher revenues in the guberment coffers.

    On war on drugs: decrimilizing drugs will not solve that situation either. That results in a validation of a person’s weakness of character by seeking refuge from personal accountability by hiding in drug-induced fantasy.

    On social security: this bankrupting started long before Bush or Clinton came into power. It will become bankrupt unless practices and entitlements change. No amount of immigrants can solve this cash flow problem (unless we are over-run, but then at some point everyone in the world would have to pay into SS and then at some point we’d be inthe same jam… going bankrupt). Change the system and change the ideas of personal accountability for retirement years and that will solve the problem.

    When attacking an opponent’s points or failing, know the history of your attacking counter-points as best you can. Blindly using such points will result in looking very silly.

    Mister Ed
    PS – von Zempter must not have caught my whole comment in regards to my ancestors.

  16. Great website, and great blog. I can tell you that as a Sailor, serving on the ground in Afghanistan I really wish we had more sensible politicians running for office such as yourself. I am from Pennsylvania, but I track politcs pretty closely, and I think we need a lot more like you in this great country of ours.

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