Writings and observations

On his website Butch Otter, the Republican nominee for governor of Idaho, has an intriguing internal link which raises at least one question, maybe two, for this notably philosophical candidate.

The link is to an essay on “The Proper Role of Government,” which as it turns out is not written by Otter – which would be worth his writing and our reading – but by Ezra Taft Benson, former leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The web site notes that it was reposted “In response to popular demand,” though it may have been intended as well to build bridges to Mormon eastern Idaho. Its positioning in the site suggests that Otter endorses its views, though the site doesn’t specifically say so. (Note that we don’t ordinarily get into matters of church doctrine – the subject comes up here because Otter’s campaign has injected it so prominently.)

In re-reading the piece (it has circulated widely since 1968), we were struck by one passage especially, in which Benson quotes a church document, the Doctrine and Covenants:

“(I) believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, which protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.” (D&C 134: 1-2,5)

So, a question of the candidate: A couple, actually. Was the American Revolution – a revolt against the established government of English – wrong? And were Iraqis who cooperated with Americans in the overthrow and defeat of Saddam Hussein wrong to do so?

Just wondering.

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Idaho

Single-line quotes are so apt to be taken out of context that you have to be careful with them. But this one by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire was startling: “Washington is more like a small nation than a state.”

Governor Chris GregoireThe context was the recent spate of visits to the state by foreign leaders: Hu of China, Fox of Mexico and (she was announcing) Rasmussen of Denmark, and the comment was a reference to the latter’s visit.

Also, allowing Stefan Sharkansky’s easy snark, “Yes, but which small nation?
Cuba? Turkmenistan? Honduras?”

But, more substantively, it provides backdrop for the governor’s more recent statements on national security.

She said (to be sure, much as California’s Arnold Schwartznegger has done) that should not send Washington national guard troops to the Mexican border – that Washingtonians need the security help at home.

Then there was the concern expressed over the reports about North Korean rockets, powerful enough to reach the American west coast. That triggered an unusual call for getting out of Iraq.

And then, the Seattle Times David Postman quotes her as saying this:

“I’m disturbed by what we’re hearing. It is not the news that I think any of us should have to hear from North Korea and I want Washingtonians to understand the security risks to the nation and to us, but to understand that we’ve got to remain ever diligent and I ask every Washingtonian to be smart about their own personal security, and again any time they see something that raises a concern they get to law enforcement right away.”

Has all this been just an odd confluence of statements, or are we seeing some new direction in the Gregoire Administration?

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Washington