trumpkimletter

Source: The White House, Washington D.C.

 

 

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fallenrome

It isn’t terribly provocative to note that the modern West seems to be going to way of other great civilizations trending towards decadence, corruption and immorality.  The West has more riches, more technology and more freedoms than ever before in the history of humanity.  Yet we seem content to follow in the footsteps of those great nations and empires who inevitably declined.  Why?

This week’s readings offer a view of how we have chosen for ourselves the means of our own decline.

Perhaps the most well known recent discussion of this problem is Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s essay, “Defining Deviancy Down.”  While focused on crime and family disfunction, it has a broader application to how the West has chosen to redefine conduct previously stigmatized as “abnormal” to be instead “normal” behavior.  This change in cultural norms, of course, has far reaching consequences.

This model can be applied to many aspects of modern life including politics (courtesy Daniel J. Flynn), sexual proclivity (courtesy Gary DeMar), religion (courtesy Daniel Jang) or even specific social choices such as abortion or torture (courtesy Mark Shea).  Together this “defining down,” or as previous generations would describe it, immorality, results in negative consequences for both individual and society.  If unchecked, the downward spiral continues until those virtues that made a group or nation successful are no more.

 

 

johnkate

Oregon’s last governor, John Kitzhaber, served three and a quarter terms before he was forced to resign.  Governor Kitzhaber violated state laws against conflict of interest, misused his office for financial gain and improperly received gifts, and was fined $20,000 as civil penalty to settle 10 violations of state ethics law.  (No federal criminal charges were filed against the governor.)

The current governor, Kate Brown, seems to be walking in the footsteps of her predecessor.  Two of Governor Brown’s chiefs of staff had to resign due to violations of state ethics law.  Governor Brown had to amend her lobbying disclosure report after she falsely claimed $0 spent.  Governor Brown has used state funds to pay for private expenses such as her Oregon State Bar membership and personal items.  A recent independent report shows that Governor Brown has redacted an exceptionally large number of items (nearly 4000 items) from her state calendar while in office.  Most disturbing, the governor has received hundreds of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions from vendors who hold state contracts worth millions.

There seems to be a familiar pattern developing.  Hopefully, Oregon voters are paying attention.

culturalrevolution

“Good news, comrades!  The party’s just beginning, as a great leap forward in technology will make our lives better and safer. Whether YouTube’s Trusted Flaggers, Facebook’s Trusted Sources or Twitter’s Trust & Safety Council, you now can rest easy that your eyes and ears will be protected from wrong-thinking and dangerous-leaning ideas.  Through technology, we will help you be a good corporate citizen and do no harm.  We will not allow any hate speech, violent imagery, misrepresentation, terrorist propaganda and disinformation that violates our Community Standards.  How are these standards defined?  By us, of course.  (Why are you asking?  That seems suspicious to me.)

True, a few deplorables will lose their right to speak their minds.  But if we have to lop off a few undesirable free-speech sites, so be it.   (I didn’t hear you applaud.  You want to applaud, don’t you? I think I may have to report you for not living up to Community Standards.)”

manreading_johnsingersargent

You won’t read it in NY Times or see it on CNN, but we’re having a bit of positive news lately including: