Saturday, July 31, 2010

Published at PJM: The Crisis That Wasn't

Another of my articles has been published at Pajamas Media:

Here's an excerpt:

"Several news reports are showing that the expected devastation of the waters and shoreline of the Gulf simply hasn’t happened. Early (and historical) evidence suggests that it never will. The oil slicks expected to last for months have failed to cooperate with the government’s desire to use the crisis to pass cap and tax."

I also discuss the media reaction and a bit of oil spill history for comparison.

I invite you to read, comment, and pass the link onto friends and contacts.


P.S. Not that there's anything wrong with a bit of earned pride, but not to worry about my recent good fortune giving me a swelled head. Right after it was accepted I went outside to pick weeds and chase a gopher out of one of the gardens. That sort of thing tends to keep one grounded.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anarchists Block Arizona Hwy

An anarchist group claims responsibility for stringing a banner — composed of tires, glass shards, and more — across I-19 in Arizona.
After Judge Susan Bolton blocked the most controversial parts of SB 1070, essentially taking out all real power from the bill, a group known as "Freedom for Arizona," committed an act of domestic terrorism by spreading out over 15 tires connected by rope and covered in tar, a banner, brown paint and shards of broken glass across I-19 in Arizona, a busy interstate with a 65 mph speed limit covering approximately 70 miles between Tucson and Nogales.

This action not only stopped all traffic flow, but could have killed innocent people in the process.

The goal of the tires, glass and paint was to stop all deportations back to Mexico as well as stopping all capital flow to damage the economy. The banner placed across the interstate read, "Stop All Militarization! The Border is Illegal!"
I don't know that I'd call this terrorism, but it's definitely loony. If it weren't so sick it would be funny.

Wars in the Middle East are the reason for mass emigration from Mexico? Land legally purchased over 150 years ago from Mexico and incorporated into the United States for a century has an illegal border?

These people are not only lunatics, they are - as is usual with this type - indifferent to facts. With luck the perpetrators of this horrific stunt will wind up in jail for reckless endangerment.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Prof. Rahe on Parties and Principles

Dr. Paul Rahe, author of Soft Despotism, offers a history lesson at Big Government on political parties, principles, and more. Dr. Rahe — who, not coincidentally, happens to be one of the country's experts on Montesquieu — knows whereof he speaks. He uses the historical background to illustrate the perpetual struggle for power that takes place in D.C., then offers a few choice words on what we face now.

Here's an excerpt:
As Codevilla and I have argued in different but complementary ways, what is required is a return to first principles carried out at the ballot box and enforced on the hapless hacks in the Republican Party by a public sentiment fierce, fully aroused, and no longer willing to tolerate half measures.

What is needed is a peaceful revolution that restores civil equality, that does away with “affirmative action” and protected legal categories, that eliminates the redistributionist apparatus imposed upon us gradually over the last century, that eventuates in a principled rejection of government subsidies of every kind, and that restores to the states and the localities the prerogatives that are rightly theirs.

Anything short of this will merely slow down our gradual descent into servitude.
The entire post is well worth a read.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Voegeli On FDR and Rights, Natural and Invented

William Voegeli, author of Never Enough, America's Limitless Welfare State, has a few words of insight about FDR's view of rights.
In 1932, FDR stated that under the social contract laid out in the Declaration of Independence, “rulers were accorded power, and the people consented to that power on consideration that they be accorded certain rights. The task of statesmanship has always been the re-definition of these rights in terms of a changing and growing social order.”

Unlike the rights described in the Declaration, however, there is nothing natural or inalienable about the ones described by FDR: They’re not yours to begin with, and statesmen and historical changes can always alter, augment, or rescind them.

By 1944, the social order had changed and grown enough for the statesman Roosevelt to explicitly redefine Americans’ rights to include jobs, housing, medical care, education — in short, a “Second Bill of Rights,” all of which “spell security.”

That can’t be the last word, however; the prospect of future changes in the social order causes FDR to urge the recognition of “these and similar rights.”

The governmental right to discover new rights could, for instance, someday lead to the development endorsed by FDR’s National Public Resources Board in 1943, when it called for recognizing the right to “rest, recreation and adventure.”

Who among us would disdain citizenship in that Club Med polity where safaris and sea cruises are guaranteed as a matter of right, where we might awaken any day to find that the changing social order has left us yet another shiny new entitlement in the driveway?

The problem is that it turns out to be impossible to elevate every social-policy goal to a right without reducing every right to just one more policy goal.

In 1994, the Clinton Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) enforcement of the Fair Housing Act was so zealous that it demanded that groups opposed to new homeless shelters or drug-treatment facilities in their neighborhoods turn over to federal investigators (who were seeking evidence of discriminatory motives or attitudes) every article, flier, or letter to the editor their leaders had written, as well as the minutes of every public meeting they addressed.

The HUD assistant secretary called upon to defend this thuggery compressed six decades of liberal rhetoric into a single op-ed, which explained how the department had to “walk a tightrope between free speech and fair housing. We are ever mindful of the need to maintain the proper balance between these rights.” [emphasis added]
The entire article is long, and somewhat overwritten, but worth a read for those interested in how we got here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Harriet Frishmuth Saved My Life

The might Peter Cresswell has been good enough to (re)publish my short essay on the life and work of sculptress Harriet Frishmuth. An excerpt,
Harriet Whitney Frishmuth (1880-1980) is relatively unknown today, yet during her active period she was one of the most widely known and highly admired artists of the time. Her joyous depiction of the female nude, usually in dynamic poses drawn from dance movements, is the epitome of romantic realism in sculpture.
Read the rest, here.

I'll just add a little personal anecdote here. I first became acquainted with Frishmuth's work by seeing The Vine in the sculpture garden at UCLA as an undergraduate. It wasn't in the best shape, but it was manna from heaven to me, especially under the circumstances.

Then, as now, the university was dominated by postmodern Leftists — at the time mostly explicit communists. (It was still fashionable then, at least on campus, to tell the plain truth about one's political philosophy.) Not surprisingly, the sculpture garden was filled with the most revolting 'modern' dreck, mostly either inchoate lumps of metal or chaotic piles of metal pipes posing as art.

Frishmuth's piece stood out like a healthy body amid a lot of diseased sore thumbs.

Later, I learned The Metropolitan Museum in New York had a version in their American Wing. When I lived in Manhattan I'd spend entire Saturdays strolling through the collection, and I always took considerable time drinking in The Vine. (A big chunk of the rest was reserved for the Sargents (especially Mr. And Mrs. Phelps Stokes) and Vermeer's Girl With a Pearl Earring, along with Gerome's Pygmalion and Galatea and a few others.)

This story is apropos nothing in particular, except to say that art helped saved my soul as a young man. It still does today. Whenever the insanity of the world we live in becomes overbearing, a few minutes or hours with some of the treasures of the past (and a precious few in the present) helps me recover my deep sense that life is good.

Take a long look through the works at the Metropolitan and it may do the same for you.

Mr. and Mrs. Phelps Stokes, 1897

Pygmalion and Galatea, 1890

Monday, July 26, 2010

Milton Friedman on 'Jobs Programs'

A clever anecdote showing that Milton Friedman had his moments, for sure.
About 40 years ago he found himself in an Asian country where the government was extremely eager to show off a public works project of which it was inordinately and excessively fond. It was digging a canal.

They took Milton out to see this, and he was astonished because there were hordes of workers but no heavy equipment.

He remarked on this to his government guide, who replied, "You don't understand, Mr. Friedman. This is a jobs program. That's why we only have men with shovels."

To which Friedman said, "Well, if it's a jobs program, why don't they have spoons instead of shovels?"
That simple bit of Bastian logic*, if adhered to consistently, would eliminate half the Federal government's welfare programs right there.

*(By which I mean, looking only at the immediately visible effects, rather than the whole...)

[Apologies to whomever I got this from for not recording the link, but thanks!]

Scary Fact of the Day

According to an anonymous writer at American Spectator,
According to a Department of Homeland Security source, virtually all federal employees deployed to work on the BP oil spill now possess DHS email addresses, regardless of which agency they work for, to ensure coordination. "We are going to keep all of these people on the ground there as long as it is deemed necessary," says the DHS source. "If that's through January 2013, then so be it."
I don't know about you, but that sends a chill up my spine. The Department of Homeland Security as a central organizing department of the Federal Government? Maybe they should have named it the SchutzStaffel instead...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

"Obama's Sunny Fantasy" Published at PJM

I've just had an article published at Pajamas Media. I invite you all to read it, comment, and pass the word to everyone you know.

I'll be eternally grateful, or at least until I'm dead since – after the passage of ObamaCare – the odds of medical experts being able to thaw my frozen head and reattach it to an indestructible android body are now considerably less. [Thanks Jonah Goldberg for generating a great line to steal adapt.]

Here's how it begins...
Obama has now committed $2 billion more of the taxpayers’ money to pursue his solar energy fantasy...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Art Break: Lady Agnew

After another week of bad news from Washington — and to celebrate some really good news at my house — now is a great time for a little art break. So, without further ado, one of my all-time favorites. The Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, by John Singer Sargent.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Rangel Charged With Ethics Violations


Far too late, and far too little, but it's something. It's just too bad he's not facing jail time, as he richly deserves.

Sen. Tom Coburn on Kagan's Nomination

Sen. Tom Coburn has a few choice words to say on Elena Kagan's SCOTUS nomination. He concludes, rightly, that she shouldn't be approved.
In her testimony, it was clear that Kagan subscribes to the progressive view that the wrongly decided precedents of the Supreme Court are more important the clear intent of the Constitution.

Does anyone seriously believe that when the Founders gathered in Philadelphia 220 years ago they were aspiring to control the buying decisions of individual consumers from Washington? They were arguing for the opposite and implored future Courts to slap down any law from Congress that expanded the Commerce Clause.

In “Federalist Paper 45,” James Madison wrote: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined.” The Supreme Court has repeatedly turned a blind eye when Congress exceeded its authority under the Commerce Clause. As a result, the federal government can control practically every aspect of our lives.

For instance, in the 1942 case Wickard v. Filburn, the Supreme Court decided that a farmer in Ohio, Roscoe Filburn, had to cease growing wheat to feed his chicken because he didn’t have permission from Congress. As a matter of law, we aren’t far from regulating American’s eating habits.

Kagan refused to answer the substance of my question. Her answers indicated she would support the big-government policies that created our $13 trillion debt and the welfare state that is collapsing into a fiscal black hole.

Even more troubling was Kagan’s refusal to say whether she believed in the principle of natural rights contained in the Declaration of Independence. Kagan told me, “I don’t have a view of what are natural rights independent of the Constitution.”
The good senator is one politician who gets it. Would that there were at least 65 more in the Senate (and 300 in the House) who did.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Classic Film Review: In Love and War

In Love and War is a 1958 Jerry Wald production starring Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner, and Bradford Dillman, co-starring France Nguyen, Hope Lange, and Dana Wynter.

Superb performances, fine direction, and outstanding production values raise a generally weak script to classic status. Similar in some respects to 1956's D-Day, The Sixth of June, starring Robert Taylor and Dana Wynter - split between a love story and a war movie – In Love and War is more equally divided than that slightly earlier film.

The first half follows three WWII-era Marines on a brief leave in San Francisco just prior to shipping out overseas. Bradford Dillman portrays a rich, educated 'idealist' at odds with his wealthy father. Robert Wagner is a poor Irish kid emulating his drunken dead father's ways. Jeffrey Hunter is a true-blue jarhead who marries his pregnant girlfriend during his stay. All three will be changed by the war, mostly for the better.

Like the men, the women they meet and love are all stereotypes but played with such excellence one doesn't mind. It's a Jerry Wald picture, after all, and one expects, even cheers, the soap opera quality he perfected in the late 50s.

The second half shows the men before and during battle on a Japanese held Pacific island, with scenes interjected at random of the girls they left behind.

Bradford Dillman is dull as always, but the character would make him so regardless. France Nguyen shines as his love interest in a small part full of pathos and tenderness. Dana Wynter delivers in a character quite unlike most she played, here as a needy, self-pitying, rich wastrel trying to reform (but not very hard). Robert Wagner shows that even as a very young man he had true star quality. Jeffrey Hunter is solid and intense, showing just what a loss his early demise was to the history of films. Hope Lange tears at the heart with every line and look in a letter perfect performance as his young bride.

The heartrending nature of the last scene in particular is alone worth the whole movie combined, but there are many good moments beforehand. For fans of late 50s/early 60s soap opera films (see below) there are few better.

The production values are first rate, as was typical with Jerry Wald productions during this period. The saturated colors are rich, oozing with that unique period's Technicolor values. The sets and costumes are stellar. If you've seen Peyton Place, The Long, Hot Summer, or The Best of Everything you know the look. Everything has that brand-new look, even when the scene is one of a dilapidated house or a foxhole.

A bit long at 1 hr 46 min, the look and the performers nonetheless hold you the entire time without becoming bored. The story lacks forward motion, so the pleasure comes chiefly from the scenery, the actors, and the heart-on-a-sleeve style common to the genre. To paraphrase Yogi Berra: if you like this sort of movie, this is the sort of movie you'll like.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Daily Assault, Episode 545

And now for yet another attack on the free market from the folks who keep on giving:
President Obama plans to press Congress today to pass pay-equity legislation that would make it easier for women to sue employers who pay them less than their male counterparts, the White House said Monday.
Never mind that, adjusted for experience, absence from the workplace due to child bearing, and other factors, the pay differential largely disappears. Even to Pragmatists, such utilitarian arguments fall on deaf ears. And why not? The faux concern for 'equity' is just one more cover story. The only thing that matters to them is chaining businesses and the individuals who own them.

In their eyes, it's justified. After all, of what importance are minor concerns like Fifth Amendment protections against takings, First Amendment guarantees of free association, Article I, Section 10 protections of contract, and so forth? Social justice trumps all!

Of course, as it always works out in practice, 'social' justice invariably squeezes out the individual variety, such as the rights of property and voluntary trade.

I confess that even my paranoid, right-wing imagination is running out of ways the Feds could move us even further toward totalitarianism without openly sending out Black Shirt goon squads. Oh, wait! Holder has already authorized the New Black Panthers to cover that.

What will it be next? Cap and Trade? A New Fairness Doctrine? Coerced community service? Legislated equal hiring at gyms for obese people (provided they agree to lose weight on a Federal schedule, of course)?

All those trial balloons have been floated (and, in some ways, are already in place.) Your guess is as good as mine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Obama Earns a Second Nobel

"Politicians lie" is not exactly a novel observation. But there are liars, and then there are practitioners who deserve a Nobel Prize in Prevarication.

During the debate over ObamaCare many raised Constitutional concerns over the individual mandate. Most supporters of the bill said the Feds had the authority under the now-infinitely elastic Interstate Commerce Clause. (Thank you Supreme Court for Wickard v Filburn!) Now that solid arguments are being raised in legal proceedings against that view, they're switching their tunes to calling it a tax.

Surprising only Joe Biden, the Administration now says,
“The Commerce Clause supplies sufficient authority for the shared-responsibility requirements in the new health reform law,” Mr. Pfeiffer [WH Communications Director] said. “To the extent that there is any question of additional authority — and we don’t believe there is — it would be available through the General Welfare Clause.”

The law describes the levy on the uninsured as a “penalty” rather than a tax. The Justice Department brushes aside the distinction, saying “the statutory label” does not matter. The constitutionality of a tax law depends on “its practical operation,” not the precise form of words used to describe it, the department says, citing a long line of Supreme Court cases."
Piling irony on irony, a progressive legal organization that calls itself the American Constitution Society, responds:
Mr. Obama “has not been honest with the American people about the nature of this bill,” Mr. Balkin said last month at a meeting of the American Constitution Society, a progressive legal organization. “This bill is a tax. Because it’s a tax, it’s completely constitutional.
Actually, even that argument is mistaken. The Federal government (apart from the explicitly authorized Income Tax, via the 16th Amendment) has no constitutional authority to tax for actions involving non-enumerated powers.

Says who? Well, James Madison, for one. (I figure he ought to know.) Madison said,
To refer the power in question to the clause "to provide for common defense and general welfare" would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation, as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause nugatory and improper.

Such a view of the Constitution would have the effect of giving to Congress a general power of legislation instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them, the terms "common defense and general welfare" embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust.
[He was objecting to a bill proposing the Federal Government fund the building of roads and canals, but the principle is valid in this other context.]

Given a disagreement between two Constitutional scholars — James Madison and Barack Obama — I think I'm going to have to side with James.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How Environmentalists Think

Sunlight is a good disinfectant. It's cheap, non-polluting, and the UV radiation kills a wide variety of nasty critters. So, how about we outlaw all antibiotic drugs? Well, to be reasonable, let's limit the legislation to disallowing just topical treatments, at least until we can figure out how to get sunlight inside the body.

Just a thought.

45 Years of Taxpayer Rape the name of social engineering.

If you're in the mood to be outraged, check out this graph
of Federal spending from the past 45 years, distinguished by party. (From John Hindraker of Powerline.) And the chart doesn't even include the huge spike of the past two years.

Another graph, with opposite slope, could well depict the decrease in liberty over that same period. This is no coincidence.

View it and weep.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The NAACP, Wrong From the Start

Andrew Breitbart is a very clever fellow. He's lined up a dozen credentialed commentators of African descent to condemn the NAACP's recent labeling of the Tea Party movement as racist. [Big Government, July 15.] Many of the articles, like Deroy Murdock's, are outstanding. Still, most of the writers make the same mistake. They fall all over themselves to assert something along the lines of "while the NAACP once did great work..."

Nothing could be further from the truth. The NAACP has always been a bunch of collectivists and statists. It's true that some members of the NAACP fought real evils, sometimes risking life and limb. But the name alone is enough to demonstrate that the organization has been collectivist of the racial variety from its beginning.

The organization was founded in 1909 by, among others, W.E.B Du Bois. The communist Du Bois opposed Booker Washington's efforts at social integration of the races. (He also wrote: "Joseph Stalin was a great man; few other men of the 20th century approach his stature.") The group soon attracted notable Progressives like Jane Addams and John Dewey.

They might have started an organization to stand up for individual rights for everyone and, if desired, simply focus for a time on Jim Crow laws in the South and the like. They chose otherwise because the leaders of the NAACP were just as collectivistic as their enemies (not surprisingly given the presence of individuals like Dewey). It has always engaged in identity politics.

(In theory, the organization is for all 'colored' people, but has always focused chiefly on blacks. They initially called themselves the National Negro Committee.)

Today, descendants of Africans — many of whose ancestors never saw a moment's slavery or even American prejudice — frequently get preference in hiring and college admission. They often get away with the most outrageous statements simply in virtue of their skin color, words that would see any descendant of a Northern European lose his job in a heartbeat.

It's long been widely recognized — and just as widely ignored — that Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and a host of other American descendants of Africans have played the race card to fame and riches. It's ignored because three generations of Progressives cleared the way for them to say anything they like without consequences. Such is the inevitable consequence of treating individuals as morally significant solely in virtue of membership in a group, i.e. of collectivism. It is Hegel's legacy.

Well, with the latest NAACP announcement, the hustlers have finally crossed the line and are seeing a backlash. They know there's not a shred of evidence that the Tea Party movement has any appreciable number of, and certainly no sympathy whatever for, racists. If they did, it would be all over the New York Times, CBS, and every other major outlet.

In fact, the evidence in the other direction is stark and overwhelming, and not just in the Tea Parties. Today, almost no one is denied a job, a home, an education, or even friendship on the basis of race. Sure, racists still exist. There will always be a few troglodytes around, even in the best of countries. But there simply is no large-scale, institutionalized racism in America any more, except against the descendants of Europeans (and even that is usually minor).

So, unlike some, I'm pretty happy that the NAACP finally outed itself in an unmistakable way. It's belatedly getting the tongue lashing it has long deserved. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch of racists.

[P.S. Given everything I've written over the years, the following should go without saying. But, being a realist, I know I have to add this clarification.

No racist son of a bitch should now feel free to jump into the comment section and start banging on 'darkies'... or yellowies or brownies or Jews (or Irishmen, Poles, or Italians to cite three more groups who endured a great deal of prejudice in the early 20th century, never reported today).

I am not your ally. I am not your friend. You are just as collectivist as the NAACP and you should go to hell just as fast as they. I hold with a statement imputed to Andrew Klavan: the good thing about racism is it lets you know clearly who the scumbags are.]

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Freedom Train, Round Trip or Last Run?

"Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose" is one of the few French phrases the average American might know. It translates to: the more things change, the more they stay the same. While it expresses a profound truth, it's not always true. Some things really do change profoundly, and not always for the better.

The following song, The Freedom Train, is a foremost example. It's almost inconceivable that a song with these lyrics could get mainstream airplay today. Then again, who knows? Maybe in a few years, if the Tea Party movement continues to grow, even this stellar work of Irving Berlin may see a Renaissance.

[Performed here by Peggy Lee, Johnny Mercer, Margaret Whiting, and — one of the most popular groups of the period — The Pied Pipers, all backed by the superb Paul Weston Orchestra. Available on the albums Peggy Lee, Lost '40s and '50s Capitol Masters and also The Pied Pipers compilation, Dreams From the Sunny Side of the Street.]

Extending the BP Crisis

Never let a crisis go to waste, and it if looks like it may, extend it.
BP announced on Thursday evening that it had successfully capped the Deepwater Horizon oil well for the first time since April.
Although oil has stopped leaking into the ocean, [Obama] has urged Americans not to "get too far ahead of ourselves".
Translation: "I'm not through exploiting this crisis, which I helped to worsen in every way imaginable."

This guy makes Eeyore look like Pollyanna.

Update: Gov. Jindal of Louisiana takes the Federal Government to task for its slow, inept response at combating the spill and its fast, inept response in putting thousands out of work with a needless moratorium, then - after losing in court - doubling down on yet another.

So, my state joined a lawsuit against the moratorium. We pointed out that a majority of the experts the federal government consulted before the ban, including representatives from the National Academy of Engineering, have stated publicly that they do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium.

The court sided with the people of Louisiana in this matter. Consider the judge's statements: that the federal moratorium would result in the loss of jobs and livelihoods, that the government's action "does not seem to be fact-specific" and that the "government's hair-splitting explanation abuses reason and common sense."

The entire article is well worth a read.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Republic Rests On the Knife's Edge

Predicting the future is always a tricky business. Still, some assertions are on safe ground. One obvious one is that unless Federal spending is drastically reduced, and soon, we're in deep trouble as a nation. No country is immune from the Greece endpoint and unless things change in a big way, we'll reach it within a generation.

We're one step closer to that thanks to a fact advertised recently by Edward Lazear, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush:
We’ll hit a 70% debt to GDP ratio by around 2013. Those kinds of numbers mean that in the very near future the U.S. government will be spending more on servicing its debt than it spends on national defense.
Think about that for a minute. The Federal government (i.e., in the final analysis, the taxpayers) will soon spend more on interest payments than on the means to secure us from foreign threats.

Fortunately, not all is gloom and doom. Rep. Eric Cantor is leading a crusade to reverse, or at least slow, the trend.

Will he succeed? Not entirely. Republican Congressmen are far too morally weak to really do what's necessary and November isn't likely to radically change that. There's no broad movement yet for seriously curtailing Social Security and Medicare expenditures, for example. Those twin "third rails" everyone is still afraid to touch still account for over 40% of the Federal Pie.

Serious as Dr. Lazear's point is, interest currently accounts for 'only' 6% of the total. Even just shifting the focus, though, can have a big impact on the number one economic problem we now face: paralyzing uncertainty generated by lack of confidence in the future. Banks and businesses are holding trillions in cash reserves they won't lend or invest. They have no idea what impoverishing club Obama and his cronies are likely to whack them with next.

There's something more important than politicians' tepid efforts at fiscal responsibility, though: the awakening among the American electorate, now in its second year and growing. If enough voters come to realize not only are the Democrats spending us into oblivion, but the current Republican leadership is too accommodating, things will change for the better.

There are signs that's happening, and fast. Candidates espousing fiscal sanity are making serious inroads against even long-seated and well-funded incumbents in both parties. Some of them are apparently sincere. Politicians like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Minnesota's Rep. Michelle Bachmann are vilified by the left-leaning press (i.e. just about all of them), but pretty popular with their constituencies. They're inspiring Tea Party-favored candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada.

More hopeful still is the fact that the new enlightenment centers not fundamentally on money, but liberty and support for the Constitution. Tea Partiers know that the Feds are not just spending more than they should, but regulating where they should not. The money we're spending to Federally fund programs that should be private — absurdly large as it is — is still modest compared to the locked-up potential of a free, productive people.

That exercise doesn't require any statistics. Consider East and West Germany up to the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Compare China now, halting as its steps toward freedom are, to China 30 years ago. Liberty is good, even glorious. But it's also highly practical. The more people get, the more they benefit from it, leading to a virtuous cycle.

Americans are beginning to realize once again their chief asset: freedom. That's a good sign because it will take more than engaging personalities and nice-sounding phrases during a couple of elections to create big improvements in the face of fierce Progressive opposition.

Shaving Leviathan readers already know that, but it's not a view that's universally shared, however much lip service it may receive. Without sound ideas, Americans are helpless in the face of the first Marxist who asserts "a hungry man is not free."

Those ideas will have to be more than a repetition of patriotic bromides, too. The generation before the Founders and the Founders themselves had to do far more than simply repeat the words "freedom is good." They had to prove it with argument and example, written and lived. This they did, in pamphlet after pamphlet beginning long before the publication of the Declaration of Independence.

As Adams noted, "The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 - 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington."

The situation is serious, but not hopeless. Everything depends on how large, and how deep, the Renaissance really is — and that remains to be seen. And, if we're successful, there will be no need to shed anyone's blood. If we succeed, we'll have achieved something no nation on earth has managed, not even our own: a bloodless revolution to restore freedom.

Will we, though? Personally, I'm betting on the wisdom of the American people. I have to. It's the only game in town.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

False Alternative #493: Minds Open or Closed

Ayn Rand on the issue of an 'open' mind.
"[There is a] dangerous little catch phrase which advises you to keep an 'open mind.' This is a very ambiguous term—as demonstrated by a man who once accused a famous politician of having 'a wide open mind.'

That term is an anti-concept: it is usually taken to mean an objective, unbiased approach to ideas, but it is used as a call for perpetual skepticism, for holding no firm convictions and granting plausibility to anything.

A 'closed mind' is usually taken to mean the attitude of a man impervious to ideas, arguments, facts and logic, who clings stubbornly to some mixture of unwarranted assumptions, fashionable catch phrases, tribal prejudices—and emotions.

But this is not a 'closed' mind, it is a passive one. It is a mind that has dispensed with (or never acquired) the practice of thinking or judging, and feels threatened by any request to consider anything."

Ayn Rand, Philosophy, Who Needs It

Or, as I like to put it, an open mind is like an open trash can. People put garbage in it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another Snowe Job

Olympia Snowe has for years been the very quintessence of the RINO. Running true to form, she said of her support for the Dodd Fin-Reg bill:
To ensure we avoid another financial catastrophe such as the one that plunged our nation into the worst recession since the Great Depression, it is imperative that we implement an aggressive overhaul of the American financial regulatory system.

And this effort must include real and substantial consequences for those whose reckless actions caused the crisis in the first place while guaranteeing the transparency and accountability of taxpayer dollars.
So, we can expect to see Barney Frank, Christopher Dodd, Franklin Raines (CEO of Fannie Mae), and the rest of the long line of "those whose reckless actions caused the crisis" fired and in jail soon?

Don't bet on it. And don't bet on Sen. Snowe Job even mentioning the Federal Government's substantial role in creating the conditions that continue to plague us, a disease Dodd's bill doesn't even try to address.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Mysterious Egalitarian Impulse

Donald Berwick, Obama's pick to head Medicare, is a big fan of the British National Health Service, that disastrous socialized medicine program turning a once-great nation into a Soviet hospital ward. It gets worse. He's quoted in a recent WSJ editorial as having had this to say:
[A]ny health-care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized and humane must — must — redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate.
Probably more evil statements than this have emanated from the Administration in the past 18 months — the worst of them no doubt by Cass Sunstein. But this one will do. No wonder Obama made Berwick a recess appointment to avoid any Senate debate about his views.

With all the history and philosophy I've studied over the past forty years, it still astounds me how a human being can so blithely ignore the property rights of innocent citizens. I mean, isn't that the sort of idea Americans are supposed to be fed with mother's milk? It's equally amazing how someone could fail to grasp the obvious contradiction in any form of coerced charity. Maybe I should've studied less of those subjects and more psychology, because this I truly do not understand.

Maybe it's just as someone once said: "anyone who wishes to deny men the right to property, simply wishes to make property of men."

And I can't think of anything more evil — or more puzzling — than that.

Oh, The Irany

No, that's not a misspelling. Iran has been elected to the U.N. Commission on Women's Rights. This, not long before they're preparing to 'legally' stone a woman for the — gasp — horrible crime of adultery. She confessed after 99 lashes, so we can be pretty sure she's actually guilty of this unforgivable deed.

Under international pressure the Mullahs may decide to hang her instead. That's called doubling-down on the irony, since it introduces the politically correct 'solution' of shaping your sentence to fit popular world opinion.

Funny how that "religion of peace" keeps working out in practice, ain't it?

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Other Shoe Drops

File this one under "predicting correctly all the time gets very tedious":
There's no better definition of government waste than the estimated $192 million President Obama is forcing cash-strapped state officials to spend on road signs touting his failed stimulus program.

Even so, with a critical congressional election coming in November, Americans will see a proliferation of these politically self-serving signs in coming months as Obama tries to convince voters who think his "Recovery Summer" is just an economic Potemkin village.
Just one more sign, pun intended, of the soft fascism that characterizes everything Obama does.

Not surprisingly, the hundreds of self-censored Pravdas out there are nowhere to be seen on this one.

Progressivism, Taxation, and Tyranny

Obama recently offered the threat to “start presenting some very difficult choices to the country.” He hoped that “some of these folks who are hollering about deficits and debt” would “step-up” because he planned on “calling their bluff.” Undoubtedly, he is raising a trial balloon to increase taxes on everyone, violating yet another campaign promise. The only other alternative would be to cut spending, which Obama will never do (other than on Defense).

In that context, the following quotes from individuals with considerably more wisdom may be of interest.

The debate on Progressive taxation didn't begin two years ago, or even 100 years ago just prior to the passage of the 16th Amendment. Writing in 1845, the English writer Ramsay McCulloch said:
“The moment you abandon... the cardinal principle of exacting from all individuals the same proportion of their income or their property, you are at sea without rudder or compass and there is no amount of injustice or folly you may not commit.”
The history of the past century has proven him right with a vengeance.

A hundred years ago, only the very wealthy paid any income tax at all. In 1913, the top tax rate was 7% on incomes above $500,000 (roughly $10 million 2007 dollars), according to Wikipedia. (Individuals earning over $3,000 — equivalent to $60,000 today — paid 1%.) Today, the top 1% pay 40% of all federal income taxes. The bottom 50% pay only 3%.

Some believe that is only fair. They clearly do not share the Founders view, when they were paying 2%, that 3-4% would constitute tyranny. They're also, no doubt, indifferent to Montesquieu's belief that "when the savages of Louisiana wish to have fruit, they cut the tree at the bottom and gather the fruit. That is exactly a despotic government."

That puts me in mind of another tree, the one Jefferson mentioned as needing refreshing from time to time. Fortunately, at present, all this can be reversed by shedding tyrant's blood only metaphorically. The signs for that happening this November are promising. According to a recent Rasmussen poll, only
22% would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.
When the American people begin to reject Federally-funded altruism, it's a sign the tyrants' power is waning. For, as Hugo said, "not all the united armies can stand against an idea whose time has come."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nancy Pelosi = Baghdad Bob of Economics

From a WSJ editorial by Karl Rove:
Last Thursday House Speaker Nancy Pelosi joined the president in his bad bet by offering up the economic gem that extension of unemployment benefits "creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name."
To paraphrase a line from The Lion In Winter, if Nancy Pelosi can be Speaker of the House, there's hope for every ape in Africa.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Shout Heard 'Round the World

Jay Nordlinger of NRO makes a very insightful comment:
Also, say that, back in the 2008 campaign, you had remarked, “If Obama becomes president, he will demand that NASA devote itself to making Muslims feel good about their contributions to science.” You would have been called the worst and wildest kind of right-winger.

This administration is simply beyond parody. Apologizing to Communist China for Arizona’s immigration laws; directing NASA to address itself to Muslim self-esteem . . . Unbelievable.
Brother, you said it. And add letting the thugish Black Panthers off the hook for illegal voter intimidation, just one more in a long line of what might appear as gaffes.

They're really not unforced errors, though. They're the natural and inevitable results of his adherence to Progressivism.

I have to give credit to Obama for one thing. He has a kind of integrity. For all his minor flip-flops in the name of political expedience, he keeps his eyes on the ball and pushes his basic agenda relentlessly, because he holds to his philosophy with rare consistency.

Still, you ain't seen nothin' yet, especially if Democrats retain a majority in Congress after November. Wait until the argument over immigration, further attempts to control the energy sector, and the final Federal takeover of the educational system really ramp up.

His aim - and this statement, too, will be regarded as wild, right-wing hyperbole - is nothing less than the establishment of a fascist state, with Pelosites permanently in charge.

What he and his cronies won't yet acknowledge, at least they haven't yet been caught saying it, is that a backlash is building. Whether it happens in November or later, it's on the way. Independents are moving away from the Democrats and toward Republicans. At the same time, the latter are having their feet held to the fire to avoid any repeat of the Bush years when they, too, forgot that the American people have rights to life, liberty, and property.

It's too soon to tell how big or how far the movement will go, but it won't stop after the election, no matter what the results.

The rallying cry of that revolt is something I read recently. I don't know the author and have no link but it went:

"We want all our freedom back, and we want it now!"

We won't get it all, and we certainly won't get it now. But big changes are on the way. The Revolution has begun and it's now 1770.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Welfare State vs. Virtue

James Dorn offers a fine essay at The Freeman on The Rise of Government and the Decline of Morality Here's an excerpt:
Immigrants were faced with material poverty, true, but they were not wretched. There was a certain moral order in everyday life, which began in the home and spread to the outside community.

Baltimore’s Polish immigrants provide a good example. Like other immigrants, they arrived with virtually nothing except the desire to work hard and to live in a free country. Their ethos of liberty and responsibility is evident in a 1907 housing report describing the Polish community in Fells Point:

"A remembered Saturday evening inspection of five apartments in a house [on] Thames Street, with their whitened floors and shining cook stoves, with the dishes gleaming on the neatly ordered shelves, the piles of clean clothing laid out for Sunday, and the general atmosphere of preparation for the Sabbath, suggested standards that would not have disgraced a Puritan housekeeper.

Yet, according to the report, a typical Polish home consisted “of a crowded one- or two-room apartment, occupied by six or eight people, and located two floors above the common water supply.”

Even though wages were low, Polish Americans sacrificed to save and pooled their resources to help each other by founding building and loan associations, as Linda Shopes noted in The Baltimore Book. By 1929, 60 percent of Polish families were homeowners—without any government assistance.
That basic fact — that a free political system is premised on the presence of a virtuous populace — can never be emphasized too much. The great debate today, of course, is between competing ethical systems.

History gives us a guide and points to a time when Americans embraced self-reliance, self-responsibility, and self-confidence. The great open question is how to once again make those virtues the norm, especially in the face of an educational system working fiercely against them.

Suggestions welcomed.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Economic Advice for the Juveniles in Congress

Two former Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers offer some advice for Congress:
Edward Lazear: The deficit matters because it tells us how much we’re borrowing, and since we save less than we invest, it means we borrow from abroad. But more importantly, we really need to be focused on the level of spending.

Even if we closed our deficit – and that would mean that we’d raise taxes – we still wouldn’t be helping the economy. Taxes hurt the economy. Deficits hurt the economy. Once we’ve declared that we’re going to spend at very high levels, we’re really between a rock and a hard place.
I'm sure I can't be the only one to think it odd that two eminent economists have to tell those in charge of the public treasury something every teenager knows.

[Hat tip: Peter Robinson at NRO.]

Jefferson on the Foundation of the Constitution

One of the core founders offers a thought for Independence Day.
I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That "all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people."

To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition.

Certainly no such universal power was meant to be given them. It was intended to lace them up straitly within the enumerated powers.

Opinion on Creating a National Bank, 1791
In short, Jefferson regarded the now sadly neglected 10th Amendment as a bedrock principle of the new republican government, and a vital bulwark to keep it strictly limited. High time to make up for that neglect.

[For extensive commentary on the 10th, see Dr. Randy Barnett's fine book, Restoring the Lost Constitution.]

[Hat tip: Robert Tracinski, TIA Daily, July 4, courtesy of Ted Keer.]

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The State of Liberty, Circa 2040, A Cautionary Tale

It is 2040. You are 17 and the world is about to break open for you, you feel sure. You may have struggles, true. But that world has possibilities, so you believe. Unfortunately, following a century-long tradition, Obama and his kind decided 30 years prior that the world is better when "we spread the wealth around," so your options are a choice between Charybdis and Scylla.

Your parents — a successful lobbyist and a solar panel engineer — played the game for your sake and were rewarded by those in power during your childhood. But the party they allied with is out of favor since last November.

You've just graduated with a good education from an elite high school (the public schools having all been reduced to literal day care clinics and indoctrination centers). But Dad and Mom's income taxes are being raised to 90%, retroactive to the date of your birth. As "advantaged couples," it's their moral obligation to pay for college for the offspring of a couple from the oppressed group du jour, you see, and that leaves none for you.

You might have made your own way without it, but small business and entrepreneurship are things of the past, a mere memory from a quaint time in America's past, like gum drop jars and soda fountains with elephant head spigots.

Your grandparents — long dead, courtesy of rationed health care — might have remembered seeing paintings of those objects. They would also have remembered tales of a different country, the country of their great grandparents.

Then, life was physically hard. A refrigerator was a luxury item and there were no cell phones. But if your poor ancestor had an itch to design and market a locomotive, he had only to beg money from a capitalist, not favors from a Congressman.

Of course, there were in his day — as there are in yours — men who traded money for favors from those with power and public funds. Such men started railroads, most of which — even after repeated subsidies — went bankrupt. James Jerome Hill used private money for his lines and sucessfully spanned a continent. Along the way he created tidy towns across the country and tidy profits for himself.

Life was hard in other ways, too, especially for those who were descendant from African slaves or Chinese railroad workers — or even Irish potato farmers, Italian bankers, and Polish butchers, all of whom suffered prejudice. But no government union teacher nagged your ancestor to the point of madness to love his neighbor, or they you. That was left largely to preachers on Sunday, who could be ignored without consequences.

Individuals loved or hated, worked or rotted, succeeded or failed. But whatever the outcome, it depended half on luck, half on character and their own choices — not on the whims or vanity or do-gooding faux morality of men who held hostage the legal system. Your ancestors were free.

That freedom offered no guarantees, it's true. Liberty never promised men a free ride, just the chance to build one without the brake of a boot on the neck or a straitjacket on the soul.

Lucky for you, even in 2040 it's still possible to refresh the tree of liberty. Godspeed.

Quotes for Independence Day

“Now what liberty can there be where property is taken away without consent?
[I]t is absurdly expected by the promoters of the present measures that these, with their posterity to all generations, should be easy, while their property shall be disposed of by a House of Commons at three thousand miles' distance from them, and who cannot be supposed to have the least care or concern for their real interest; who have not only no natural care for their interest, but must be in effect bribed against it, as every burden they lay on the Colonists is so much saved or gained to themselves.”

Samuel Adams, The Rights of the Colonists, November 1772


"To preserve our independence, we must not let our politicians load us with perpetual debt. We must make our choice between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.

If we can prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people under the pretense of caring for them, the people will be much happier.”

Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Kercheval, 1816


"There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the of the people by the gradual and silent encroachment of those in power, than by violent an sudden usurpation."

James Madison, Speech at the Virginia Convention to ratify the Federal Constitution


"There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence.

I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men and become the instruments of their own undoing."

Daniel Webster, Reception at Madison


"A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader."

Samuel Adams, letter to James Warren, February 12, 1779

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Jefferson's Rough Draft of the Declaration, A Lesson

There are some interesting differences in Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence - particularly the section on slavery - and the final, signed document. Here is the great man's version, before the Committee of Five and Congress made changes.

A Declaration of the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress assembled.

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained, and to assume among the powers of the earth the equal and independant station to which the laws of nature and of nature's god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change.

We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying it's foundation on such principles and organising it's powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

prudence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes: and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, begun at a distinguished period, and pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to subject them to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security.

such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to expunge their former systems of government. the history of his present majesty, is a history of unremitting injuries and usurpations, among which no one fact stands single or solitary to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest, all of which have in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states.

to prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world, for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.

  • he has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good:
  • he has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has neglected utterly to attend to them.
  • he has refused to pass other laws for the accomodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of representation, a right inestimable to them, formidable to tyrants alone:
  • he has dissolved Representative houses repeatedly and continually, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people:
  • he has refused for a long space of time to cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise, the state remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within:
  • he has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither; and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands:
  • he has suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these colonies, refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers:
  • he has made our judges dependant on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and amount of their salaries:
  • he has erected a multitude of new offices by a self-assumed power, and sent hither swarms of officers to harrass our people and eat out their substance:
  • he has kept among us in times of peace standing armies and ships of war:
  • he has affected to render the military, independant of and superior to the civil power:
  • he has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknoleged by our laws; giving his assent to their pretended acts of legislation, for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us;
for protecting them by a mock-trial from punishment for any murders they should commit on the inhabitants of these states;

for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;

for imposing taxes on us without our consent;

for depriving us of the benefits of trial by jury;

for transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences: for taking away our charters, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

for suspending our own legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:

he has abdicated government here, withdrawing his governors, and declaring us out of his allegiance and protection:

he has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people:

he is at this time transporting large armies of foreign merce naries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy unworthy the head of a civilized nation:

he has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions of existence:

he has incited treasonable insurrections in our fellow-subjects, with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our property:

he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither.

this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, and murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

in every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered by repeated injury. a prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free.

future ages will scarce believe that the hardiness of one man, adventured within the short compass of 12 years only, on so many acts of tyranny without a mask, over a people fostered and fixed in principles of liberty.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren.

we have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend a jurisdiction over these our states. we have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here, no one of which could warrant so strange a pretension: that these were effected at the expence of our own blood and treasure, unassisted by the wealth or the strength of Great Britain: that in constituting indeed our several forms of government, we had adopted one common king, thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league and amity with them: but that submission to their parliament was no part of our constitution, nor ever in idea, if history may be credited: and we appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, as well as to the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which were likely to interrupt our correspondence and connection.

they too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity, and when occasions have been given them, by the regular course of their laws, of removing from their councils the disturbers of our harmony, they have by their free election re-established them in power.

at this very time too they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our common blood, but Scotch and foreign mercenaries to invade and deluge us in blood.

these facts have given the last stab to agonizing affection, and manly spirit bids us to renounce for ever these unfeeling brethren. we must endeavor to forget our former love for them, and to hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

we might have been a free and great people together; but a communication of grandeur and of freedom it seems is below their dignity. be it so, since they will have it: the road to glory and happiness is open to us too; we will climb it in a separate state, and acquiesce in the necessity which pronounces our everlasting Adieu!

We therefore the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled do, in the name and by authority of the good people of these states, reject and renounce a11 allegiance and subjection to the kings of Great Britain and all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve and break off a11 political connection which may have heretofore subsisted between us and the people or parliament of Great Britain; and finally we do assert and declare these a colonies to be free and independant states, and that as free and independant states they shall hereafter have power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do.

And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.

As a matter of interesting history, there were many individual declarations of independence prior to July, 1776. According to Wikipedia, some ninety separate local and state proclamations throughout the Thirteen Colonies were issued. Among them, the one "on May 4, when the Rhode Island legislature became the first to declare its independence from Great Britain."

Clearly, revolution was in the air.

History, to cite a trite but true observation, repeats itself. The question before us now is whether this time around it will be a peaceful one, brought about by democratic means, or will require more forceful measures to throw off the velvet noose of Federal tyranny tightening around the necks of today's American citizens.

Time will tell.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Calvin Coolidge on the Declaration

Coolidge understood Progressivism, and its antipode.
It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern.

But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final.

If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions.

If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.

Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
[Hat tip: Nick Schulz at AEI, via Jonah Goldberg.]