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Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

Sarah Palin at CPAC

Posted by Richard on March 9, 2014

Want to know why the left has tried so hard to diminish, disparage, and destroy Sarah Palin? Because she can deliver a speech like this. Wow. Just wow.


[YouTube link]

Best take-off on “Green Eggs and Ham” ever. And like Rand Paul, she goes after the GOP establishment as well as the Dems.

 

 

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More guns, less crime

Posted by Richard on February 26, 2014

From the Citizens Committee for the Right to Bear Arms:

BELLEVUE, WA – The FBI’s semi-annual uniform crime data for the first half of 2013 confirms once again what the firearms community already knew, that violent crime has continued to decline while gun sales have continued to climb, the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms said today.

The report, issued last week, says murders declined 6.9 percent from the first half of 2012, while aggravated assaults dropped by 6.6 percent nationwide and robberies were down 1.8 percent. Forcible rapes declined 10.6 percent from the same period in 2012 and overall, violent crime fell by 10.6 percent in non-metropolitan counties and 3.6 percent in metropolitan counties.

“This new information reinforces the notion that not only do guns save lives, their presence in the hands and homes of law-abiding citizens just might be a deterrent to crime,” observed CCRKBA Chairman Alan Gottlieb. “The National Shooting Sports Foundation has been reporting a steady increase in firearm sales for the past few years. Taken as a whole, one cannot help but conclude that the predictions from gun prohibitionists that more guns leads to more crime have been consistently wrong.”

Gottlieb said the tired argument from the anti-gun lobby that more firearms in the hands of private citizens would result in sharp increases in violence have run out of traction. Not only has the decline in crime corresponded with an increase in gun sales, it also coincides with a steady rise in the number of citizens obtaining concealed carry licenses and permits, he noted.

“The FBI report says burglaries and auto theft have also decreased,” Gottlieb said, “and it is impossible to look at this pattern and not suggest that increased gun ownership just might be one contributing factor. Gun prohibitionists would, of course, dismiss that suggestion as poppycock, but you can bet your life savings that if the data was reversed, and violent crime had risen, the gun control lobby would be rushing to every available microphone declaring that guns were to blame.

“This continuing pattern brings up a pertinent question,” he concluded. “If the gun ban lobby has been so wrong about more guns resulting in more crime, what else have they been wrong about? The word ‘everything’ comes to mind.”

2013 was yet another record year for gun sales.

In Detroit, where government services including law enforcement have been cut back, more and more people are taking responsibility for defending themselves. And, wonder of all wonders, they have the support of the police chief:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig has been an outspoken supporter of arming law-abiding citizens, and has publicly stated that “Good Americans with concealed pistols translates into crime reduction.”

Living conditions in Detroit have declined in recent years. The city’s bankruptcy led to a reduced police force, and residents have had to learn to protect themselves. Self-defense killings in Detroit rose to 2200% above the national average in recent years, and Chief Craig says that more than 300 legally armed citizens defended themselves last year.

Maybe wanna-be thugs in Detroit will think twice about messing with homeowners in the area.

UPDATE: Related — Michael Barone says the evidence of the last quarter-century has changed his mind regarding “shall issue” concealed carry laws:

The result has been that over the years the entire nation has become carry-concealed-weapons territory, as shown in a neat graphic in a Volokh Conspiracy blog post by Dave Kopel. Back in 1987, some people, myself included, worried that such laws would lead to frequent shootouts on the streets arising from traffic altercations and the like. That has not happened — something we can be sure of since the mainstream media would be delighted to headline such events.

To the contrary, violent crime rates have declined drastically during the last quarter-century. I don’t think you can prove that concealed-weapons laws caused that result, but they have probably contributed to it, because would-be criminals are less likely to assault people they believe might be armed. In any case the argument that concealed-weapons laws would lead to more violent crime has been about as thoroughly refuted as an argument can be.

One lesson, I think, is that responsible citizens tend to behave like responsible citizens, even if — or perhaps especially if — they’re armed. Another lesson is that the national political dialogue can be totally irrelevant to what really happens in American life.

HT: Instapundit

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Ukranians seek to add right to bear arms to constitution

Posted by Richard on February 26, 2014

I guess being attacked by your own government for daring to protest its actions has a way of focusing the mind on what’s important. The Ukrainian Gun Owners Association recently issued this statement (emphasis in original):

Today every citizen of Ukraine understands why our country has hundreds of thousands of policemen. Last illusions were crushed when riot police used rubber batons and boots at the Independence Square on peaceful citizens.

After such actions we realize that it is not enough to only adopt the Gun Law.

As of today Ukrainian Gun Owners Association will start to work on the preparation of amendments to the Constitution, which will provide an unconditional right for Ukrainian citizens to bear arms.

People should have the right to bear arms, which will be put in written into the Constitution.

Authorities should not and will not be stronger than its people!

Armed people are treated with respect!

Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, Tim Knight of the Colorado Second Amendment Association, and the NRA have voiced their support. Townhall’s Katie Pavlich noted:

Currently, gun laws in the Ukraine are categorized as restrictive and only “licensed gun owners may lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition.” Ukrainians who apply for a firearms license must show “genuine reason” for why they are doing so, which must approved by the State.

I’m guessing that “I want to protect myself from government goons” is not an acceptable “genuine reason” for getting a firearms license there. Sort of like New York, Chicago, …

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2013

Reposting this again. 

Old Glory

Perhaps the finest words ever penned by man, from the document that changed the world for the better like no other before or since:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal 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 separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its 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, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Go read “The Americans Who Risked Everything,” a wonderful speech by Rush Limbaugh, Jr. (father of talkmeister Rush Limbaugh III) about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s an excerpt:

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half – 24 – were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: “Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.”

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: “Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

“The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

“If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.”

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

If you don’t have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. Take the time this Independence Day to read it. Then raise a glass in a toast to Liberty!

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence”
(from ushistory.org)

The painting features the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence — John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson (presenting the document), and Benjamin Franklin — standing before John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress. The painting includes portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots. The artist sketched the individuals and the room from life.

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2012

Reposting this from last year and the year before. On this Independence Day, let’s be thankful that we’re still a mostly free country. And let’s hope that we’re more free a year from now (it’s up to you this November). And more free still in five. And ten. And twenty…

Old Glory

Perhaps the finest words ever penned by man, from the document that changed the world for the better like no other before or since:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal 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 separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its 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, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Go read “The Americans Who Risked Everything,” a wonderful speech by Rush Limbaugh, Jr. (father of talkmeister Rush Limbaugh III) about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here’s an excerpt:

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half – 24 – were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: “Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.”

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: “Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

“The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

“If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.”

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

If you don’t have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. Take the time this Independence Day to read it. Then raise a glass in a toast to Liberty!

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"

John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence”
(from ushistory.org)

The painting features the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence — John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson (presenting the document), and Benjamin Franklin — standing before John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress. The painting includes portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots. The artist sketched the individuals and the room from life.

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“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” silver anniversary

Posted by Richard on June 12, 2012

Twenty-five years ago today, President Reagan stood at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and gave one of the most important speeches of the 20th century. If you’re too young to remember the world before the fall of the Soviet Union, know this: for the four decades before Reagan called on Gorbachev to open that gate and tear down that wall, East German border guards had been shooting down men, women, and children trying to escape from the gigantic prison camp known as the Soviet empire. Little more than two years later, the wall came down and what Reagan called the Evil Empire fell.

The speech is a beautiful, stirring thing delivered with strength and conviction. I still get chills listening to it. I urge you youngsters who’ve never heard it and you oldsters who’ve forgotten it to listen to it in its entirety (26 minutes). Here’s the complete video and an excerpt from the transcript (PDF available here).


[YouTube link]

Our gathering today is being broadcast throughout Western Europe and North America. I understand that it is being seen and heard as well in the East. To those listening throughout Eastern Europe, a special word: Although I cannot be with you, I address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me. For I join you, as I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin. [There is only one Berlin.]

Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. From the Baltic, south, those barriers cut across Germany in a gash of barbed wire, concrete, dog runs, and guard towers. Farther south, there may be no visible, no obvious wall. But there remain armed guards and checkpoints all the same–still a restriction on the right to travel, still an instrument to impose upon ordinary men and women the will of a totalitarian state. Yet it is here in Berlin where the wall emerges most clearly; here, cutting across your city, where the news photo and the television screen have imprinted this brutal division of a continent upon the mind of the world. Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar.

In West Germany and here in Berlin, there took place an economic miracle, the Wirtschaftswunder. Adenauer, Erhard, Reuter, and other leaders understood the practical importance of liberty–that just as truth can flourish only when the journalist is given freedom of speech, so prosperity can come about only when the farmer and businessman enjoy economic freedom. The German leaders reduced tariffs, expanded free trade, lowered taxes. From 1950 to 1960 alone, the standard of living in West Germany and Berlin doubled.

In the 1950s, Khrushchev predicted: “We will bury you.” But in the West today, we see a free world that has achieved a level of prosperity and well-being unprecedented in all human history. In the Communist world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of health, even want of the most basic kind–too little food. Even today, the Soviet Union still cannot feed itself. After these four decades, then, there stands before the entire world one great and inescapable conclusion: Freedom leads to prosperity. Freedom replaces the ancient hatreds among the nations with comity and peace. Freedom is the victor.

And now the Soviets themselves may, in a limited way, be coming to understand the importance of freedom. We hear much from Moscow about a new policy of reform and openness. Some political prisoners have been released. Certain foreign news broadcasts are no longer being jammed. Some economic enterprises have been permitted to operate with greater freedom from state control.

Are these the beginnings of profound changes in the Soviet state? Or are they token gestures, intended to raise false hopes in the West, or to strengthen the Soviet system without changing it? We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace.

General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2011

Reposting this from last year. On this Independence Day, let's be thankful that we're still a mostly free country. And let's hope that we're more free two years from now. And more free still in five. And ten. And twenty…

 Old Glory

Perhaps the finest words ever penned by man, from the document that changed the world for the better like no other before or since:  

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal 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 separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its 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, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Go read "The Americans Who Risked Everything," a wonderful speech by Rush Limbaugh, Jr. (father of talkmeister Rush Limbaugh III) about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here's an excerpt:

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half – 24 – were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

"The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

If you don't have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. Take the time this Independence Day to read it. Then raise a glass in a toast to Liberty!
 

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"
(from ushistory.org)

The painting features the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence — John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson (presenting the document), and Benjamin Franklin — standing before John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress. The painting includes portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots. The artist sketched the individuals and the room from life.

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Return of the Bush Doctrine

Posted by Richard on March 6, 2011

Charles Krauthammer nailed it on Friday, pointing out that some of the same people who denounced the toppling of the Saddam Hussein regime are now clamoring for the West to do something about Moammar Gaddafi, a far less murderous and dangerous tyrant:

A strange moral inversion, considering that Hussein's evil was an order of magnitude beyond Gaddafi's. Gaddafi is a capricious killer; Hussein was systematic. Gaddafi was too unstable and crazy to begin to match the Baathist apparatus: a comprehensive national system of terror, torture and mass murder, gassing entire villages to create what author Kanan Makiya called a "Republic of Fear."

No matter the hypocritical double standard. Now that revolutions are sweeping the Middle East and everyone is a convert to George W. Bush's freedom agenda, it's not just Iraq that has slid into the memory hole. Also forgotten is the once proudly proclaimed "realism" of Years One and Two of President Obama's foreign policy – the "smart power" antidote to Bush's alleged misty-eyed idealism.

It began on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first Asia trip, when she publicly played down human rights concerns in China. The administration also cut aid for democracy promotion in Egypt by 50 percent. And cut civil society funds – money for precisely the organizations we now need to help Egyptian democracy – by 70 percent.

This new realism reached its apogee [I'd say its nadir] with Obama's reticence and tardiness in saying anything in support of the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. On the contrary, Obama made clear that nuclear negotiations with the discredited and murderous regime (talks that a child could see would go nowhere) took precedence over the democratic revolutionaries in the street – to the point where demonstrators in Tehran chanted, "Obama, Obama, you are either with us or with them."

There was a telling moment in Libya the other day, when rebels begged for Bush

Now that revolution has spread from Tunisia to Oman, however, the administration is rushing to keep up with the new dispensation, repeating the fundamental tenet of the Bush Doctrine that Arabs are no exception to the universal thirst for dignity and freedom.

Now, it can be argued that the price in blood and treasure that America paid to establish Iraq's democracy was too high. But whatever side you take on that question, what's unmistakable is that to the Middle Easterner, Iraq today is the only functioning Arab democracy, with multiparty elections and the freest press. Its democracy is fragile and imperfect – last week, security forces cracked down on demonstrators demanding better services – but were Egypt to be as politically developed in, say, a year as is Iraq today, we would think it a great success.

For Libyans, the effect of the Iraq war is even more concrete. However much bloodshed they face, they have been spared the threat of genocide. Gaddafi was so terrified by what we did to Saddam & Sons that he plea-bargained away his weapons of mass destruction. For a rebel in Benghazi, that is no small matter.

Yet we have been told incessantly how Iraq poisoned the Arab mind against America. Really? Where is the rampant anti-Americanism in any of these revolutions? …

It's Yemen's president and the delusional Gaddafi who are railing against American conspiracies to rule and enslave. The demonstrators in the streets of Egypt, Iran and Libya have been straining their eyes for America to help. …

Facebook and Twitter have surely mediated this pan-Arab (and Iranian) reach for dignity and freedom. But the Bush Doctrine set the premise.

While his critics were making sneering jokes about My Pet Goat, George W. Bush was reading Natan Sharansky's The Case for Democracy and embracing the transformational power of liberty. How many bloody Middle East dictatorships must fall before he's awarded a Nobel Peace Prize?

Who am I kidding? There aren't enough murderous dictatorships in the world for that to happen.

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Pipes is becoming optimistic!

Posted by Richard on March 1, 2011

When Natan Sharansky expressed cautious optimism about events in Egypt about a month ago, those of us who read The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror weren't exactly shocked. But when Daniel Pipes, of all people, writes a column entitled "My Optimism on the New Arab Revolt," that's a real surprise. And a must read. Here's the nut:

The revolts over the past two months have been largely constructive, patriotic, and open in spirit. Political extremism of any sort, leftist or Islamist, has been largely absent from the streets. Conspiracy theories have been the refuge of decayed rulers, not exuberant crowds. The United States, Great Britain, and Israel have been conspicuously absent from the sloganeering. (Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi blamed unrest in his country on al-Qaeda spreading hallucinogenic drugs.)

One has the sense that the past century’s extremism — tied to such figures as Amin al-Husseini, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Ruhollah Khomeini, Yasser Arafat, and Saddam Hussein — has run its course, that populations seek something more mundane and consumable than rhetoric, rejectionism, and backwardness.

Pessimism serves as a career enhancer in Middle East studies and I am known for doom-and-gloom. But, with due hesitation, I see changes that could augur a new era, one in which infantilized Arabic speakers mature into adults. One rubs one’s eyes at this transformation, awaiting its reversal. So far, however, it has held.

Perhaps the most genial symbol of this maturation is the pattern of street demonstrators cleaning up after themselves. No longer are they wards of the state dependent on it for services; of a sudden, they are citizens with a sense of civic responsibility.

I, too, was struck by the demonstrators cleaning up Cairo's Tahrir Square. It reminded me of our Tea Party rallies. At every Tea Party rally I'm aware of, the attendees picked up all the trash afterward and left the place cleaner than before. Compare that to any leftist gathering (for example, see here and here).

When I saw a news clip of Egyptians cleaning up the square, I did a little fist pump and exclaimed "Yesss!" This is how people who see themselves as citizens, not subjects, behave. They embrace both freedom and personal responsibility. 

I share Pipes' and Sharansky's cautious optimism, and I consider these spontaneous, self-directed cleanup efforts as a very hopeful sign. Three cheers for "the transformational power of liberty"!

(Dare I say it again? I blame Bush! It was he who told the Washington press corps , "If you want a glimpse of how I think about foreign policy read Natan Sharansky's book, The Case for Democracy." It was he who talked about a "freedom deficit" in the Middle East and predicted that the example of a liberated and democratic Iraq could trigger change throughout the region. It seems that prediction is coming true. Who knew that Chimpy McBushitler was so prescient?)

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Sharansky hopeful about Egypt

Posted by Richard on February 5, 2011

The Wall Street Journal's David Feith interviewed Natan Sharansky about recent events in Egypt and other Arab dictatorships, and found him neither as surprised nor as pessimistic as most of the so-called experts:

"The reason people are going to the streets and making revolution is their desire not to live in a fear society," Mr. Sharansky says. In his taxonomy, the world is divided between "fear societies" and "free societies," with the difference between them determinable by what he calls a "town square test": Are the people in a given society free to stand in their town square and express their opinions without fear of arrest or physical harm? The answer in Tunisia and Egypt, of course, has long been "no"—as it was in the Soviet bloc countries that faced popular revolutions in 1989.

This idea is the animating feature of a worldview that bucks much conventional wisdom. Uprisings like Tunisia's and Egypt's, he says, make "specialists—Sovietologists, Arabists—say 'Who could have thought only two weeks ago that this will happen?'" But "look at what Middle Eastern democratic dissidents were saying for all these years about the weakness of these regimes from the inside," and you won't be surprised when they topple, he says.

Sharansky doesn't buy the idea that propping up tyrants like Mubarak is the only way to prevent Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over. He argues that the longer Mubark remains in power, the more the Brotherhood becomes the only strong, well-organized opposition poised to take over. Better that the dictator should go now, with the streets largely filled with people yearning for freedom and democracy, not radical Islamists.

Sharansky wants the US to adopt a policy of "linkage," as it did with the Soviet Union in 1974:

If he were a U.S. senator, Mr. Sharansky says, he would immediately introduce a law to continue support to Egypt on condition that "20% of all this money goes to strengthening and developing democratic institutions. And the money cannot be controlled by the Egyptian government." Ideally his measure would kick in as soon as possible, so that it can affect the incentives of any Egyptian transitional government established to rule until September, when a presidential election is scheduled.

Sharansky thinks President Obama's response on Egypt is improving daily and is certainly much better than his response to the 2009 Iranian revolution: 

… By his reckoning, the Obama administration's position during the recent Iranian protests was "maybe one of the biggest betrayals of people's freedom in modern history. . . . At the moment when millions were deciding whether to go to the barricades, the leader of the free world said 'For us, the most important thing is engagement with the regime, so we don't want a change of regime.' Compared to this, there is very big progress [today]."

Inconsistency is par for the course in this field. "From time to time," Mr. Sharansky says of the George W. Bush administration, "America was giving lectures about democracy." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave a strong address in Cairo in 2005. And in 2002, by threatening to withhold $130 million in aid to Egypt, the administration successfully pressured Mr. Mubarak to release the sociologist and democracy activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim from prison. In their final years, however, administration officials reverted to bureaucratic form and relaxed their pressure drastically.

Condoleezza RiceEarlier this week, I recalled Condi's marvelous 2005 speech in Cairo and some of Bush's finest moments speaking about "the transformational power of liberty." But by 2006, with things going badly in Iraq and his popularity tanking, Bush pretty much gave up on the one thing he got right

President Obama relaxed it even further, Mr. Sharansky notes, inserting only vague language about democracy into his June 2009 address in Cairo. "There was no mention at all that at that  moment democratic dissidents were imprisoned, that Mubarak had put in prison the leading [opposition] candidate in the past election," Ayman Nour.

Much needs to change in Egypt, Sharansky concedes, before it can become a free society, but he believes those changes can and must begin now: 

Even if the U.S. embraces linkage, Egypt's September election could be quite problematic. "Only when the basic institutions that protect a free society are firmly in place—such as a free press, the rule of law, independent courts, political parties—can free elections be held," Mr. Sharansky wrote in "The Case for Democracy." In Egypt, those "free, developed institutions," he tells me, "will not be developed by September."

What can develop over the next eight months, Mr. Sharansky says, is a U.S. policy making clear that "whoever is elected cannot continue to survive—he cannot continue to rely on the assistance of the free world in defense, economics, anything—if democratic reforms are not continued and if democratic institutions are not built." After several years of such democracy-building, he says, when dissidents like Mr. Ibrahim enjoy the ability to build institutions like trade unions and women's organizations, "then in a few years you'll have a different country, and you can have really free elections."

Read the whole thing. Then let your congresscritters know that you support Sharansky's proposal for aid linkage. 

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The transformational power of liberty

Posted by Richard on February 2, 2011

First, Tunisia. Now, Egypt. And other Middle East autocrats have taken notice. The "transformational power of liberty" is on the move in the Middle East:

Once invincible, a Mideast autocrat is close to finished. Egypt's longtime President Hosni Mubarak is fading fast after a week of inspired street protests. And the shock waves are spreading out as his rule weakens.

The 82-year-old leader now is offering not to run for re-election later this year. It's a too-little, too-late gesture to mollify masses of Egyptians who are demanding that he depart and give new leadership a chance.

Underscoring Mubarak's final moments is another reality: His longtime ally, the United States, is giving a firm shove after initial hestitation. "We hear your voices," President Obama said in a Tuesday message to the demonstrators. The transition "must begin now," he added.

It's an earthshaking moment for the Mideast. The region's biggest country, viewed as one of the most stable, is on the brink of democratic change. And it was created by widespread, homegrown protests, not a bloody coup or outside force.

First came the demise of Tunisia's corrupt government, an act that touched off a similar surge in Egypt that Mubarak was unable to quell. One telling moment was an assurance from the independent-minded military that it would not use force against citizens taking to the streets.

The looming downfall of Mubarak could send reverberations throughout the Mideast. Jordan's King Hussein raced to get in front of similar protests in his country by firing his Cabinet. Other leaders might scramble to stay in power as the Mideast glimpses a chance for democracy. A turning point is at hand.

I blame Bush. This is from an October 2005 post, "The one thing Bush gets right":

Bush spoke at length about the fifth point, and his commitment to "the transformational power of liberty" remains solid. He singled out Egypt and Saudi Arabia as "friends" whom we're encouraging to reform and to "respect the rights and choices of their own people." He pointedly added:  

… We're standing with dissidents and exiles against oppressive regimes, because we know that the dissidents of today will be the democratic leaders of tomorrow. We're making our case through public diplomacy, stating clearly and confidently our belief in self-determination, and the rule of law, and religious freedom, and equal rights for women, beliefs that are right and true in every land, and in every culture.

Bush closed, as he so often does, with a restatement of his commitment to and confidence in liberty:

Throughout history, tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that murder is justified to serve their grand vision — and they end up alienating decent people across the globe. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that regimented societies are strong and pure — until those societies collapse in corruption and decay. Tyrants and would-be tyrants have always claimed that free men and women are weak and decadent — until the day that free men and women defeat them.

We don't know the course of our own struggle — the course our own struggle will take — or the sacrifices that might lie ahead. We do know, however, that the defense of freedom is worth our sacrifice. We do know the love of freedom is the mightiest force of history. And we do know the cause of freedom will once again prevail.

I also blame Natan Sharansky (as channeled by Bush). Also Condi and her 2005 speech in Cairo. And Tony Blair.

I'm optimistic and hopeful about the wave of transformational liberty sweeping across the Middle East. Arab Muslims have a strong yearning for democracy. Yes, there's a danger that radical Islamists will gain power in democratic elections. But as I noted years ago regarding Iraq, even such an outcome would be a short-lived victory for radical Islam:

It's a crucial idea that the Islamofascists seem to understand clearly, but the critics and pessimists just don't get: once the vast majority of the people buy into the concept of democratic government — even a Sharia-based or Shia-dominated democratic government — the reactionary theology of the Islamofascists has already lost. Their version of Islam can't tolerate people choosing, period – even if you make the "right" choice, the very idea that it's up to you to decide between competing ideas undermines their entire belief system and will eventually destroy it. 

Years ago, I argued that the Bush Doctrine is a long shot, but it's the best option we have. Now, it just may be working. Best wishes to the freedom-loving people of Egypt, Tunisia, and the other autocratic nations of that region.

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Health care choice on the ballot in Colorado

Posted by Richard on August 28, 2010

The Independence Institute has succeeded in placing the Right to Health Care Choice Initiative on the ballot as Amendment 63. It's similar to Missouri's Healthcare Freedom Act, which passed earlier this month with over 71% of the vote:

If passed by Colorado voters in November, the “Right to Health Care Choice” citizens amendment would accomplish two hugely important steps to protect Coloradans from the ongoing takeover of health care by government, and to make Colorado a “sanctuary state” for quality health care. The “Right to Health Care Choice” amendment would:

Write into the Colorado Constitution that the State of Colorado cannot force its citizens to purchase a public or private health insurance product, either on its own, or on behalf of the federal government. In other words, Colorado would not be able to implement a Massachusetts-style insurance mandate (otherwise know as Romney Care).

The amendment would also constitutionally protect fee-for-service health care by ensuring the right to pay out of pocket for health care services and products if you so choose. This means even if Colorado were to implement a single payer heath care system, you would be free to engage in voluntary exchange with a health care provider outside the system.

I predict Colorado voters will approve this by a big margin. And I'll certainly do what I can to help make that happen. You can help, too. 

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2010

 Old Glory

Perhaps the finest words ever penned by man, from the document that changed the world for the better like no other before or since:  

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal 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 separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its 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, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Go read "The Americans Who Risked Everything," a wonderful speech by Rush Limbaugh, Jr. (father of talkmeister Rush Limbaugh III) about the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Here's an excerpt:

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half – 24 – were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: "With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone."

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: "Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

"The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

"If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens."

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

If you don't have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. Take the time this Independence Day to read it. Then raise a glass in a toast to Liberty!
 

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"

John Trumbull's "Declaration of Independence"
(from ushistory.org)

The painting features the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence — John Adams, Roger Sherman, Thomas Jefferson (presenting the document), and Benjamin Franklin — standing before John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress. The painting includes portraits of 42 of the 56 signers and 5 other patriots. The artist sketched the individuals and the room from life.

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Defending the rich

Posted by Richard on July 3, 2010

On the way home Thursday, I caught the tail end of Hugh Hewitt's interview of Ziad K. Abdelnour, President and CEO of Blackhawk Partners, a venture capital firm. I was impressed and made a note to look up the post by Abdelnour that they were discussing. Tonight, I finally got around to it. If you're only going to read one thing on the Internet this weekend, I urge you to read "Why we need the rich: A message to Americans – and our leaders in Washington DC – on wealth creation by a wealth creator." It begins thus:

It has an often repeated axiom that a person can learn a whole lot about a society by how it treats its poor. But just as much can be learned by looking at how that society treats its rich. Indeed, the economic future of the poor – and our nation – will be determined in the coming decades by how we treat the people in this country who create great wealth. It will be determined by our understanding of the so-called rich. And our ability to protect this minority. 

Please, please, please go read the whole thing. But if you won't, at least think about this: 

Socialist regimes try to guarantee the value of things rather than the ownership of them. Thus socialism tends to destroy the value, which depends on dedicated ownership. In the United States, on the other hand, the government normally guarantees only the right to property, not the worth of it. The belief that wealth consists not in ideas, attitudes, moral codes, and mental disciplines but in definable and static things that can be seized and redistributed is the materialist superstition.

It stultified the works of Marx and other prophets of violence and envy. It betrays every person who seeks to redistribute wealth by coercion. It balks every socialist revolutionary who imagines that by seizing the so-called means of production he can capture the crucial capital of an economy. It baffles nearly all conglomerateurs, who believe they can safely enter new industries by buying rather than by learning them. Capitalist means of production are not land, labor, or capital but minds and hearts.

The wealth of America isn't an inventory of goods; it's an organic, living entity, a fragile, pulsing fabric of ideas, expectations, loyalties, moral commitments, visions, and people. To vivisect it for redistribution would eventually kill it.

I'm reminded of Francisco D'Anconia's "Money Speech" from Atlas Shrugged. You should really read that, too. Please!

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The Cartel premiering in multiple cities

Posted by Richard on April 28, 2010

The Cartel, a feature-length documentary about the failures of the public school system and attempts to reform it, is premiering in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Washington DC, Philadelphia, and St. Louis on Friday, April 30, and in Denver on Tuesday, May 4. Special events and speakers are planned in many locations on opening night; go here for city-by-city information.

In Denver, the film will play at the Chez Artiste, 2800 S. Colorado Blvd. The 7 PM May 4 showing will be co-hosted by the Independence Institute and Liberty on the Rocks. Institute President John Caldera will speak briefly before the film, so arrive early. Afterward, Pam Benigno and Ben DeGrow of the Institute's Education Policy Center will take questions and lead discussion. 

The film, which focuses on New Jersey schools, has won numerous awards and lots of critical praise. It sold out its New York premier and screenings across New Jersey. Watch the trailer below, and some clips from the film here


[YouTube link]

The Cartel was made possible by the support of the Moving Picture Institute, which also brought us 2081, among others. Their motto is "Promoting Freedom Through Film." Please join me in supporting their efforts.

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