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Posts Tagged ‘liberty’

Help finalize the Contract From America

Posted by Richard on April 5, 2010

For almost a year, Tea Party Patriots, the umbrella organization for hundreds of local tea party groups, has been facilitating the creation of the Contract From America. Unlike the Republicans' 1994 Contract With America, the Contract From America has been a grassroots, bottom-up effort.

The planks were proposed by individuals from all walks of life throughout the country. Local tea party organizations discussed and debated them, helping to winnow the list down. And since January, over 360,000 people have voted for their top priorities. If you haven't, there's still time:

Right now, concerned citizens can visit the Contract FROM America website (www.contractfromamerica.org) and choose their top ten priorities from a list of 21 planks proposed by committed Americans from all walks of life. By asking website visitors to propose and vote on the agenda, the result will be not a list handed down from on high by old-bull politicians, but one handed up from the true grassroots in this country. Once voting is complete on Monday, April 5, 2010, the Contract will be finalized into a blueprint that will serve notice to public officials about what the people want for their future.

The top priority to date, chosen by over 80% of respondents:

Require each bill to identify the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does. (Proposed by: Brooke Storrs, Midland, MI)

Numbers two and three (virtually tied):

Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation's global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures. (Proposed by: Jan Heinricks, Spring, TX)

Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike. (Proposed by: Erik Carter, San Diego, CA)

As Dafydd observed (emphasis in original): 

what the winning plank tells us is that, contrary not only to charges by devious Democrats, ludicrous liberals, and lying lefties, but also by some confusticated conservatives, laughable libertarians, and even asinine anarchists, the Tea-Party popular front is neither "populist" nor "fascist" but simply constitutionalist.

But if you still believe the MSM narrative of tea partiers as racist, misogynist, and homophobic angry white male Christian fundamentalist militia members — well, you might want to look at some recent polling.

According to Politico, much of the leadership of the various tea party groups is female, and a recent Quinnipiac poll found that the majority of the membership may be female, too. A Gallup poll released today found that tea party supporters were in most respects "quite representative of the public at large." Quinnipiac and Gallup aren't exactly right-leaning pollsters. 

Rasmussen — generally considered a more right-leaning pollster (largely because he surveys likely voters instead of just registered voters or all adults, like many other pollsters) — reported today that, although only 16% of voters identify themselves as part of the tea party movement, 48% of them think the average tea party member is closer to their views, while only 44% think the President is closer to their views.

So here's my take: The tea party movement is all about the Constitution, limited government, fiscal conservatism, and individual liberty. And it's becoming the new mainstream.

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Health care haiku

Posted by Richard on March 25, 2010

This poetic gem was posted as a comment on Hot Air:

If you have a Right
To the service I provide,
I must be a Slave.

Haiku Guy on March 24, 2010 at 5:25 AM

(HT: Doug Ross)

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A good week for liberty

Posted by Richard on January 22, 2010

It's been a good week for Liberty, hasn't it? First Amendment rights restored, socialized medicine derailed, socialist Democrats repudiated in Massachusetts (of all places) and in trouble in California and all across the country — is that a boatload of good news, or what?

I've been in the throes of a bad cold all week, and somewhat down as a consequence, but I'm getting over it now — and feeling pretty damned good about how things have been going lately. 🙂 Don't let up, Friends of Liberty, we've got them on the run!

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Warren’s best cartoons of 2009

Posted by Richard on December 31, 2009

GetLiberty.org has posted the best William Warren cartoons of the year. I especially liked the take-off on the MasterCard ads. Enjoy!

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A couple of gift ideas for liberty lovers

Posted by Richard on December 16, 2009

If you're looking for a last-minute gift for a liberty lover (maybe yourself?), the Independence Institute, Colorado's free-market think tank, offers a couple of interesting options.

For someone in this area, there's the upcoming winter seminar, Free People, Free Markets: The Foundations of Liberty. It's two Saturdays (Jan. 30 and Feb. 13) at the Independence Institute offices in Golden, eight hours each, and costs $75 (non-credit; college credit is available at a higher cost). Previous attendees of this seminar have lavished praise on it. 

For that potentially special someone anywhere (hopefully with a sense of humor), there's the "Noble" Prize for their future accomplishments, a lovely medallion that will set you back only $25. But hurry on that one — "Quantities are EXTREMELY limited!"

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Celebrating the triumph of liberty

Posted by Richard on November 9, 2009

Twenty years ago today, residents of the slave state known as the Democratic Republic of Germany danced atop the Berlin Wall with their West German brethren and rushed through the suddenly open gates to freedom — a freedom that thousands had been killed for attempting to reach. It was the beginning of the end for the Iron Curtain, the Soviet Empire, and the subjugation of hundreds of millions under brutal collectivist regimes. It was arguably the most momentous event since the end of World War II.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who herself walked from East Germany to freedom that day, is leading the appropriately massive celebrations taking place all day today in Berlin. Joining her are Mikhail Gorbachev, Lech Walesa, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, and the leaders of all 27 European Union countries.

Absent is the leader of the country most responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall, the country that made possible the survival of West Berlin to see that glorious day. President Obama declined Chancellor Merkel's invitation to attend, saying he was too busy. So let's see what his schedule for today looks like: 

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
_______________________________________________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2009

DAILY GUIDANCE AND PRESS SCHEDULE FOR
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 2009

In the morning, the President will receive the Presidential Daily Briefing, the Economic Daily Briefing, and meet with senior advisors in the Oval Office. These meetings are closed press.

In the evening, the President will sign an Executive Order on the employment of veterans in the federal government in the Oval Office. Through this Executive Order, the President will make the Federal Government the model employer of Veterans. The Executive Order establishes a Council on Veterans Employment and a Veterans Employment Program office within most Federal agencies. The signing is closed press.

The President will then meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.

In-Town Travel Pool
Wires: AP, Reuters, Bloomberg
Wire Photos: AP, Reuters, AFP
TV Corr & Crew: CNN
Print: CQ
Radio: VOA
Travel Photo: TIME

EST

9:00AM Pool Call Time

10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

6:45PM THE PRESIDENT signs the Veterans Employment Initiative Executive Order
Oval Office
Closed Press

7:00PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel
Oval Office
Closed Press

Briefing Schedule

12:30PM Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

##

The Office of the Press Secretary doesn't disclose with whom the President is playing golf in the afternoon. 

When I learned that Mikhail Gorbachev was attending the ceremonies today in Berlin, I felt a bit of a lump in my throat. The man who should really be there, but who's no longer with us — the man who, more than any other, brought about that day of liberation in 1989 — is the man who issued this challenge to Gorbachev in 1987: 

“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!”

To watch, listen to, or read President Reagan's address at the Brandenburg Gate, go here.  

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Canada’s sperm shortage and related matters

Posted by Richard on September 3, 2009

Mark Steyn was the "undocumented guest host" today on the Rush Limbaugh Show. I listened to a bit of it at lunch, and he totally cracked me up. It seems that Canada is suffering from a sperm shortage. The entire nation of 30 million people has only 33 sperm donors.

I figured Steyn had probably written a funny column about that. But before I got around to looking for it, a friend had sent me the link. It's quintessential Steyn — brilliant writing, wicked humor, and groan-inducing word play sprinkled with enough serious truths to make it more than an amusing trifle. Canada's sperm shortage, you see, was created by the government:

… Apparently, the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act makes it illegal to pay donors for sperm. I mean, it wasn’t even the usual Canadian Wheat Board-type racket whereby you’d only be able to sell your seed to the Canadian Sperm Board at a price agreed upon by representatives of the federal-provincial Semen Commissions. Instead, they just nixed the whole deal, and, once Johnny Canuck found out he wasn’t going to be remunerated, virtually the entire supply dried up.

As a result, this once proud Dominion now has to import sperm. According to CTV, 80 per cent of Canadian women who conceive through donor sperm are getting it from the United States, mainly from men in Georgia and northern Florida. Canada’s future is now in American hands.

You know how it is: you wait ages for a good sperm story and then they all come at once. It seems there’s also a shortage of the stuff in Sweden. But, in contrast to Canada, this is caused not by government intervention in supply but by a surge in demand, from Swedish lesbian couples anxious to conceive. Inga and Britta had been trying for a child for ages but nothing seemed to work. Then it occurred to them this might be because they’re both women. So they headed off to the sperm clinic, whereupon the Sapphic demand ran into the problem of male inability to satisfy it. There appear to be higher than usual levels of non-functioning sperm.

Don’t worry, I’m not being Swedophobic in mocking the watery emissions of Nordic manhood. It’s a widespread problem: “Concern As Sperm Count Falls By A Third In UK Men” (the Daily Mail, 2004). … Still, even for a demographic doom-monger such as myself, you could hardly ask for a more poignant fin de civilisation image than a stampede of broody lesbians stymied only by defective semen, like some strange dystopian collaboration between Robert Heinlein and Russ Meyer set in a world divided into muff divers and duff donors.

 Read the whole thing . Then delve deep into the 490+ comments — really, it's worth it. Some are unintentionally funny, and others are intentionally funny (a call for a "cash for spunkers" program). Some add useful information and insights (another cause of Canada's problem: their courts have held sperm donors liable for child support!). And some are just good comments:

george: I'm shocked that anyone alive today is still able to write like this.

Kevin: The idea that sexual freedom is the only freedom left is met by an immediate cry to censor. Who said Irony was dead?

reliapundit: liberty without natural law isn't libertarianism; it's libertinage.

the postmodern left has rejected natural law and embraced moral and cultural relativism.

these people want a paternal state in which the parent supplies food, shelter, clothing an allowance but also let's them stay out all night uses drugs sleepo with anybody and anything and not be required contribute a penny to household expenses or work doing any hopusehold chores.

iow: postmodern lefists are the functional equivalents of teenagers.

I think reliapundit is onto something. In my experience, we are simply awash in mature adults who are the functional equivalents of teenagers. And the vast majority of them are leftists.

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Rediscovering Frederick Douglass

Posted by Richard on July 7, 2009

Jonathan Bean:

Some 157 years ago, in 1852, the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass delivered his “Fourth of July Oration” condemning America for practicing slavery and thereby failing to live up to the humane ideals expressed by the Declaration of Independence.

“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” Douglass thundered. “I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.”

Douglass’s words might seem passé on Independence Day 2009, with Barack Obama occupying the White House, several black Americans serving as governors, and others running everything from the Republican National Committee to Fortune 500 companies. But the words of the Sage of Anacostia remain not only relevant, but essential. Why? Douglass unfailingly opposed any man’s exercising control over another, and he would be appalled, his writings suggest, by the new spirit of dependency and control ushered in with the Age of Obama. Douglass championed limited constitutional government, colorblind law, capitalism, hard work, and self-help. His principles are not the stuff of “New New Deals” but rather a brief for a “New Independence Day” based on small-government principles.

Read. The. Whole. Thing.

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2009

Note: This is a near-duplicate of last year's Independence Day post. Because every bit of it is something that we should all read and think about every Independence Day, and there's no point in trying to update or improve it. One change: Rush Limbaugh, bless his heart, never did move his father's fine speech, "The Americans Who Risked Everything," to the subscriber portion of his site. It's still available to everyone at the link below, and I assume it will continue to be. So go read it!

 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.

Last Independence Day, I posted an excerpt from "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. Please go read that excerpt.

(Note: Through the weekend, you can read the whole speech in the public portion of Rush's site; after that, it will again disappear into the subscriber-only portion of the site.)

After the portion I previously excerpted, Limbaugh went on to provide specific details about the price paid by some of the signers for their courageous act. Then he summarized:

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

His son then added the following postscript:

My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house – in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged "parchments" we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history.

There is no more profound sentence than this: "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…"

These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries. They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit.

"Sacred honor" isn't a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders' legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.

If you don't have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. I, too, suggest you take the time this Independence Day to read it. Better yet, if you're celebrating with a crowd, have the best speaker in the group read it out loud to everyone. While they're enjoying a brew and waiting for the burgers and brats to cook. Then, all of you raise a glass.

To Liberty, my friends! 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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Is racism natural?

Posted by Richard on May 14, 2009

Dafydd at Big Lizards (don't let the banner blind you) says that racism is the most natural thing in the world. So much so that most racists don't even realize that that's what they are. But he argues that "natural" and "good" aren't synonymous, and that we should be glad that we've developed an alternative to this primitive, "natural" way of thinking (emphasis in original; I'm tempted to add my own, but instead just encourage you to read the following carefully and thoughtfully):

Racism is simply tribalism, where the tribe is expanded to encompass everyone of the same color or gross physiognomy. Western civilization is powerfully anti-racist because it's anti-tribalist; it redefines the comfort-group to a set determined by culture, not by skin color or facial features. That is why Western Borg culture led the way towards the abolition of racial slavery — and why many non-Western cultures, particularly in Moslemdom, still cannot understand what is wrong with that "peculiar institution."

(I use the term "Western Borg culture" because Western civilization is so powerful and attractive that it assimilates every culture it comes into contact with; resistance is futile.)

The song from South Pacific, "You've Got To Be Carefully Taught," has it exactly backwards: Racism is the default state; what must be carefully taught is individualism: Not the I-me-mine kind of narcissism found in infants and liberals, but the full-monty philosophy that other people are also individuals deserving of as much respect and liberty as we, unless by their own actions they forfeit that respect.

That philosophy is bizarre, unnatural, and incomprehensible to very young children and very primitive peoples. Fortunately, the economic version of individualism — Capitalism — is such a powerful wealth producer that (a) Western countries are rich enough to mandate liberty (subsistance societies haven't the luxury), and (b) the smell of money lures the primitive towards liberty, Capitalism, and individualism by another completely natural deadly sin: Envy.

Thus does God — if He exists — turn even human failings to His own purposes.

Amen. Amen, amen, amen!

One of the greatest evils of the modern (post-industrial-revolution) era is the romanticist philosophy of which Rousseau is one of the earliest and most prominent proponents: the belief that there is something noble, clean, and pure about uncivilized savages. There is not.

As Rand said decades ago, ideas matter. And the ideas of the Enlightenment, Industrial Revolution, and concomitant political movements (the American Revolution chief among them) led to vast improvements in the moral state of most human beings. Not the least of which was the widespread (except in the Muslim world) rejection of chattel slavery for the first time in human history. 

Racism is natural — but so is botulism. Both are destructive poisons. 

It's reason, the Enlightenment, individualism, and the philosophy of natural rights and liberty that have enabled us to transcend our "natural" and primitive urges, fears, and superstitions — and thank goodness that we have.

Most of us, anyway.

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FreeColorado.com wins top Sam Adams award

Posted by Richard on April 7, 2009

Ari Armstrong's FreeColorado.com has won the highest honor in this year's Samuel Adams Alliance Sammie Awards competition, the "Modern-Day Sam Adams Award." Armstrong's award, according to the Sam Adams Alliance, is significant and noteworthy:

Armstrong wins the $10,000 prize for his relentless—and ubiquitous—defense of free markets and individual liberty in the state of Colorado. He is author of FreeColorado.com and a columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press. In the last year, Ari’s work has been published in the Rocky Mountain News, Colorado Springs Gazette, Denver Post Online, and featured on numerous radio and television news programs. 

According to FreeColorado.com, the Sammie Awards will be presented later this month by luminaries of the pro-freedom movement: 

Armstrong will receive his "Golden Sammie" April 18 in Chicago. Presenting the awards will be Michelle Malkin, Stephen Moore, John Fund, Jonathan Hoenig, Mary Katharine, and Joe "The Plumber" Wurzelbacher.

In his entry, Armstrong summarized his "food stamp" diets of 2007 and 2009, his fight against political correctness (as with the "bitch slap" controversy of 2008), his work on health policy, and various other projects.

Armstrong said, "I congratulate the other winners and look forward to learning from their example. I thank the Sam Adams Alliance for recognizing the important work for liberty done at the regional level. Finally, I thank my fellow liberty activists in Colorado — especially my wife — for teaching me so much about liberty, individual rights, and free markets, and how to advocate those values through intellectual activism. This award is for you, my brothers and sisters in liberty."

Armstrong founded FreeColorado.com (then co-freedom.com) in late 1998, before the term "blog" had been coined.

My heartiest congratulations to Ari, a most deserving recipient of this award. He is an intelligent, articulate, and passionate advocate of the freedom philosophy, and I'm proud to have worked with him in the Libertarian Party of Colorado in the years that I was active in that organization. Bravo, Ari!

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Happy Bill of Rights Day!

Posted by Richard on December 16, 2008

Bill of Rights DayOn December 15, 1791, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, were ratified by Virginia and became part of the Constitution. Bill of Rights Day was first declared by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1941.

In recent years, no organization has supported Bill of Rights Day more tirelessly than Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, which has lots of resources and information aimed at re-establishing a Bill of Rights culture. Check it out.

The Second Amendment Foundation and Independent Institute are urging people to buy a book for Bill of Rights Day:

December 15 marks America’s Bill of Rights Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. To commemorate this event, we have created the Second Amendment Book Bomb, a unique and powerful way to communicate the importance of the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment for the protection of liberty. With your help, we can launch constitutional rights to the top of national book bestseller lists, making a loud and clear statement that Second Amendment rights are unalienable!

As you know, the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2008 landmark District of Columbia v. Heller ruling finally affirmed that the Founders fully intended the Second Amendment to protect an individual right to own and bear arms. The renowned Second Amendment scholar and lawyer Dr. Stephen P. Halbrook, Research Fellow at The Independent Institute, was key to the Heller victory—as well as to three previous gun-rights victories in cases before the Supreme Court. And his definitive defense of the Second Amendment is now available in The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms the first in-depth, book-length account of the origins of the Second Amendment and the most readable, comprehensive, and compelling work ever assembled arguing that the right to own a gun is as fundamental under the U.S. Constitution as freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

I just ordered two from Amazon.

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Envisioning the worst-case future

Posted by Richard on October 15, 2008

In his latest Weekly Standard column, Fred Barnes foresaw a bleak future for advocates of liberty and limited government (as if it isn't bleak enough, with half the nation's Republicans embracing Keynesian economic policies):

Thanks particularly to the month-long financial crisis, Republicans are in extremely poor shape with the election three weeks away. This means the worst case scenario is now a distinct possibility: a Democrat in the White House, a Democratic Senate with a filibuster-proof majority, and a Democratic House with a bolstered majority.

If this scenario unfolds, Washington would become a solidly liberal town again for the first time in decades. And the prospects of passing the liberal agenda–nearly all of it–would be bright. Enacting major parts of it would be even brighter. You can forget about bipartisanship.

The specifics are grim: big tax rate increases, liberal court appointments, protectionism, the fairness doctrine, Canada-like health care, card-check and other pro-union measures, cap-and-trade… Read the whole thing. 

Stephen Green, after an admittedly large intake of wine, envisioned new threats to free speech and in particular to bloggers:

If (when?) Obama is elected, by my estimation there’s an at least even chance that the newly-reconstructed FCC will reverse course and attempt to apply the New Fairness Doctrine to blogs.

If (when?) it happens, I’ll break that law. I will break it with all due malice and in full knowledge of the possible consequences. I’ll shout “Fire Obama!” in a crowded theater. And then, for the first time ever, I’ll ask for reader donations. Because I’ll going to need them, lots of them, to pay for the lawyers.

Green went on to make a point that dovetails with something I've maintained for some time — the left views its opponents as evil enemies to be crushed by any means necessary, and they're willing and eager to use any means necessary. The libertarian/conservative side simply can't and won't fight on that level: 

Libertarians/Conservatives like “Jay” and myself underestimate liberals/progressives — and what we’re guilty of is projection. But when we’re drunk and honest, we have to admit: We’re effing pikers. To restate more plainly: We don’t want power, and don’t know how to wield it. We’re pikers.

Progressives have no such qualms. Given power, they’ll take more and they’ll exercise it ruthlessly. Look at the Democrats in Congress these last two years. In not even 24 months, they’ve sunk to depths it took the Republican Congress six or more years to sink to. Their unpopularity levels are even worse than the Republicans’ in 2006. And what will happen in November? The Democrats will win seats — because they know how to wield their power to deliver the goods to please their corrupt, greedy, grabby, needy base.

I hope Barnes and Green are too pessimistic, but it's not looking good. 

Green was concerned enough to blast email his many influential contacts (and me, too) with "My First-Ever Mass Mailing In Almost Eight Years of Blogging," which may lead to some kind of organization or movement, or something. Maybe not right now, but probably — if the polls turn out to be right this time. 

Stay tuned. 

 

 

 

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Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Richard on July 4, 2008

 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.

Last Independence Day, I posted an excerpt from "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. Please go read that excerpt.

(Note: Through the weekend, you can read the whole speech in the public portion of Rush's site; after that, it will again disappear into the subscriber-only portion of the site.)

After the portion I previously excerpted, Limbaugh went on to provide specific details about the price paid by some of the signers for their courageous act. Then he summarized:

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons' lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man's heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: "No."

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. "And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

His son then added the following postscript:

My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house – in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged "parchments" we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history.

There is no more profound sentence than this: "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…"

These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries. They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit.

"Sacred honor" isn't a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders' legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.

If you don't have a copy of the Declaration handy, you can find the entire text here. I, too, suggest you take the time this Independence Day to read it. Better yet, if you're celebrating with a crowd, have the best speaker in the group read it out loud to everyone. While they're enjoying a brew and waiting for the burgers and brats to cook. Then, all of you raise a glass.

To Liberty, my friends! 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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Appeals court rules against child seizures

Posted by Richard on May 22, 2008

This decision strikes me as a victory for parental rights, civil liberties, and the rule of law:

SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) — A Texas appeals court said Thursday that the state had no right to take more than 400 children from a polygamist sect's ranch, a ruling that could unravel one of the biggest child-custody cases in U.S. history.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the state offered "legally and factually insufficient" grounds for the "extreme" measure of removing all children from the ranch, from babies to teenagers.

The state never provided evidence that the children were in any immediate danger, the only grounds in Texas law for taking children from their parents without court approval, the appeals court said. The state never provided evidence that teenage girls were being sexually abused, and never alleged any sexual or physical abuse against the other children, the court said.

"The existence of the FLDS belief system as described by the department's witnesses, by itself, does not put children of FLDS parents in physical danger," the court said in its ruling, overturning the order to keep the children by state District Judge Barbara Walther, a former family law attorney.

The appeals court also said the state was wrong to consider the entire ranch as an individual household and that any abuse claims could apply only to individual households.

This story doesn't mention the anonymous phone calls cited at the time as grounds for the warrant. Considering what we've learned since, the state probably didn't rely on that "evidence" during the appeal.

 The caller claimed she was a 16-year-old girl at the compound who was being abused by her uncle-husband. Authorities had no idea who (or where) the caller was and no corroboration of the story, but a judge signed off on the warrant anyway.

Weeks later, investigators determined that the caller was actually a 33-year-old Colorado woman, Rozita Swinton, who's made similar hoax calls on other occasions (and is apparently very convincing).

Many of the other claims made by Child Protective Services to justify taking the 400+ kids have also fallen apart:

Roughly a third of the children taken from the west Texas ranch were babies, and only a few dozen were teenage girls.   Of the 31 originally believed to be underage mothers, 15 have been reclassified as adults — one was 27 years old — and the state conceded a 14-year-old girl had no children and was not pregnant, as officials previously asserted.

About the time that Swinton was identified, an old friend wrote me about this case, and I recall thinking I should read up on it and post something. But it was during one of my distracted periods, and I never did. I never replied to that email, either; sorry, John! I'll make amends by quoting your message, which says it as well as I could:

I am perplexed that there is no real uproar over the raid on the LDS compound in Texas. Putting aside any judgments about the issues of plural marriage and young marriages (btw, just why do we ban plural marriage?), the raid was based on a single call [several, but the point's still valid -ed.] to a non-governmental center and was anonymous at that. There was no evidence presented. There was no smoking gun. And now it seems that the call was a hoax. Where are the civil libertarians when it comes to this raid? What happened to the ACLU?

I certainly am not arguing that the call should not have been investigated, nor am I defending the compound. I do think more time and effort should have been invested in finding out if the story even made sense. The state had time to organize the raid, which involved hundreds of law enforcement and human services employees, but not enough time to find out if the call was even real. Using anonymous sources to get warrants as was done here violates our constitutional rights to face our accusers. When justice and our rights under the constitution become situational we are indeed in trouble.

And yet I see no one asking the essential question of the state of Texas, "Do you have this right?" I know this will play out in court and be settled after long years and much expense but the lives of the 400+ children are being sacrificed in the process, along with those of their parents.

Thanks to this appeals court ruling, this case may play out much sooner than John anticipated. But that doesn't change the fact that the local and state authorities acted outrageously.

I suppose it could have been worse. If Rosita Swinton had claimed that her uncle-husband-abuser had an illegal automatic weapon, the whole "compound" and everyone in it might have gone up in flames, like that other weird religious group in Texas.

UPDATE: Walter in Denver was pleasantly surprised by this ruling, too. That reminds me — I really should have congratulated Walter for winning that Vodkapundit caption contest. Outstanding! 

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