Friday, July 30, 2010

Brown Eyed Son

Ah, the Eighties. Narrow ties, leg warmers, and new pop; a sense of reawakening, as the gloomy 70s receded in the rear view mirror. Hence, we got this:

There's something to be said for just having fun.

Mitch Berg at Shot in the Dark dug this up; I just had to pass it along.

I Think You Missed Something

Two bumperstickers, seen on a car on my drive into work this morning.

The first:

Proudly Annoying SKIERS
Since 1984

Then below that, the second:


I think his latent passive-aggressive tendencies might be clouding his judgement.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Annointed Ones

For decades, journalists have held themselves up as the only honest brokers in the game, the only people who could be trusted to bring unvarnished truth to the befuddled masses. They nobly (at least in their estimation) prowled the shadows, ready to pounce on any inane comment in order to hold it up as proof positive of prejudice/corruption/bias/hypocracy/opposition to the cause du jour.

And The Daily Caller has proven the journalists to be even greater hypocrites than those the press annointed themselves to exposing.

This begs one enormous question: why should the press be trusted any more than anyone or anything else?

The answer is that they should not. Yes, I realize that was pretty obvious. But the implications of this answer are not nearly as obvious, for now it creates a new information problem. What is the truth, and who says it is?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trust But Verify

Turns out old habits die hard, like the Russians and cheating. From the Washington Times:

Russia violated '91 START till end, U.S. report finds

Russia continued to violate provisions of the 1991 START nuclear-arms treaty up until the agreement expired in December, raising new concerns that Moscow will violate the pending "New START" treaty now being debated for ratification in the Senate.

The 2010 State Department report on arms-control compliance, which had been requested by Senate Republicans as part of the START ratification debate, also discloses new details showing Iran is secretly working on nuclear-missile warheads, and includes new information about nuclear programs by North Korea and Syria.

On Russia's START violations, the report stated: "Notwithstanding the overall success of START implementation, a number of long-standing compliance issues that were raised in the START Treaty's Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC) remained unresolved when the Treaty expired on December 5, 2009."

The unclassified report, "Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments," is set to be released publicly Wednesday. A copy of the report was obtained by The Washington Times.

[Eliminated for length]

The recent violations were not identified in detail. However, the report stated that past violations included Moscow's blocking inspections of mobile missile warheads — a significant problem that specialists say could allow Russia to create a large, hidden warhead stockpile.

The 2005 survey reported those violations and also the issue of Russia's failure to provide data tapes containing information provided by missile flight tests to ground stations, known as telemetry.

Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican and a key voice in the START ratification debate, stated in a speech in October that Russia also violated START by its development of a multiple-warhead SS-27 missile variant that he said showed Moscow "cheated," if not in the letter then the spirit of the 1991 treaty.

Mr. Kyl said the administration needed to tell the Senate whether the violations outlined in the 2005 report had been resolved and whether there are provisions for dealing with treaty violations with the new agreement.
So they cheated when they said they wouldn't. Big surprise there. Why did we give them everything they wanted this time, in the 2010 START accords?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Happy Pioneer Day tomorrow! I'm outta here...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Revolutions

Presenting an oldie but a goodie from one of the more greatest video essayists of today, Bill Whittle. Take ten minutes and watch it all.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Those who revel in exposing the unkind words of others don't like it when their own unkind words are exposed.

As reported by Jim Geraghty at Campaign Spot:
A JournoList Contributor Apologizes

Sara Spitz, the producer for KCRW who was quoted in today’s Daily Caller story, apologizes:
I made poorly considered remarks about Rush Limbaugh to what I believed was a private email discussion group from my personal email account. As a publicist, I realize more than anyone that is no excuse for irresponsible behavior. I apologize to anyone I may have offended and I regret these comments greatly; they do not reflect the values by which I conduct my life.
Everyone says (or in this case, writes) things they regret; a key measuring stick of ourselves is what we do afterwards.
Geraghty, being a better man than I am, is willing to let things end here. (The commentors on the post, however, do not. The usual warnings about comment sections apply.)

But this apology seems to ring a bit hollow. A bit of context is in order before proceeding; so to Jonathan Strong at The Daily Caller:
If you were in the presence of a man having a heart attack, how would you respond? As he clutched his chest in desperation and pain, would you call 911? Would you try to save him from dying? Of course you would.

But if that man was Rush Limbaugh, and you were Sarah Spitz, a producer for National Public Radio (update: Spitz was a producer for NPR affiliate KCRW for the show Left, Right & Center), that isn’t what you’d do at all.

In a post to the list-serv Journolist, an online meeting place for liberal journalists, Spitz wrote that she would “Laugh loudly like a maniac and watch his eyes bug out” as Limbaugh writhed in torment.

In boasting that she would gleefully watch a man die in front of her eyes, Spitz seemed to shock even herself. “I never knew I had this much hate in me,” she wrote. “But he deserves it.”

Spitz’s hatred for Limbaugh seems intemperate, even imbalanced. On Journolist, where conservatives are regarded not as opponents but as enemies, it barely raised an eyebrow.
Values are with you always, even when you are angry. So it is not unreasonable to suggest that Ms. Spitz do some careful thinking about what the values by which she conducts her daily life are, and how well she abides by them. When compared with her words, Ms. Spitz's apology is more a statement of shame than contrition; one of anger at apprehension than of reflection.

Before you go and say, "But those words were in private, amongst friends," I urge you to reconsider. The press extends no such provisions to those they cover - not even you - if those comments are part of a story they want to tell.

Now the press can get hoist on its own petard.

Friday, July 16, 2010

If I Die Young

"If I Die Young," by The Band Perry.

New band, at least to me, and this song is just starting to climb the charts. I defy you to get this song out of your head this weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Friday afternoon is so close, and yet so very far away.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Where The Streets Have No Name - Muse & the Edge

Just for the fun of it - some music on a Monday. Muse and U2's Edge perform at Glastonbury Music Festival.

"They Don't Understand That We Also Dream"

Ronald Reagan radio commentary, from sometime between 1975-1979. During the years between the end of his governorship in California and the start of his successful campaign for the presidency in 1980, Reagan gave over a thousand of these short addresses. Most of them he wrote himself on yellow legal pads, now part of the Reagan Library collection.

"Socialists ignore the side of man that is of the Spirit. They can provide shelter, fill your belly with bacon and beans, treat you when you're ill; all the things that are guaranteed to a prisoner or a slave. They don't understand that we also dream."

Friday, July 09, 2010

Forget About It

Have I already mentioned I really like Alison Krauss & Union Station?

One Way To Save Time

One Way to Save Time [Jay Nordlinger]

Few weeks ago, The New Republic had a long, long piece on how Obama and the Democrats got Obamacare through. It was called “How They Did It: The inside account of health care reform’s triumph.” Don’t you love that “health care reform”? Isn’t it interesting how conservatives’ proposals — liberalizing ones — aren’t called “reform”? Only socialization is? Anyway, this was a very long piece, sort of a little book. Someone gave it to me to read. And I thought I’d give it a try.

Before settling in to read it, I sort of scanned it — and my eyes fell on this sentence: “Conservative protesters descended upon Capitol Hill, marching on the lawn and through the House office buildings, hurling racial and homophobic epithets, and — in one case — saliva at Democrats.”

First of all, the punctuation is wrong; there should be a comma after “saliva.” But that’s not the point. I have read quite a bit about this matter: about how the protesters allegedly screamed, or uttered, the “N-word,” and how one of them spat. (Someone did make an anti-gay remark.) And I happen to know these allegations are baloney — or at least very, very much in dispute. Yet this author presented them as fact.

The rest of his article might have been 100 percent accurate — but I didn’t read it. Once you’ve read something like the passage I’ve quoted, you just can’t trust the rest. You know? If he was willing to say that — what else was he willing to say?

Yesterday, I turned to a piece in The Spectator — one of those “realist critiques” they like to run. This one was called “Obama is in hock to the hawks.” And, before really reading, I happened to light on this: “Bush sought to eliminate terrorism by pursuing his ‘freedom agenda’ (liberty imposed at the point of bayonet).” Oh, I see. That was the freedom agenda. Nothing to do with aid to civil-society groups in Egypt and so on (aid that Obama has drastically cut). I could not read the article. Maybe you could have.

P.S. You think the New Republic writer should try to collect Andrew Breitbart’s 100 grand — the money he is offering for proof that the protesters used a racial epithet? You see, liberals need this to be true: because they are invested in the belief that the “tea party” is racist. It’s not just that tea-party activists have a different view of the economy and government. They hate blacks. And if the protesters didn’t use the N-word — well, they should have, according to liberal belief.
Jay hits on something that has been bugging me for a long time. When a writer introduces an allegation as settled fact, makes a claim that insults my intelligence, or throws in a gratuitous insult without bearing as a way of beginning an article - why does that author think I would be willing to waste my time reading the rest of it? It demonstrates a deliberate disrespect for one's potential audience, a lack of seriousness about your writing, and a pandering to low tastes. And where are these people's editors?

It's one thing to expose oneself to contrary views; quite another to slam your head against the wall.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Modern Martyrs

I suspect that you, like I, think that men being forced to die for their faith is something out of the distant past. That being put to death for professing Christianity is an ancient horror story.

We would be wrong.

Jay Nordlinger today here and here:
Son Jong Nam, R.I.P.   [Jay Nordlinger]
Did you forget about North Korea? Oh, I’m sorry, let me remind you. Here’s a little news snippet. Son Jong Nam was “tortured to death for trying to spread the Gospel in his native land, armed with 20 bibles and 10 cassette tapes of hymns. He was 50.”

Don’t want to read any more? I don’t blame you, but I’m going to keep going.
In January 2001, Son was arrested by Chinese police for allegedly trying to convert North Korean defectors in China, which bans foreigners from proselytizing. He was deported home in April, where he was detained and tortured, leaving him with a limp, his brother said. He lost about 70 pounds (32 kilograms) in captivity.

“He was beaten in the head with clubs and given electric shocks,” his brother says, his eyes welling up with tears.
Ah, well, big deal, he lived. Besides, he was a Jesus freak — and you know how icky they are. More from the article:
Son was released in 2004 and sneaked across the border to Yanji to see his daughter, who had been left in the care of a Chinese missionary. He soon decided to return to North Korea to proselytize.
You mean, he went back? One season of torture wasn’t enough for him? Here is another quote from his brother: “I repeatedly urged him to change his mind, but he told me he has something to do in North Korea.”

Okay, let me finish up:
Son was arrested again in January 2006 after police found bibles at his home in the northeastern city of Hoeryong. He was also charged with spying for the United States and South Korea and sentenced to public execution by firing squad.

His brother launched an international campaign to save him. That apparently led his captors to switch to a less public method: torture. “There are many ways to kill people in North Korea,” says his brother.
Oh, for sure. You know, for the last eight years, I’ve heard that the United States tortures people. Can we please have a word other than “torture” for whatever our people did to Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in an effort to prevent further mass murder? KSM, as you remember, was the “mastermind” of the 9/11 attacks. He personally beheaded Daniel Pearl. Etc. Alternatively, could we have another word for what real torturers do, in places such as North Korea and China?

KSM is fat and happy, sitting in Gitmo with his elliptical machine and Red Cross visits. (Maybe he is not using his elliptical machine so much, being fat as well as happy.) Anyway, I’ll quit fuming (for a moment). For the complete article from which I’ve quoted, go here.
A P.S. on Son Jong Nam   [Jay Nordlinger]
You may like to know how Son got to be what he became. He started out as a good boy — a loyal North Korean. He served in the “presidential security service” for ten years. Was all hot to fight the “American imperialists,” etc. But then something happened: “His wife, eight months pregnant at the time, was arrested for allegedly saying Kim Jong Il had ruined the economy and caused a mass famine.” “Allegedly,” mind you: She only allegedly blurted out the truth. “Interrogators seeking a confession kicked her in the stomach, forcing her to discharge blood and have a miscarriage.”
So, Son fled with his family to China. His wife soon died. And that’s when he began his other life . . .

An Assassin Missed

Fortunately, Jay Nordlinger minces no words.

The PLO Misses Him; Israel Missed Him [Jay Nordlinger]

So, they missed one: Israel’s secret services missed one. He was Mohammed Oudeh, the “mastermind” of the Munich Olympics massacre. Who was massacred? Nine Israeli athletes. And Oudeh died in his bed, dammit. He was in Syria, which may not surprise you: Syria is exactly the sort of country to harbor Mohammed Oudeh.

I should put that differently: The Syrian dictatorship is exactly the sort of government to harbor Oudeh. (Just as Saddam Hussein harbored Abu Abbas, Abu Nidal, etc.)

In his later years, Oudeh said, “I regret nothing. You can only dream that I would apologize.” Mohammed, I don’t even dream it, believe me. He did one good thing in his life, as far as I’m concerned. He titled his autobiography “Memoirs of a Palestinian Terrorist.” I don’t care whether he meant it ironically: It’s still a just title.

Mahmoud Abbas, the great moderate in the West Bank, wrote a letter of condolence to the late terrorist’s family: “He is missed. He was one of the leading figures of Fatah and spent his life in resistance and sincere work as well as physical sacrifice for his people’s just causes.”

Uh-huh. Bear in mind that President Obama has much better relations with Abbas and the PLO than he does with the Israeli government.

The Ant Farm Analogy

Thanks to Kathryn Lopez at The Corner

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Lively World of Great Northern

A promotional movie by the Great Northern Railway, just before its merger into the Burlington Northern in 1970. This is state of the art railroading, circa 1969.

A big thanks goes to "mwmnp25" on Youtube, for making these available.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Speech on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence

Speech on the Occasion of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence

Calvin Coolidge
July 4, 1926
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

We meet to celebrate the birthday of America. The coming of a new life always excites our interest. Although we know in the case of the individual that it has been an infinite repetition reaching back beyond our vision, that only makes it the more wonderful. But how our interest and wonder increase when we behold the miracle of the birth of a new nation. It is to pay our tribute of reverence and respect to those who participated in such a mighty event that we annually observe the fourth day of July. Whatever may have been the impression created by the news which went out from this city on that summer day in 1776, there can be no doubt as to the estimate which is now placed upon it. At the end of 150 years the four corners of the earth unite in coming to Philadelphia as to a holy shrine in grateful acknowledgement of a service so great, which a few inspired men here rendered to humanity, that it is still the preeminent support of free government throughout the world.

Although a century and a half measured in comparison with the length of human experience is but a short time, yet measured in the life of governments and nations it ranks as a very respectable period. Certainly enough time has elapsed to demonstrate with a great deal of thoroughness the value of our institutions and their dependability as rules for the regulation of human conduct and the advancement of civilization. They have been in existence long enough to become very well seasoned. They have met, and met successfully, the test of experience.

It is not so much then for the purpose of undertaking to proclaim new theories and principles that this annual celebration is maintained, but rather to reaffirm and reestablish those old theories and principles which time and the unerring logic of events have demonstrated to be sound. Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics, every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken. Whatever perils appear, whatever dangers threaten, the Nation remains secure in the knowledge that the ultimate application of the law of the land will provide an adequate defense and protection.

It is little wonder that people at home and abroad consider Independence Hall as hallowed ground and revere the Liberty Bell as a sacred relic. That pile of bricks and mortar, that mass of metal, might appear to the uninstructed as only the outgrown meeting place and the shattered bell of a former time, useless now because of more modern conveniences, but to those who know they have become consecrated by the use which men have made of them. They have long been identified with a great cause. They are the framework of a spiritual event. The world looks upon them, because of their associations of one hundred and fifty years ago, as it looks upon the Holy Land because of what took place there nineteen hundred years ago. Through use for a righteous purpose they have become sanctified.

It is not here necessary to examine in detail the causes which led to the American Revolution. In their immediate occasion they were largely economic. The colonists objected to the navigation laws which interfered with their trade, they denied the power of Parliament to impose taxes which they were obliged to pay, and they therefore resisted the royal governors and the royal forces which were sent to secure obedience to these laws. But the conviction is inescapable that a new civilization had come, a new spirit had arisen on this side of the Atlantic more advanced and more developed in its regard for the rights of the individual than that which characterized the Old World. Life in a new and open country had aspirations which could not be realized in any subordinate position. A separate establishment was ultimately inevitable. It had been decreed by the very laws of human nature. Man everywhere has an unconquerable desire to be the master of his own destiny.

We are obliged to conclude that the Declaration of Independence represented the movement of a people. It was not, of course, a movement from the top. Revolutions do not come from that direction. It was not without the support of many of the most respectable people in the Colonies, who were entitled to all the consideration that is given to breeding, education, and possessions. It had the support of another element of great significance and importance to which I shall later refer. But the preponderance of all those who occupied a position which took on the aspect of aristocracy did not approve of the Revolution and held toward it an attitude either of neutrality or open hostility. It was in no sense a rising of the oppressed and downtrodden. It brought no scum to the surface, for the reason that colonial society had developed no scum. The great body of the people were accustomed to privations, but they were free from depravity. If they had poverty, it was not of the hopeless kind that afflicts great cities, but the inspiring kind that marks the spirit of the pioneer. The American Revolution represented the informed and mature convictions of a great mass of independent, liberty-loving, God-fearing people who knew their rights, and possessed the courage to dare to maintain them.

The Continental Congress was not only composed of great men, but it represented a great people. While its members did not fail to exercise a remarkable leadership, they were equally observant of their representative capacity. They were industrious in encouraging their constituents to instruct them to support independence. But until such instructions were given they were inclined to withhold action.

While North Carolina has the honor of first authorizing its delegates to concur with other Colonies in declaring independence, it was quickly followed by South Carolina and Georgia, which also gave general instructions broad enough to include such action. But the first instructions which unconditionally directed its delegates to declare for independence came from the great Commonwealth of Virginia. These were immediately followed by Rhode Island and Massachusetts, while the other Colonies, with the exception of New York, soon adopted a like course.

This obedience of the delegates to the wishes of their constituents, which in some cases caused them to modify their previous positions, is a matter of great significance. It reveals an orderly process of government in the first place; but more than that, it demonstrates that the Declaration of Independence was the result of the seasoned and deliberate thought of the dominant portion of the people of the Colonies. Adopted after long discussion and as the result of the duly authorized expression of the preponderance of public opinion, it did not partake of dark intrigue or hidden conspiracy. It was well advised. It had about it nothing of the lawless and disordered nature of a riotous insurrection. It was maintained on a plane which rises above the ordinary conception of rebellion. It was in no sense a radical movement but took on the dignity of a resistance to illegal usurpations. It was conservative and represented the action of the colonists to maintain their constitutional rights which from time immemorial had been guaranteed to them under the law of the land.

When we come to examine the action of the Continental Congress in adopting the Declaration of Independence in the light of what was set out in that great document and in the light of succeeding events, we can not escape the conclusion that it had a much broader and deeper significance than a mere secession of territory and the establishment of a new nation. Events of that nature have been taking place since the dawn of history. One empire after another has arisen, only to crumble away as its constituent parts separated from each other and set up independent governments of their own. Such actions long ago became commonplace. They have occurred too often to hold the attention of the world and command the admiration and reverence of humanity. There is something beyond the establishment of a new nation, great as that event would be, in the Declaration of Independence which has ever since caused it to be regarded as one of the great charters that not only was to liberate America but was everywhere to ennoble humanity.

It was not because it was proposed to establish a new nation, but because it was proposed to establish a nation on new principles, that July 4, 1776, has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history. Great ideas do not burst upon the world unannounced. They are reached by a gradual development over a length of time usually proportionate to their importance. This is especially true of the principles laid down in the Declaration of Independence. Three very definite propositions were set out in its preamble regarding the nature of mankind and therefore of government. These were the doctrine that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that therefore the source of the just powers of government must be derived from the consent of the governed.

If no one is to be accounted as born into a superior station, if there is to be no ruling class, and if all possess rights which can neither be bartered away nor taken from them by any earthly power, it follows as a matter of course that the practical authority of the Government has to rest on the consent of the governed. While these principles were not altogether new in political action, and were very far from new in political speculation, they had never been assembled before and declared in such a combination. But remarkable as this may be, it is not the chief distinction of the Declaration of Independence. The importance of political speculation is not to be under-estimated, as I shall presently disclose. Until the idea is developed and the plan made there can be no action.

It was the fact that our Declaration of Independence containing these immortal truths was the political action of a duly authorized and constituted representative public body in its sovereign capacity, supported by the force of general opinion and by the armies of Washington already in the field, which makes it the most important civil document in the world. It was not only the principles declared, but the fact that therewith a new nation was born which was to be founded upon those principles and which from that time forth in its development has actually maintained those principles, that makes this pronouncement an incomparable event in the history of government. It was an assertion that a people had arisen determined to make every necessary sacrifice for the support of these truths and by their practical application bring the War of Independence to a successful conclusion and adopt the Constitution of the United States with all that it has meant to civilization.

The idea that the people have a right to choose their own rulers was not new in political history. It was the foundation of every popular attempt to depose an undesirable king. This right was set out with a good deal of detail by the Dutch when as early as July 26, 1581, they declared their independence of Philip of Spain. In their long struggle with the Stuarts the British people asserted the same principles, which finally culminated in the Bill of Rights deposing the last of that house and placing William and Mary on the throne. In each of these cases sovereignty through divine right was displaced by sovereignty through the consent of the people. Running through the same documents, though expressed in different terms, is the clear inference of inalienable rights. But we should search these charters in vain for an assertion of the doctrine of equality. This principle had not before appeared as an official political declaration of any nation. It was profoundly revolutionary. It is one of the corner stones of American institutions.

But if these truths to which the declaration refers have not before been adopted in their combined entirety by national authority, it is a fact that they had been long pondered and often expressed in political speculation. It is generally assumed that French thought had some effect upon our public mind during Revolutionary days. This may have been true. But the principles of our declaration had been under discussion in the Colonies for nearly two generations before the advent of the French political philosophy that characterized the middle of the eighteenth century. In fact, they come from an earlier date. A very positive echo of what the Dutch had done in 1581, and what the English were preparing to do, appears in the assertion of the Rev. Thomas Hooker of Connecticut as early as 1638, when he said in a sermon before the General Court that--

"The foundation of authority is laid in the free consent of the people"

"The choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God�s own allowance."

This doctrine found wide acceptance among the nonconformist clergy who later made up the Congregational Church. The great apostle of this movement was the Rev. John Wise, of Massachusetts. He was one of the leaders of the revolt against the royal governor Andros in 1687, for which he suffered imprisonment. He was a liberal in ecclesiastical controversies. He appears to have been familiar with the writings of the political scientist, Samuel Pufendorf, who was born in Saxony in 1632. Wise published a treatise, entitled "The Church�s Quarrel Espoused," in 1710, which was amplified in another publication in 1717. In it he dealt with the principles of civil government. His works were reprinted in 1772 and have been declared to have been nothing less than a textbook of liberty for our Revolutionary fathers.

While the written word was the foundation, it is apparent that the spoken word was the vehicle for convincing the people. This came with great force and wide range from the successors of Hooker and Wise, It was carried on with a missionary spirit which did not fail to reach the Scotch-Irish of North Carolina, showing its influence by significantly making that Colony the first to give instructions to its delegates looking to independence. This preaching reached the neighborhood of Thomas Jefferson, who acknowledged that his "best ideas of democracy" had been secured at church meetings.

That these ideas were prevalent in Virginia is further revealed by the Declaration of Rights, which was prepared by George Mason and presented to the general assembly on May 27, 1776. This document asserted popular sovereignty and inherent natural rights, but confined the doctrine of equality to the assertion that "All men are created equally free and independent." It can scarcely be imagined that Jefferson was unacquainted with what had been done in his own Commonwealth of Virginia when he took up the task of drafting the Declaration of Independence. But these thoughts can very largely be traced back to what John Wise was writing in 1710. He said, "Every man must be acknowledged equal to every man." Again, "The end of all good government is to cultivate humanity and promote the happiness of all and the good of every man in all his rights, his life, liberty, estate, honor, and so forth . . . ." And again, "For as they have a power every man in his natural state, so upon combination they can and do bequeath this power to others and settle it according as their united discretion shall determine." And still again, "Democracy is Christ�s government in church and state." Here was the doctrine of equality, popular sovereignty, and the substance of the theory of inalienable rights clearly asserted by Wise at the opening of the eighteenth century, just as we have the principle of the consent of the governed stated by Hooker as early as 1638.

When we take all these circumstances into consideration, it is but natural that the first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence should open with a reference to Nature�s God and should close in the final paragraphs with an appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world and an assertion of a firm reliance on Divine Providence. Coming from these sources, having as it did this background, it is no wonder that Samuel Adams could say "The people seem to recognize this resolution as though it were a decree promulgated from heaven."

No one can examine this record and escape the conclusion that in the great outline of its principles the Declaration was the result of the religious teachings of the preceding period. The profound philosophy which Jonathan Edwards applied to theology, the popular preaching of George Whitefield, had aroused the thought and stirred the people of the Colonies in preparation for this great event. No doubt the speculations which had been going on in England, and especially on the Continent, lent their influence to the general sentiment of the times. Of course, the world is always influenced by all the experience and all the thought of the past. But when we come to a contemplation of the immediate conception of the principles of human relationship which went into the Declaration of Independence we are not required to extend our search beyond our own shores. They are found in the texts, the sermons, and the writings of the early colonial clergy who were earnestly undertaking to instruct their congregations in the great mystery of how to live. They preached equality because they believed in the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. They justified freedom by the text that we are all created in the divine image, all partakers of the divine spirit.

Placing every man on a plane where he acknowledged no superiors, where no one possessed any right to rule over him, he must inevitably choose his own rulers through a system of self-government. This was their theory of democracy. In those days such doctrines would scarcely have been permitted to flourish and spread in any other country. This was the purpose which the fathers cherished. In order that they might have freedom to express these thoughts and opportunity to put them into action, whole congregations with their pastors had migrated to the colonies. These great truths were in the air that our people breathed. Whatever else we may say of it, the Declaration of Independence was profoundly American.

If this apprehension of the facts be correct, and the documentary evidence would appear to verify it, then certain conclusions are bound to follow. A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We can not continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.

We are too prone to overlook another conclusion. Governments do not make ideals, but ideals make governments. This is both historically and logically true. Of course the government can help to sustain ideals and can create institutions through which they can be the better observed, but their source by their very nature is in the people. The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.

About the Declaration there is a finality that is exceedingly restful. It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth. The rights of the individual are held sacred and protected by constitutional guaranties, which even the Government itself is bound not to violate. If there is any one thing among us that is established beyond question, it is self-government--the right of the people to rule. If there is any failure in respect to any of these principles, it is because there is a failure on the part of individuals to observe them. We hold that the duly authorized expression of the will of the people has a divine sanction. But even in that we come back to the theory of John Wise that "Democracy is Christ�s government." The ultimate sanction of law rests on the righteous authority of the Almighty.

On an occasion like this a great temptation exists to present evidence of the practical success of our form of democratic republic at home and the ever-broadening acceptance it is securing abroad. Although these things are well known, their frequent consideration is an encouragement and an inspiration. But it is not results and effects so much as sources and causes that I believe it is even more necessary constantly to contemplate. Ours is a government of the people. It represents their will. Its officers may sometimes go astray, but that is not a reason for criticizing the principles of our institutions. The real heart of the American Government depends upon the heart of the people. It is from that source that we must look for all genuine reform. It is to that cause that we must ascribe all our results.

It was in the contemplation of these truths that the fathers made their declaration and adopted their Constitution. It was to establish a free government, which must not be permitted to degenerate into the unrestrained authority of a mere majority or the unbridled weight of a mere influential few. They undertook the balance these interests against each other and provide the three separate independent branches, the executive, the legislative, and the judicial departments of the Government, with checks against each other in order that neither one might encroach upon the other. These are our guaranties of liberty. As a result of these methods enterprise has been duly protected from confiscation, the people have been free from oppression, and there has been an ever-broadening and deepening of the humanities of life.

Under a system of popular government there will always be those who will seek for political preferment by clamoring for reform. While there is very little of this which is not sincere, there is a large portion that is not well informed. In my opinion very little of just criticism can attach to the theories and principles of our institutions. There is far more danger of harm than there is hope of good in any radical changes. We do need a better understanding and comprehension of them and a better knowledge of the foundations of government in general. Our forefathers came to certain conclusions and decided upon certain courses of action which have been a great blessing to the world. Before we can understand their conclusions we must go back and review the course which they followed. We must think the thoughts which they thought. Their intellectual life centered around the meeting-house. They were intent upon religious worship. While there were always among them men of deep learning, and later those who had comparatively large possessions, the mind of the people was not so much engrossed in how much they knew, or how much they had, as in how they were going to live. While scantily provided with other literature, there was a wide acquaintance with the Scriptures. Over a period as great as that which measures the existence of our independence they were subject to this discipline not only in their religious life and educational training, but also in their political thought. They were a people who came under the influence of a great spiritual development and acquired a great moral power.

No other theory is adequate to explain or comprehend the Declaration of Independence. It is the product of the spiritual insight of the people. We live in an age of science and of abounding accumulation of material things. These did not create our Declaration. Our Declaration created them. The things of the spirit come first. Unless we cling to that, all our material prosperity, overwhelming though it may appear, will turn to a barren sceptre in our grasp. If we are to maintain the great heritage which has been bequeathed to us, we must be like-minded as the fathers who created it. We must not sink into a pagan materialism. We must cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which they showed. We must keep replenished, that they may glow with a more compelling flame, the altar fires before which they worshiped.

Their Sacred Honor

Action of Second Continental Congress, July 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America

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. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of the Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.

HE has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us;

FOR protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rules into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in GENERAL CONGRESS, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

John Hancock

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

You know, for a poem written almost 100 years ago, this poem is eerily fitting to today. Its bitter take on contemporary fads and corroded virtue could have been written this morning.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
By Rudyard Kipling

AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.


As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Text from The Kipling Society.

"Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts"

July 1st is  the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

"...the bloodiest day in the history of the British Army. They took 60,000 casualties, of whom nearly twenty thousand were killed.

The Tommies were to get out of their trenches and advance across No Man's Land towards the enemy trenches. This maneuver was to be preceded by an artillery barrage on the enemy lines."

From The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell:
B.H. Liddell Hart, who was in the 9th Battalion of the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, explains. Just before the Somme attack, "the officers assembled in the headquarters mess, in a typical Picardy farmhouse. Recent strain between the commanding officer and some of the others led to an embarrassing pause when the senior company commander was called on to propose a toast to the C.O. On a sudden inspiration, he raised his glass and gave the toast with the words: 'Gentlemen, when the barrage lifts'."

The battalion attacked with some 800 men. Twenty-four hours later its strength was 80 men and four officers.