Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grateful for the 227th anniversary of the Constitution, and hopeful for many more.

This Constitution Day, marking the 227th anniversary of the signing, September 17, 1787 - September 17, 2014, I'll keep it short. I was given a 'challenge' to post for five days, three things that I was grateful for. Rather than follow in the example of the challenge, praising inexpressible wisdom and love for friends, family and furry animals, I chose to be grateful for what secures the ability of each of us to pursue our own conception of what we are, and hope to be, grateful for.

And there's no need to repeat it for five days - I'm grateful for it every day.

Here ya go:
 1) For this day in particular, September 17th, I'm grateful for the wisdom expressed in the words of our Constitution which define the making of laws and their limits, harnessing our best intentions and worst inclinations, towards securing the lives liberty, and ability of our people to pursue happiness.
 2) Grateful for the ability to reflect on what is valuable in life, and the liberty to make the decisions necessary to pursuing it.
 3) Grateful that those who disagree with my choices are still not, quite, able to force me to live in accordance with theirs. 
BTW WaPo, your ability to answer 13, or 1,300 trivia questions about the Constitution, is no indication of whether or not you understand it well enough to be grateful for it.

Try reading it, reading the arguments for, and against it, and considering what would happen if we should lose the last vestiges of it. Or if you're not quite up to that, one of the best tools I've ever found for considering and reflecting particular parts of the Constitution, is the site "The Founders Constitution". Scroll down on the contents page and you'll find it goes through the Constitution clause by clause, and each is supplied with a list of links to relevant portions of not only the Federalist Papers, but to documents which the Founders had in mind when writing the Constitution, what the Anti-Federalists objected to (this is particularly helpful in understanding the arguments For the Constitution which the Federalist Papers make), as well as early Supreme Court opinions and judgments relevant to that clause, and commentaries by early Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story (which are fantastic).


Constitution of the United States and the First Twelve Amendments 1787--1804

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Article. I.

Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 2. The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.


No person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3. The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section 4. The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section 5. Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
Section 6. The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
Section 7. All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
Section 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section 9. The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section 10. No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Article. II.

Section 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected as follows

Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

Section 2. The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3. He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

Article. III.

Section 1. The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;--to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;--to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;--to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;--to Controversies between two or more States;--between a State and Citizens of another State;--between Citizens of different States,--between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.

Article. IV.
Section 1. Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section 2. The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.

Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.

Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.

Article. V.

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of it's equal Suffrage in the Senate.


Article. VI.

All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.

Article. VII.

The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
The Word, "the," being interlined between the seventh and eighth Lines of the first Page, The Word "Thirty" being partly written on an Erazure in the fifteenth Line of the first Page, The Words "is tried" being interlined between the thirty second and thirty third Lines of the first Page and the Word "the" being interlined between the forty third and forty fourth Lines of the second Page. Attest William Jackson Secretary
done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,

Go: Washington--Presidt. and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire { John Langdon
Nicholas Gilman
}
Massachusetts { Nathaniel Gorham
Rufus King
Connecticut { Wm. Saml. Johnson
Roger Sherman
New York Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey { Wil: Livingston
David Brearley.
Wm. Paterson.
Jona: Dayton
Pensylvania { B Franklin
Thomas Mifflin
Robt Morris
Geo. Clymer
Thos. FitzSimons
Jared Ingersoll
James Wilson
Gouv Morris
Delaware { Geo: Read
Gunning Bedford jun
John Dickinson
Richard Bassett
Jaco: Broom
Maryland { James McHenry
Dan of St Thos. Jenifer
Danl Carroll
Virginia { John Blair--
James Madison Jr.
North Carolina { Wm. Blount
Richd. Dobbs Spaight.
Hu Williamson
South Carolina { J. Rutledge
Charles Cotesworth Pinckney
Charles Pinckney
Pierce Butler.
Georgia { William Few
Abr Baldwin
Amendments to the Constitution
Article I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Article II
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Article III
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.
Article IV
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Article V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Article VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.
Article VII
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Article VIII
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
Article IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
Article X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Article XI
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
Article XII
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number
shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.


The Founders' Constitution
Volume 1, Chapter 1, Document 9

The University of Chicago Press

Documents Illustrative of the Formation of the Union of the American States. Edited by Charles C. Tansill. 69th Cong., 1st sess. House Doc. No. 398. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1927.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

9/11: Never again... or for ever more? Dave McArthur's bloody truth

There were two calls in to Dana Loesch's radio show on the afternoon of September 10th, which bracketed the issues we are still facing this September 11th, 2014, and which are the same issues that we have been studiously attempting to turn away from ever since September 11th, 2001.

The first call came in from someone identifying himself as an Army Ranger, in response to President Obama's earlier calls to contain and manage ISIS; he asked in frustration:
"How do you defeat an idea?"
Which is a question that our govt and intellectual leaders have unfortunately given very little consideration to (certainly less than they've given to the more Politically Correct ideas of how our culture can go about accommodating all ideas).

The second call came in from a popular local bakery owner here in St. Louis, Dave McArthur, who pointed out that central to our waging WWII was our publicly, explicitly, identifying America's enemies to the American people. To that end propaganda posters filled our cities to remind us of the ugly business we were engaged in, reminded us of the brutal realities that such a war entailed and reminded us of the very real reasons why we were at war with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Propaganda can of course be, and usually is, misused, but that was actually one of its few legitimate purposes it has, and it spurred Americans on the home-front on to victory; to a victory which was understood to be necessary, and a victory which would require us to devastate our enemies in Japan, and Germany to the point that they totally, unqualifiably, surrendered.

IOW we had a strategy which meant that "We win, they lose".

Why did victory require the devastating defeat and unqualified surrender of our enemies? Because, as with our world today, WWII was not about issues that could be negotiated, it was not about simple border or trade disputes, but about the violent and expansive imposition of absolutist political schemes in order to dominate some or all of the world.

WWII was not fought for things, but for ideas, ideas of liberty or tyranny. And as long as we desired to remain free, there was no possibility open for bargaining with such enemies of liberty, only their total defeat and surrender (It's also worth noting that after winning WWII, in fewer years than we've expended since 09/11/2001 to today, we had not only imposed a government and a constitution upon both Axis powers, but they had become, and have remained, actual allies of ours ever since; something the Paul Bremer-Bush admin kinder gentler coalition would never achieve in Iraq).

What Dave McArthur said about defeating the islamists of ISIS - and all the rest of those who wish to impose islamic rule upon the world - that it requires total war, is something that is horribly, painfully and exactly true.

There is no alternative - other than "We lose. They win", that is.

How do you defeat an idea?
The first caller asked exactly the right question:
"How do you defeat an idea?"
And the answer is, if it is an idea that people are not open to discussing, an idea that will not tolerate reasonable alternatives, an idea that requires your death or your submission, then the answer to that question is a very simple one:
You cannot defeat an idea.
All you can do is make physically certain that those of the enemy who might survive a war with you, would live in constant fear and dread at the thought of that idea ever again being in their head, let alone upon their lips. You cannot defeat an idea, you can only make people determined to no longer entertain them, because of the memory of the war they fought with you over it, and the fear of the possibility of such a conflict ever happening again, is too painful to think about.

This is not an anti-Islamic position, nor is it limited to radical islamists. For any of those that believe that the Emperor, or der Fuhrer, or das Capital, or Sharia, or whatever else the case might be, when they believe that their belief system entitles them to impose their political rule upon others by the sword, that killing those who don't agree with them is a viable policy, then they must be made to either die, or vigorously and forever repent of ever having had such ideas, plans and policies to impose tyrannical rule upon others.

And if we do not face up to the fact that that is the reality of what we are facing and fighting, then we cannot, and we will not, achieve victory - and the peace - that we seek.

And when we do finally face up to it, we will have to realize, and it will be the responsibility of our political and intellectual leaders to clarify what that means and to keep it current in public opinion that we will have to defeat ISIS exactly as we did the Nazi's and Imperial Japan - by destroying them, ruthlessly, utterly and completely.

Our failure, and our leaders failure, has been to try and turn away from that reality. It's what we failed to face up to after the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon under Reagan, what we failed to face up to during and after the Gulf War under Bush I, what we failed to face up to during the World Trade Tower bombing under Clinton and what we have continued to fail to face up to during and after Iraq & Afghanistan with Bush II and Obama today.

And that is why, 13 years after September 11th, 2001, we are still being threatened, and why our people are still being harangued and murdered by islamist radicals today. And despite President Obama's denial that ISIS is not a 'legitimate state', their undocumented state covers great swaths of Syria and Iraq - territory which we must now, one way or another, rid them of.

If we want these conflicts to end, then we will have to ensure that the idea that it is acceptable, desirable and practical idea to impose their radical ideology upon us, we must make it thoroughly understood that that idea means death and destruction for those holding it - or we will remain ever at their mercy.

It is an alternative we'd better face up to this September 11th: 9/11 never again... or 9/11
for ever more?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Beyond the rants: Culture, Seinfeld and the Ferguson Riots - A Society of Culturettes

No, I'm not going to write about the old TV show 'Seinfeld' (sorry, I never liked that show), but about something I once overheard from a table next to me at lunch. Two middle aged fans of the show were attempting to 'speak Seinfeld' with a third, younger, companion at their table, who they simply assumed was as familiar with their favorite TV show as they were, 'cause, you know, Seinfeld!

As the two were chuckling at the reference one just made, they suddenly noticed the blank look on their friend's face. So the one who'd told the story repeated himself, something about what Kramer had said in such 'n such scene being just like what someone in their office had done earlier that day, but this time he spoke more slllooowwwlyyy like there was a language issue at the root of their failure to communicate; and yet - still no response from their young friend.
"Didn't you ever see that?"
"See what?"
"That episode? Of SEINfeld?"
"Nah, never watched the show."
The two chucklers gasped in shock.
"What...? Seriously?" and in unison "You've never seen Seinfeld?!"
"Nope." came the entirely unconcerned reply, and "Pass the ketchup.", as he went about the more important task of spurting condiments on his burger and digging in.
Sadly, there are still, however many years after the show went off the air, scores of people who routinely 'speak Seinfeld', and do so in supreme confidence that they're enhancing their conversations with these allusions and references to critical episodes, scenes and gags from the show. No doubt for those who're as familiar with it as they are, they get the meaning, they get the joke, and they COMPLETELY know how it relates to the present moment, and I've no doubt their conversations are ever so much more than they otherwise would have been, because of their show references.

And yet there are other people, many more other people, more and more every day, who've never seen Seinfeld, who do not have and never have had any mental space reserved for the show; and even many who would do everything they could to leave the room if someone were to turn it on. And these Seinfeld-less people, a distressingly expanding portion of those that the Seinfeldians know, will so deeply frustrate them with their inability to have communicated to them, that certain laugh, that important Seinfeldian insight ("Soup Nazi!"), and they will have to endure the 'cut off in mid sentence' sensation of coming up against not just a lack of understanding, but the utter absence of there even being the possibility of communicating what the Seinfeldian had in their mind, to the Seinfeld-less person they were attempting to let in on the joke.

Appropriately enough, for a show famously about nothing, there's more to the Seinfeldian's discomfort here than meets the eye.

For when I overheard this scene I'd thought I understood how those two at the lunch table must have felt. I'd spent the 80's in a travelling Rock band on the West Coast, and we'd developed a lingo of meaningful references all our own; particular looks, expressions, words, phrases (for the few of you still out there, here ya go:... "Nice boots", "Pigeon Poaching", "Would you believe?!", "Oh Knawful", "San Deigo", "40", "Roller Skates", "Going north", "Too much air today", "U-Haul", "50 cycle hum", "Jartran" - you're welcome), which passed volumes between us, becoming our (only partly intentionally) secret code language. And as I still occasionally lapse into an expression here or there, being the only person able to 'get the joke', I thought I'd felt what those Seinfeldians were feeling; the realization that you can't help the person you're talking to, to 'get the joke'. And if you try to explain it... the humor escapes and only your odd meaninglessness remains to them.

But what I realized this weekend, while watching a livestream of the Ferguson riots and trying to help defend a friend who was being attacked online who was being accused of not being 'black enough' because he cared too much about truth and justice - WHAT?! - and then I realized, that the joke was on me. Those band memories were simply irrelevant personal memories, no different from anyone else's personal recollections of friends & days gone by. But what the Seinfeldians, and the 'not black enoughians' were (and are) experiencing, isn't about the experiences of youth or race, but a microcosm of something that is happening in the wider Western world all around us. There too we have the case of an understanding which is also being shared by fewer and fewer people every day, and the absence of communication which it presents there is infinitely more far reaching in its significance, because what is not being communicated by it is much more than just a laugh track, and much more to do with our being able to live a life worth living.

And what that is, is this:
cul·ture
/ˈkəlCHər/
noun

  1. the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
    "20th century popular culture"
    synonyms: the arts, the humanities, intellectual achievement;

Well, not quite that exactly, since as the definition given in the first instance there references "20th century popular culture", which might be more fitting to the Seinfeldians culturette, and it seems remarkably lacking in the ability to convey an understanding of what Culture actually is.

Ok, here's another definition that gets somewhat closer:
"Culture: Integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that is both a result of and integral to the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations. Culture thus consists of language, ideas, beliefs, customs, taboos, codes, institutions, tools, techniques, works of art, rituals, ceremonies, and symbols. It has played a crucial role in human evolution, allowing human beings to adapt the environment to their own purposes rather than depend solely on natural selection to achieve adaptive success. "
There, that's better.

That seems rather... large, doesn't it? Although Culture is a fairly new word, its meaning stretches all the way back to why the Greeks referred to other peoples as barbarians. It wasn't just the the 'bah-bah-bah' sounds of their language, but the fact that their language conveyed little or nothing of what was understood to be important by the Greeks. What the barbarians spoke wasn't Greek to them, its words wouldn't carry the "Integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour" of their world and so was meaningless and worthless to them. Culture may be a new word, but its meaning is not only ancient, but all encompassing for a society. Until recently, anyway.

Now ask yourself: what do you suppose remains behind in a society when something that large has been removed from it? All the references and understandings, which, as 'Soup Nazi' is to Culture, are as a punch line is to the collected works of Shakespeare, Sophocles, etc. All of that, was simply cancelled and discarded as if by some remote Intellectual programming executives because its Nielsen ratings had dropped amongst themselves (which is pretty much what happened, but that's another story).

It's a shocking situation for a Culture's die-hard fans to absorb. And as a result, like Seinfeld, fewer and fewer people are 'speaking Western Culture' today, and the increasingly large number of people who do not have any mental space reserved for it in their minds or souls, whose numbers are growing every day, every year, do not 'get the joke', or anything else. We are fast becoming a society that isn't even as well off as those two Seinfeldians I overheard, for their companion, though not a fan, at least knew of what it was they were speaking of.

The people who don't 'speak Western Culture', don't even realize what it is that you're referencing, a Culture; instead they make the mistake of thinking that you're talking about a particular book or an author, rather than about a way of living life itself. A line of Aeschylus or Shakespeare or an observation of Thucydides or Locke, can be made with only a few words, but to those familiar with them, they could, and should, and once did, convey a depth of meaning that went far beyond the scope of trivia or amusing gags.

But to those unfamiliar with these? Nah, never heard of it. Pass the Ketchup.

Try it. Assuming any of this raises even a glimmer of understanding with you, try referencing a quote from Plato, a reference to Plutarch or even King Arthur's knights! These were once common references which communicated volumes of meaning and relevance, cultural references which once had the ability to truly save the day or alter the course of a life, references which served to situate their listeners within their lives, capable of inspiring acts of bravery or the righting of a life - but these are now more often than not, met with a blank stare, a "nah, never heard of it. Pass the Ketchup."

If I dare make reference to the 'rage of Achilles', I might be met, from those who should know it, professors, teachers, 'intellectuals' and the like, with not much more than a recognition of a noun which they remembered to have some dim reference to 'Western Civilization', and as such it will likely be met with some shade of contempt and I'll then be chided about 'checking my privilege'. But whose,  and far more likely, I'll be met with that devastatingly empty glance, one that with some prompting will be followed by a shrug which communicates that "Sorry, I don't speak Western Civilization", and the pain of it strikes deep into the soul.

But here's the question that you, who are currently enjoying the last fruits - perhaps the pits - of that culture, should be asking yourself: 'What is filling that empty space?' What, in its stead, is filling the gaps where there once was something that was "integral to the human capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations"? What has taken that place?

'Nothing' is not the answer. Some thing or things are filling that gap, they have a shape and form which looks a lot like what is happening in Ferguson MO right now.

We have a world today, possibly the first one ever, which has attempted to trade the substance of it's culture, the stories and events which gave, preserved and passed on its life, with data alone, with facts shorn of the context of those stories which they originally came from and gained their meaning through. Phrases & terms such as : 'Drinking the Hemlock', to 'crossing the rubicon', to 'Battle of Hastings ' and 'We few, we happy few, we band of brothers', as a result of being taught, if at all, as options on a multiple choice test, they are at best associated with a name and a date that was once required of them to be memorized, but that is all. No meaning attaches to their reference, no understanding is triggered by it, no deeper recesses of their lives are touched, woken and animated by those factoids. Playwrights such as Sophocles are at best 'a text' which some students once had to scan through in order to pass a test, and for you to try and explain something to them such as a reference to Antigone, would be as fruitless as trying to explain the Seinfeldian's 'Soup Nazi!' joke - the soul of the reference cannot be grasped by explanation... in fact it is mostly because of such explanations that the soul of the story has been put beyond our grasp to begin with. Textbooks are filled with summaries and factoids, without story or with stories that have been gutted and left grey, lifeless, without meaning, and ensuring us only that we'll pass on a society without a common culture (The 'Diversity!' goal of Common Core).

In Western Culture's place we've been given gobs of mini-cultures, call them Culturettes, based around entertainments and activities such as Seinfeld, football, The Simpsons, MTV, etc., which do not enable, and often stop, conversation between the culturettes. Our society is crammed full of these culturettes and without a unifying culture to contain them and us, there is no form for our society to take but that of chaos, and rioting is one of its many outward features.

I've heard a number of people describe what's going on in Ferguson, the rioting, the looting and destruction of their neighborhood, as somehow being the behavior of animals. I haven't asked which animals because there's no need to - it is entirely, authentically, unequivocally, Human behavior.

What it is not, is behavior that is a part of, or compatible with, Western Culture. And as that is the one culture our educational system has been attempting not to teach for so many, many decades, that is behavior that you can expect to see lots more of. To behave like animals, would be a step up, they at least have a raw order to them - humans don't have that instinctual option, cultures define our behavior, and only the West has led to ideas of Justice and the Rule of Law. What you're seeing in Ferguson, is all the different culturettes the West has been replaced with.

'Purty, ain't it?

And make no mistake, nothing so disjointed and empty as the hash of culturettes our culture has been replaced with, can remain standing for long, not even on TV. There is such a thing as intellectual gravity, just as there is physical gravity and falling ratings, and without sufficient supports, the existing structures will collapse and drag you down, and just like your favorite cancelled TV show, no write in campaign will bring it back.

Oh, but let's revise the standards for our School's Textbooks! Let's add some more multiple choice references! More chapters of fun fact bullet points! That'll help! That'll fix it!

Soup Nazi!

Sigh.
'Where there is no vision, the people perish'
Like most biblical references, that poetic snippet is a fully loaded and prismatic fractal of meaning, and one sense that can be taken from it is that without a common vision, without a shared poetic understanding, a shared story, the people cease to be 'A People', they actively replace themselves with a disintegrated and disparate group of 'peoples', more at odds with each other than with those few barbarians who are still outside the gates, as well as the many more already within.

Like dead men, facts tell no tales.

Without the stories, poems and histories, whatever some standards committee might determine to be 'culturally relevant facts', which had been plucked from them, they cannot convey the meaning that once was accessed through them, a meaning and understanding that knitted its listeners together into A People, a We The People. We have a society today that finds itself almost entirely without a common culture for conveying its significant touchstones. And how well its meaning can be conveyed without those vehicles of story and myth, might be gathered by simply looking around you today. If you want to see what a society of 'No Culture' looks like, if you want to understand the meaning of 'Where there is no vision, the people perish'' is, walk up to a person or two and mention to them about someone being 'rich as Croesus (see below)', and witness the true poverty there to be had in the blank stare staring you in the face - yours and theirs.

Or better yet, look at the rioters in Ferguson MO, who are joining with others streaming in from around the country to burn their neighborhood to the ground in protest for... 'justice'. Having an actual Culture replaced by various culturettes of sports, TV & musical styles... looks a lot like that.

Perhaps even worse, is the fact that the little 'culturettes' that've been slipped to us in the greater culture's stead, the 'Seinfelds' or 'Friends', Rappers, Hip-Hoppers or John Wayne-Eastwood-Schwarzenegger-Rock movies... we soon find ourselves possessors of culturally counterfeit currency whose bills don't even remotely resemble those in use by the person you are trying to 'pay' them to. They don't even seem enough like 'real money' to even begin reaching for; and as with pulling monopoly money out of your pocket to pay for a Coke, the cashier won't even extend a hand for it, you'll only receive an annoyed, blank, stare.

But then again... how often do you even use cash anymore? Just swipe your debit card, or your Kardashians reference, and smile for the selfie!

Yep, Rich as Croesus.

* **************************************************************************************** *

The story of Croesus.
If you've been unfortunate enough to assume that the education you received at school was an actual Education, you may not have heard the story of Croesus. The person celebrated as having originated the concept of 'History', Herodotus, told the story of  the fabulously wealthy Croesus.

Croesus was not only fabulously wealthy, but a powerful ruler of a state as well, and supremely proud and confident that his wealth and fortune made him the happiest of men. As Herodotus told it, one day Solon, the iconic Greek wise man who'd given the Athenians their first constitution, came to dinner, and Croesus was eager to hear this famous wise man laud him for his own wealth and success and happiness. So after providing a luxurious feast, he said "Tell me now, O Solon, who do you think is the happiest of all men?" eagerly expecting him to say, "Croesus."

But Solon, having no use for flattery, answered: "Tellus of Athens, sire."

Croesus was less than pleased at this answer and he demanded to know why. Solon answered,
"First, because his country was flourishing in his days, and he himself had sons both beautiful and good, and he lived to see children born to each of them, and these children all grew up; and further because, after a life spent in what our people look upon as comfort, his end was surpassingly glorious. In a battle between the Athenians and their neighbours near Eleusis, he came to the assistance of his countrymen, routed the foe, and died upon the field most gallantly. The Athenians gave him a public funeral on the spot where he fell, and paid him the highest honours."
Croesus still wasn't pleased, but he thought that surely he'd at least rate second place in Solon's esteem, so he asked again, "Well, who do you think the next most admirable and happy person is.", but again he was to be disappointed.

"Cleobis and Bito," Solon answered, explaining that,
"they were of Argive race; their fortune was enough for their wants, and they were besides endowed with so much bodily strength that they had both gained prizes at the Games. Also this tale is told of them:- There was a great festival in honour of the goddess Juno at Argos, to which their mother must needs be taken in a car. Now the oxen did not come home from the field in time: so the youths, fearful of being too late, put the yoke on their own necks, and themselves drew the car in which their mother rode. Five and forty furlongs did they draw her, and stopped before the temple. This deed of theirs was witnessed by the whole assembly of worshippers, and then their life closed in the best possible way. Herein, too, God showed forth most evidently, how much better a thing for man death is than life. For the Argive men, who stood around the car, extolled the vast strength of the youths; and the Argive women extolled the mother who was blessed with such a pair of sons; and the mother herself, overjoyed at the deed and at the praises it had won, standing straight before the image, besought the goddess to bestow on Cleobis and Bito, the sons who had so mightily honoured her, the highest blessing to which mortals can attain. Her prayer ended, they offered sacrifice and partook of the holy banquet, after which the two youths fell asleep in the temple. They never woke more, but so passed from the earth. The Argives, looking on them as among the best of men, caused statues of them to be made, which they gave to the shrine at Delphi."
Croesus was seething at this, "Is my happiness, then, so utterly set at nought by thee, that thou dost not even put me on a level with private men?"

And Solon answered,
"Oh! Croesus," replied the other, "thou askedst a question concerning the condition of man, of one who knows that the power above us is full of jealousy, and fond of troubling our lot. A long life gives one to witness much, and experience much oneself, that one would not choose. Seventy years I regard as the limit of the life of man. In these seventy years are contained, without reckoning intercalary months, twenty-five thousand and two hundred days. Add an intercalary month to every other year, that the seasons may come round at the right time, and there will be, besides the seventy years, thirty-five such months, making an addition of one thousand and fifty days. The whole number of the days contained in the seventy years will thus be twenty-six thousand two hundred and fifty, whereof not one but will produce events unlike the rest. Hence man is wholly accident. For thyself, oh! Croesus, I see that thou art wonderfully rich, and art the lord of many nations; but with respect to that whereon thou questionest me, I have no answer to give, until I hear that thou hast closed thy life happily. For assuredly he who possesses great store of riches is no nearer happiness than he who has what suffices for his daily needs, unless it so hap that luck attend upon him, and so he continue in the enjoyment of all his good things to the end of life. For many of the wealthiest men have been unfavoured of fortune, and many whose means were moderate have had excellent luck. Men of the former class excel those of the latter but in two respects; these last excel the former in many. The wealthy man is better able to content his desires, and to bear up against a sudden buffet of calamity. The other has less ability to withstand these evils (from which, however, his good luck keeps him clear), but he enjoys all these following blessings: he is whole of limb, a stranger to disease, free from misfortune, happy in his children, and comely to look upon. If, in addition to all this, he end his life well, he is of a truth the man of whom thou art in search, the man who may rightly be termed happy. Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate. Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite all these advantages: as there is no country which contains within it all that it needs, but each, while it possesses some things, lacks others, and the best country is that which contains the most; so no single human being is complete in every respect- something is always lacking. He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, is, in my judgment, entitled to bear the name of 'happy.' But in every matter it behoves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin."
As fate would have it, it wasn't long after that dinner with Solon that Croesus, having let his pride lead him into making one poor decision after another, decisions that inexorably led to his children being killed, his wealth lost, and his kingdom invaded.
Wants to be 'Rich as Croesus'. Already is.

And as his kingdom was defeated and overrun, the invading soldiers dragged Croesus from his throne and out into the town square, where they built a bonfire from the fine furnishings of his ruined palace, tied him onto it and set set it a blaze.

And as the flames kindled beneath him Croesus recalled Solon's words, "No one while he lives is happy." and Croesus cried out Solon's name three times in agony before the flames took him, the richest and most powerful of men, into death.

Without perspective, without the present wisdom of your culture's stories to instill in you the ability to distinguish between what is really of value, what a life worth living actually is, from those things that are merely useful and amusing... you will be lost and remain unfound. Without a vision, you will almost certainly remake yourself as the people who have perished.

Yes, you too can easily be 'Rich as Croesus'.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ranting against rioting in Ferguson, MO

I too am upset at how the police and our governor have handled the rioting in Ferguson; not for their use of force, but for the lack of it. No one can be secure in their rights in the presence of a mob. There is no right of peaceful assembly if what you are assembling as is a riotous mob gathered in the middle of our public streets, violating everything from traffic laws to disturbing the peace, engaging in the destruction of property and violence, well into the night, and chanting threat's against the community and against the police. And on top of that, we've got communist agitators from Chicago who've inserted themselves into the rioters to egg them on to the violence they much prefer to voting booths.

Honestly it is such a clear cut case for the legitimate use of force as I can imagine. My uninformed non-professional law enforcement advice would be something along the lines of giving the order:
"Disperse or be shot. 10 seconds". Count to 10. Shoot and arrest whoever is still there 1 second later.
If the actual professionals have a more effective tactic that will cause less harm and loss of life, fine, but if that tactic leaves a mob such as this in place for even an hour longer, let alone night after night, then that tactic is doing actual damage to the real rights and safety of those living and working (!) in the immediate surroundings, as well as to the wider community at large. Ya know what happens when you depend upon tear gas to disperse a mob? They move their mob and destruction to another location! There's video on Facebook of the screaming mob running from where they were being tear gassed, to another QuikTrip down the road, which had nothing to do with the original 'cause', but was being overrun and looted!

This prolonged rioting and looting is doing real damage to the safety and security of the entire area and to credibility of the police who are the representatives of law and order for all, and as such it is absolutely unacceptable to allow it continue one moment longer.

To concern yourself with the self-esteem or safety of the rioters, at all, rather than with the people who live in that community, and those surrounding it, who are losing sleep, work, businesses and even forcing children to stay home from school day after day, if your first concern is not with those who are being forced to survive under such a blatant and direct threat to their peace, security and safety which such mob violence poses... well, that is as disgusting a display of ignorance as our modern educational system can boast of.

Listen up: There is no more fundamental duty of government, and specifically of the Police, than to secure the peace so that its citizens can pursue happiness, secure in their lives, rights, liberty and property. To fail in that, to knuckle under to such a direct threat and disregard for the rule of law which a mob is the manifestation
of, is despicable. I could source & cite references from our Founder's era, on back to Cicero and the ancient Greeks to bolster that position, but frankly I should not have to and not a single one of you should need supporting references to 'okay' what should be clear and obvious to a few moments deliberate thought.

To top it off, a friend of mine, Martin Baker, has been one of the few voices calling for calm from the supporters of the police and from those supposedly supporting the family of Michael Brown, one of the few calling for the equal application of the laws, for justice, and for his pains he has been subjected to such a vile stream of insult and slander as can be imagined.

One pitiful excuse for a reporter, Jon Swaine, Tweeted that

  There are perhaps 125 people at this pro-Darren Wilson protest. 124 white people and Martin Baker, aged 44
What he failed to report was where else Martin was in attendance, as Dana Loesch noted:
Now, what with my not being a journalist, perhaps someone could clue me in
Martin Baker is 2nd to the left of Sharpton
as to why, being fully aware of Martin's presence at the rally for Brown, why the first question that this 'reporter' asked wasn't:
"Where are all the other supposed black leaders of the community at the event calling for equal justice for all?"
Instead, he tries to somehow make Martin look bad for actually having the good sense, and guts, to be at both rallies.

Another friend of mine, Stacy Washington, has been receiving threats against herself and her family for also daring to call for law and order while black:

How hideously stupid of a fool must a person be to attack someone else because they are standing up for Law and Justice for all? Apparently the answer can be demonstrated for you by nearly any available leftist you can find, if you simply mention that Martin Baker is black and is also calling for equality before the law and justice for all. Like this idiot Swaine, they'll fall all over themselves to give you a demonstration of just what racist stupidity looks like in real time.

Ladies and Gentlemen, if you look upon the scene in Ferguson and think to yourself primarily about skin color - whether in terms of favoring or opposing the rioters doesn't matter - then you are as foolish as you are bigoted. If you base your arguments, pro or con, around skin color, then your have self-identified yourself as being racist and incapable of coherent thought.

While this rioting has been tolerated and chiefly dealt with by Governor by press conference, the rioters, operating from the clear and present danger of a mob, have been openly making threats into news cameras and tweeting out threats to bring their violence to the surrounding communities, including numerous threats to take the violence to the neighborhoods across the bridge. Well my community is across the bridge, and as such we've had multiple SWAT teams mobilized and even staked out around our mall because those threats have been taken seriously.

I've bought my first gun, a pump action shotgun with #00 shot.

While I am a supporter of the Individual Rights which the 2nd Amendment defends, I've never owned a gun and haven't wanted to, for no other reason that I never felt the need. And even today a burglar is still more likely to receive a mix of ball bearings & bb's in the face from my wrist rocket, than a blast of buckshot from my new shotgun, that form of defense is utterly useless against the sort of mobile mob-in-a-car that we've been threatened with, and so now having been threatened, I feel a need to be able to respond.

That sucks.

But because our Individual Rights are so little respected, because property rights no longer have much real standing in the law, and because so few other actual rights are even attempted to be upheld today, or else are so thoroughly corrupted in practice, there is little more than complete confusion on the issue of what to do about violent mobs rioting and disturbing the peace. And because every branch of the Govt., State, media, wackademia, etc, have been complicit in this state of affairs about, now when we are faced with such a clear cut, basic legitimate function of the State and the use of force, they think themselves entirely helpless as to what to do about it.

And We The People are so damn screwed.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Those who are enabling 'dreamers' are America's worst nightmare

In the video below, two people walk up to Rep. Steve King & Sen. Rand Paul who're eating lunch at a table outside. The moment the lady identifies herself as 'a dreamer' (aka: an illegal immigrant), Rand Paul drops his burger and with his companion, in what looked like very instinctual reactions, flees the confrontation (it is getting harder and harder to see him in a real leadership role). King, on the other hand, sticks it out and handles the situation exactly as he should: calmly, clearly, dispassionately and, despite the 'dreamers' attempts to make it an emotional issue, he handles it as a question of law.

But as offensive as these two illegal immigrant 'dreamers' are, they aren't the real problem.

In the course of this video, and in follow-ups, the two, who quite understandably would rather be referred to euphemistically as 'dreamers', than as the illegal immigrants which they are, emphatically claim, again and again, that they 'love America!'

No. No ma'am, you don't. I state that flatly and without reservation, as someone who does love America for what it is: a nation of Laws. You do not love America, you demonstrate that by your own actions, and those actions which prevent you from being able to love America.

And to ward off some of the support I might unintentionally receive, I say this as an essentially 'open borders' guy. All I want from an Immigration Policy (laws I'd like to see) and from those asking permission to cross our borders, is that they acknowledge that our borders do in fact exist and indicate where the rule and jurisdiction of our laws begin; I expect that immigrants should be able to pass reasonable health & safety checks; that they register on entry, and that they pledge to abide by our laws while they are here for work or pleasure; during which time they should conduct themselves so as to respect our cultural norms and standards during their stay (and if intending an extended stay, I think they should pass a lite version of our citizenry tests and language comprehension... food for future laws). I flatly reject the 'economic arguments' which nationalists (such as FDR & Union bosses) raise against cheap labor, and I contend that all of the other issues oft associated with immigrants would evaporate over night, if they were not extended free public assistance services in the various forms of housing, food, education, etc, which are only due to citizens (but of course I wish American citizens did not seek or receive such things either... laws yet to be corrected). And I'd add to this that I expect that those who violate our laws should be immediately fined and deported without chance of return.

But be that is it may and by our laws as they currently stand, if you entered into America by violating her laws, you are no more able to claim that you love America, than if you forcibly violated Lady Liberty because you claimed to love her. That's not love. No. Sorry. No means no! You may lust after her fruits, but you cannot claim to love America while forcibly violating Lady Liberty's body of laws.

These 'dreamers' dreams are not the American dream, but the result of one of its greatest nightmares. But still, as offensive as these two illegal immigrant 'dreamers' are, they aren't the real problem.

I'll give you that these 'dreamers' may very well be fond of some geographical portion of America, they may enjoy the economic fruits of it, they may even love some of the people living within her, but that, those and they are not America - those are things which to some extent are common to every nation on earth, but such commonalities are not what makes America exceptional and worth loving.

America is an Idea, the first and only nation ever 'conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal', it is the idea of living a life where your Individual Rights are understood to be respected and secured by law so that you can live in liberty. Those Rights, famously summarized as Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, are only possible by instituting a government to uphold those rights as a nation of laws. Respect for the rule of law is essential; only then can everyone hope to have and enjoy an equal standing before the law. And those laws are dependent upon a populace who, from the highest office to the most humble of citizens (and visitors), respect its laws and expect, revere and demand the rule of law.

The unobtrusive monster
Which leads us to what the real problem is, and it's not these 'dreamers' - they're a problem that can be identified, debated and dealt with, by law. The real problem is far worse than two or even twenty million illegal immigrants.

The problem which is far worse than individual law breaking 'dreamers', are the unknown number of law ignoring people who are not only amongst us but who are in places of power within our government; people who feel that when the laws of the land, which they have sworn oaths to uphold and administer, conflict with their own personal assessments and political preferences, and so feel no compunction in using the power they've been entrusted with for upholding the law, to violate our laws as it suits their own desires.

What the existence and toleration of such law ignoring government functionaries means, is that Power has been unleashed upon the land. The power of the people of America, which its laws embody, are rapidly falling into the hands of a people who intend to wield that power however they will. When that happens, and it is happening, monsters are unleashed.

Any thinking person who is not alarmed over this, has never learned how to think thoughts worth thinking - thoughts such as those which animate America. You cannot love America while forcibly violating Lady Liberty's body of laws.

And a nation of laws cannot long exist while such people are allowed to hold offices in its government, or grow to be a substantial portion of its populace. But of course that nation will not simply vanish, a changeling will take its place, and that changeling cannot not be monstrous.

... there he is...
P.S. - Don't bother looking for a red-eyed tyrannical monster - that isn't what's being unleashing, not yet anyway. If you want to know how to recognize the lawless monster, watch this video through to the end. Do you see the putz who steps in and tries to stop the lady from videoing the conversation by telling her that he's decided she isn't allowed to video them? That's him. The monstrous power ready to run over us and our laws, is rarely going to take the form of a powerful tyrant, it is far more likely to be a piddling little bureaucrat who, left on their own, don't possess the personal power and authority to influence even a single person to listen to them. But that same faceless bureaucrat will be the one who is more than happy to turn the power of We The People against us, 'for our own good'.

If you don't believe me, read Hannah Arendt's observations on the Nazi's faceless bureaucrats and the banality of evil.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Calvin Coolidge's "The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence"

The Inspiration of the Declaration of Independence - Calvin Coolidge (cleaning up after Wilson, July 5, 1926)

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 acknowledgment 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 scepter 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 worshipped.