Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One

Benjamin_Franklin_by_Joseph_Siffrein_DuplessisI guess we could call this a guest post, although the author didn’t write it for us, specifically. He did do a masterful job of presenting our grievances however, and so, although it is long, I have decided to simply present it.

The author, as some may know in Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania, and it was first published on 11 September 1773 in The Public Advertiser. I suppose my instant comment is, “Nothing new under the sun”.
Enjoy and heed!
For the Public Advertiser.

Rules by which a great Empire may be reduced to a small one. [Presented privately to a late Minister, when he entered upon his Administration; and now first published.]3

An ancient Sage valued himself upon this, that tho’ he could not fiddle, he knew how to make agreat City of a little one.4 The Science that I, a modern Simpleton, am about to communicate is the very reverse.

I address myself to all Ministers who have the Management of extensive Dominions, which from their very Greatness are become troublesome to govern, because the Multiplicity of their Affairs leaves no Time for fiddling.

I. In the first Place, Gentlemen, you are to consider, that a great Empire, like a great Cake, is most easily diminished at the Edges. Turn your Attention therefore first to your remotest Provinces; that as you get rid of them, the next may follow in Order.

II. That the Possibility of this Separation may always exist, take special Care the Provinces are never incorporated with the Mother Country, that they do not enjoy the same common Rights, the same Privileges in Commerce, and that they are governed by severer Laws, all of your enacting, without allowing them any Share in the Choice of the Legislators. By carefully making and preserving such Distinctions, you will (to keep to my Simile of the Cake) act like a wise Gingerbread Baker, who, to facilitate a Division, cuts his Dough half through in those Places, where, when bak’d, he would have it broken to Pieces.

III. These remote Provinces have perhaps been acquired, purchas’d, or conquer’d, at the sole Expence of the Settlers or their Ancestors, without the Aid of the Mother Country. If this should happen to increase her Strength by their growing Numbers ready to join in her Wars, herCommerce by their growing Demand for her Manufactures, or her Naval Power by greater Employment for her Ships and Seamen, they may probably suppose some Merit in this, and that it entitles them to some Favour; you are therefore to forget it all, or resent it as if they had done you Injury. If they happen to be zealous Whigs, Friends of Liberty, nurtur’d in Revolution Principles,remember all that to their Prejudice, and contrive to punish it: For such Principles, after a Revolution is thoroughly established, are of no more Use, they are even odious and abominable.5

IV. However peaceably your Colonies have submitted to your Government, shewn their Affection to your Interest, and patiently borne their Grievances, you are to suppose them always inclined to revolt, and treat them accordingly. Quarter Troops among them, who by their Insolence may provoke the rising of Mobs, and by their Bullets and Bayonets suppress them. By this Means, like the Husband who uses his Wife ill from Suspicion, you may in Time convert your Suspicionsinto Realities.

V. Remote Provinces must have Governors, and Judges, to represent the Royal Person, and execute every where the delegated Parts of his Office and Authority. You Ministers know, that much of the Strength of Government depends on the Opinion of the People; and much of that Opinion on the Choice of6 Rulers placed immediately over them. If you send them wise and good Men for Governors, who study the Interest of the Colonists, and advance their Prosperity, they will think their King wise and good, and that he wishes the Welfare of his Subjects. If you send them learned and upright Men for judges, they will think him a Lover of Justice. This may attach your Provinces more to his Government. You are therefore to be careful who you recommend for those Offices. If you can find Prodigals who have ruined their Fortunes, broken Gamesters or Stock-Jobbers, these may do well as Governors; for they will probably be rapacious, and provoke the People by their Extortions. Wrangling Proctors and petty-fogging Lawyers7 too are not amiss, for they will be for ever disputing and quarrelling with their little Parliaments, if withal they should be ignorant, wrong-headed and insolent, so much the better. Attorneys Clerks and Newgate Solicitors will do for Chief-Justices, especially if they hold their Places during your Pleasure: And all will contribute to impress those ideas of your Government that are proper for a People you would wish to renounce it.

VI. To confirm these Impressions, and strike them deeper, whenever the Injured come to the Capital with Complaints of Mal-administration, Oppression, or Injustice, punish such Suitors with long Delay, enormous Expence, and a final Judgment in Favour of the Oppressor. This will have an admirable Effect every Way. The Trouble of future Complaints will be prevented, and Governors and Judges will be encouraged to farther Acts of Oppression and Injustice; and thence the People may become more disaffected, and at length desperate.

VII. When such Governors have crammed their Coffers, and made themselves so odious to the People that they can no longer remain among them with Safety to their Persons, recall and rewardthem with Pensions. You may make them Baronets too,8 if that respectable Order should not think fit to resent it. All will contribute to encourage new Governors in the same Practices, and make the supreme Government detestable.

VIII. If when you are engaged in War, your Colonies should vie in liberal Aids of Men and Money against the common Enemy, upon your simple Requisition, and give far beyond their Abilities, reflect, that a Penny taken from them by your Power is more honourable to you than a Pound presented by their Benevolence. Despise therefore their voluntary Grants, and resolve to harrass them with novel Taxes. They will probably complain to your Parliaments that they are taxed by a Body in which they have no Representative, and that this is contrary to common Right. They will petition for Redress. Let the Parliaments flout their Claims, reject their Petitions, refuse even to suffer the reading of them, and treat the Petitioners with the utmost Contempt. Nothing can have a better Effect, in producing the Alienation proposed; for though many can forgive Injuries,none ever forgave Contempt.

IX. In laying these Taxes, never regard the heavy Burthens those remote People already undergo, in defending their own Frontiers, supporting their own provincial Governments, making new Roads, building Bridges, Churches and other public Edifices, which in old Countries have been done to your Hands by your Ancestors, but which occasion constant Calls and Demands on the Purses of a new People. Forget the Restraints you lay on their Trade for your own Benefit, and the Advantage a Monopoly of this Trade gives your exacting Merchants. Think nothing of the Wealth those Merchants and your Manufacturers acquire by the Colony Commerce; their encreased Ability thereby to pay Taxes at home; their accumulating, in the Price of their Commodities, most of those Taxes, and so levying them from their consuming Customers: All this, and the Employment and Support of thousands of your Poor by the Colonists, you are intirely to forget. But remember to make your arbitrary Tax more grievous to your Provinces, by public Declarations importing that your Power of taxing them has no limits, so that when you take from them without their Consent a Shilling in the Pound, you have a clear Right to the other nineteen. This will probably weaken every Idea of Security in their Property, and convince them that under such a Government they have nothing they can call their own; which can scarce fail of producingthe happiest Consequences!9

X. Possibly indeed some of them might still comfort themselves, and say, “Though we have no Property, we have yet something left that is valuable; we have constitutional Liberty both of Person and of Conscience. This King, these Lords, and these Commons, who it seems are too remote from us to know us and feel for us, cannot take from us our Habeas Corpus Right, or our Right of Trial by a Jury of our Neighbours: They cannot deprive us of the Exercise of our Religion, alter our ecclesiastical Constitutions, and compel us to be Papists if they please, or Mahometans.” To annihilate this Comfort, begin by Laws to perplex their Commerce with infinite Regulations impossible to be remembered and observed; ordain Seizures of their Property for every Failure; take away the Trial of such Property by Jury, and give it to arbitrary Judges of your own appointing, and of the lowest Characters in the Country, whose Salaries and Emoluments are to arise out of the Duties or Condemnations, and whose Appointments are during Pleasure. Then let there be a formal Declaration of both Houses, that Opposition to your Edicts is Treason, and that Persons suspected of Treason in the Provinces may, according to some obsolete Law, be seized and sent to the Metropolis of the Empire for Trial; and pass an Act that those there charged with certain other Offences shall be sent away in Chains from their Friends and Country to be tried in the same Manner for Felony. Then erect a new Court of Inquisition among them, accompanied by an armed Force, with Instructions to transport all such suspected Persons, to be ruined by the Expence if they bring over Evidences to prove their Innocence, or be found guilty and hanged if they can’t afford it. And lest the People should think you cannot possibly go any farther, pass another solemn declaratory Act, that “King, Lords, and Commons had, hath, and of Right ought to have, full Power and Authority to make Statutes of sufficient Force and Validity to bind the unrepresented Provinces in all cases whatsoever.” This will include Spiritual with temporal; and taken together, must operate wonderfully to your Purpose, by convincing them, that they are at present under a Power something like that spoken of in the Scriptures, which can not only kill their Bodies, butdamn their Souls to all Eternity, by compelling them, if it pleases, to worship the Devil.1

XI. To make your Taxes more odious, and more likely to procure Resistance, send from the Capital a Board of Officers to superintend the Collection, composed of the most indiscreet, ill-bredand insolent you can find. Let these have large Salaries out of the extorted Revenue, and live in open grating Luxury upon the Sweat and Blood of the Industrious, whom they are to worry continually with groundless and expensive Prosecutions before the above-mentioned arbitrary Revenue-Judges, all at the Cost of the Party prosecuted tho’ acquitted, because the King is to pay no Costs. Let these Men by your Order be exempted from all the common Taxes and Burthens of the Province, though they and their Property are protected by its Laws. If any Revenue Officers aresuspected of the least Tenderness for the People, discard them.2 If others are justly complained of, protect and reward them. If any of the Under-officers behave so as to provoke the People to drub them, promote those to better Offices: This will encourage others to procure for themselves such profitable Drubbings, by multiplying and enlarging such Provocations, and all with work towards the End you aim at.

XII. Another Way to make your Tax odious, is to misapply the Produce of it. If it was originally appropriated for the Defence of the Provinces and the better Support of Government, and the Administration of Justice where it may be necessary, then apply none of it to that Defence, but bestow it where it is not necessary, in augmented Salaries or Pensions to every Governor who has distinguished himself by his Enmity to the People, and by calumniating them to their Sovereign. This will make them pay it more unwillingly, and be more apt to quarrel with those that collect it, and those that imposed it, who will quarrel again with them, and all shall contribute to your main Purpose of making them weary of your Government.

XIII. If the People of any Province have been accustomed to support their own Governors and Judges to Satisfaction, you are to apprehend that such Governors and Judges may be thereby influenced to treat the People kindly, and to do them Justice. This is another Reason for applying Part of that Revenue in larger Salaries to such Governors and Judges, given, as their Commissions are, during your Pleasure only, forbidding them to take any Salaries from their Provinces; that thus the People may no longer hope any Kindness from their Governors, or (in Crown Cases) any Justice from their Judges. And as the Money thus mis-applied in one Province is extorted from all, probably all will resent the Misapplication.

XIV. If the Parliaments of your Provinces should dare to claim Rights or complain of your Administration, order them to be harass’d with repeated Dissolutions. If the same Men are continually return’d by new Elections, adjourn their Meetings to some Country Village where they cannot be accommodated, and there keep them during Pleasure; for this, you know, is yourPrerogative; and an excellent one it is, as you may manage it, to promote Discontents among the People, diminish their Respect, and increase their Disaffection.

XV. Convert the brave honest Officers of your Navy into pimping Tide-waiters and Colony Officers of the Customs. Let those who in Time of War fought gallantly in Defence of the Commerce of their Countrymen, in Peace be taught to prey upon it. Let them learn to be corrupted by great and real Smugglers; but (to shew their Diligence) scour with armed Boats every Bay, Harbour, River, Creek, Cove or Nook throughout the Coast of your Colonies, stop and detain every Coaster, every Wood-boat, every Fisherman, tumble their Cargoes, and even their Ballast, inside out and upside down; and if a Penn’orth of Pins is found un-entered, let the Whole be seized and confiscated. Thus shall the Trade of your Colonists suffer more from their Friends in Time of Peace, than it did from their Enemies in War. Then let these Boats Crews land upon every Farm in their Way, rob the Orchards, steal the Pigs and Poultry, and insult the Inhabitants. If the injured and exasperated Farmers, unable to procure other Justice, should attack the Agressors, drub them and burn their Boats, you are to call this High Treason and Rebellion, order3 Fleets and Armies into their Country, and threaten to carry all the Offenders three thousand Miles to be hang’d, drawn and quartered. O! this will work admirably!

XVI. If you are told of Discontents in your Colonies, never believe that they are general, or that you have given Occasion for them; therefore do not think of applying any Remedy, or of changing any offensive Measure. Redress no Grievance, lest they should be encouraged to demand the Redress of some other Grievance. Grant no Request that is just and reasonable, lest they should make another that is unreasonable. Take all your Informations of the State of the Colonies from your Governors and Officers in Enmity with them. Encourage and reward these Leasing-makers;4secrete their lying Accusations lest they should be confuted; but act upon them as the clearest Evidence, and believe nothing you hear from the Friends of the People. Suppose all theirComplaints to be invented and promoted by a few factious Demagogues, whom if you could catch and hang, all would be quiet. Catch and hang a few of them accordingly; and the Blood of the Martyrs shall work Miracles in favour of your Purpose.

XVII. If you see rival Nations rejoicing at the Prospect of your Disunion with your Provinces, and endeavouring to promote it: If they translate, publish and applaud all the Complaints of your discontented Colonists,5 at the same Time privately stimulating you to severer Measures; let not that alarm or offend you. Why should it? since you all mean the same Thing.6

XVIII. If any Colony should at their own Charge erect a Fortress to secure their Port against the Fleets of a foreign Enemy, get your Governor to betray that Fortress into your Hands. Never think of paying what it cost the Country, for that would look, at least, like some Regard for Justice; but turn it into a Citadel to awe the Inhabitants and curb their Commerce. If they should have lodged in such Fortress the very Arms they bought and used to aid you in your Conquests, seize them all, ’twill provoke like Ingratitude added to Robbery.7 One admirable Effect of these Operations will be, to discourage every other Colony from erecting such Defences, and so their and your Enemies may more easily invade them, to the great Disgrace of your Government, and of course the Furtherance of your Project.8

XIX. Send Armies into their Country under Pretence of protecting the Inhabitants; but instead of garrisoning the Forts on their Frontiers with those Troops, to prevent Incursions, demolish those Forts, and order the Troops into the Heart of the Country, that the Savages may be encouraged to attack the Frontiers, and that the Troops may be protected by the Inhabitants: This will seem to proceed from your Ill will or your Ignorance, and contribute farther to produce and strengthen an Opinion among them, that you are no longer fit to govern them.

XX. Lastly, Invest the General of your Army in the Provinces with great and unconstitutional Powers, and free him from the Controul of even your own Civil Governors. Let him have Troops enow under his Command, with all the Fortresses in his Possession; and who knows but (like some provincial Generals in the Roman Empire, and encouraged by the universal Discontent you have produced) he may take it into his Head to set up for himself. If he should, and you have carefully practised these few excellent Rules of mine, take my Word for it, all the Provinces will immediately join him, and you will that Day (if you have not done it sooner) get rid of the Trouble of governing them, and all the Plagues attending their Commerce and Connection from thenceforth and for ever.

Q.E.D.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

6The draft lacks the middle pages and conclusion. The notes are small additions, written on the back of an invoice from Brown & Whitefoord dated Sept. 2, 1773; we indicate where they were and were not embodied in the draft.

7Below, under Sept. 22. For a literary analysis of the satires see Richard E. Amacher, Benjamin Franklin (New York, [1962]), pp. 82–8. The fullest analysis is unfortunately not in print: Francis X. Davy, “Benjamin Franklin, Satirist: the Satire of Franklin and Its Rhetoric,” unpublished doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 1958.

8bf to wf below, Oct. 6.

9Ibid.; Crane, Letters to the Press, pp. 233–4, 236–7.

1To wf below, Nov. 3. bf’s most interesting comment on his motives was to Jane Mecom below, Nov. 1.

3When Hillsborough took office in 1768, in other words, he adopted these rules to guide his policy. Brackets are in the original.

4The sage was Themistocles, as reported by Plutarch; bf’s wording is approximated in John and William Langhorne, Plutarch’s Lives … (6 vols., London, 1770), i, 281.

5bf added this passage, beginning with “If they happen,” from one of the notes mentioned above. His comment must have shocked English readers as much as he intended, for the principles of the Glorious Revolution had developed differently on the two sides of the Atlantic. In England the principle of an omnicompetent crown in Parliament had largely submerged the contractual limitations on government inherent in the Bill of Rights. The colonies, where local autonomy was in tension with control from London, preserved in full force the principle that authority per se was dangerous. See Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (Cambridge, Mass., [1967]), especially pp. 35–6, 43–7, 201–3.

6The first portion of the surviving draft ends here.

7Proctors had their own areas of pettifoggery, the ecclesiastical and admiralty courts.

8Sir Francis Bernard.

9bf had made this point earlier in his marginalia: above, xvii, 339.

1bf introduced “unrepresented Provinces” into his quotation from the Declaratory Act. His Biblical reference is to Matthew 10:28.

2A reference to John Temple, dismissed in 1770: above, xix, 402.

3The second portion of the surviving draft begins here.

4Liars, a phrase derived from Scottish law. The part of the sentence that follows, from “secrete” to “Evidence,” bf interlined in his draft from one of the notes mentioned above.

5The controlled French press had been publishing, since the time of the Stamp Act, documentation of the developing Anglo-American quarrel; see Durand Echeverria, Mirage in the West: a History of the French Image of American Society to 1815 (Princeton, [1957]), pp. 36–7.

6bf added Rule xvii to his draft from one of the notes mentioned above, but deleted the opening sentence of that note: “If wretched Writers rail against your Colonists, and do their best to widen Breaches, reward them with Pensions or with Patent Places: if those are to be paid out of the Colony Revenue, and those are Colony Places, it will be the more grating and of course so much the better. And if you see,” etc.

7bf interlined this sentence in his draft from one of the notes mentioned above.

8The second portion of the surviving draft ends here. bf returned to the subject of this paragraph in his introduction to Bernard’s speeches below, Sept. 17.

Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, 1 ….

From: “Rules by Which a Great Empire May Be Reduced to a Small One, 11 September 1773,” Founders Online, National Archives (http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-20-02-0213 [last update: 2015-03-20]). Source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 20, January 1 through December 31, 1773, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1976, pp. 389–399.

At Last – A Justice Secretary who Believes in Justice – slightly_grumpy – My Telegraph

This is a short post because there just isn’t much to add.  Michael Gove recently was the education Secretary in Great Britain, and he got into a certain amount of trouble, mostly because he insisted on high standards.

He now has a new job: Justice Minister and Lord High Chancellor. He’s likely, I suspect to get into more trouble making statements like this:

The sealing of Magna Carta, the calling of the first Parliament by Simon de Montfort, the establishment of habeas corpus, the challenge to the operation of the Star Chamber in early Stuart times, the fight by Parliament against the Crown under Charles the First, the Glorious Revolution, the Bill of Rights, the judgement of Lord Mansfield that affirmed the air of England too pure for any slave to breathe, Catholic Emancipation, the removal of discrimination against Jewish citizens, universal suffrage, the principle of judicial review of the executive – all of these are acts which have contributed to making us who we are – a people bound by rules and guided by precedent who settle issues by debate in Parliament and argument in courts, and who afford equal protection to all and cherish liberty as a birthright. These historic acts are what constitute our nation – they are our constitution. And it is my duty, as Lord Chancellor, to safeguard the principles that underlie that constitution.

From: At Last – A Justice Secretary who Believes in Justice – slightly_grumpy – My Telegraph.

Wish we had a few like that in our Department of Justice, let alone as Attorney General, or even heaven forfend, on the Supreme Court.

Margaret Thatcher’s Ghost Stalks The Halls Of the European Union

ThatcherWell, it sounds as if the EU has found some method of stealing more productive people’s money to keep Greece going a bit longer. I didn’t pay all that much attention to the details, honestly. It’s all a sham and show anyway, nearly all of Europe, not even excluding Germany itself soon will be in the same boat.

My friend, Jack Curtis, explained it pretty well yesterday. Here’s part of what he said.

If the E.U. elects to advance funds, Greek debt that cannot be repaid already will be increased by the advance. The E.U. will be throwing good money after bad. Weaning an alcoholic as it were, by buying him drinks. But the facade of business as usual can proceed; the Greek banks can open in the morning.

If the E.U. simply says: Pay what you owe: The Greek banks and government will be forced into what amounts to bankruptcy and collapse. The shock may well collapse the stock markets and thereby the banks elsewhere as the overinflated market values deflate, collapsing still more banks by diminishing the worth of their holdings. And reducing the wealth of everyone else too.

Margaret Thatcher’s Ghost Stalks Halls The Halls Of The Euro … | jcurtisblog.

As he explains it’s a bad omen in a worsening situation. All of Europe, including the UK, will end up in this boat, unless the Tory ‘austerity measures’ are a lot tougher than I think, and besides since they keep stalling on leaving the EU, the rest will drag them along anyway. It won’t necessarily stop there either, we here in the US have decided in the last fifteen (or fifty, perhaps) years that this leaky boat is the way forward.

It amounts to a run on the bank, not the Podunk State Bank but the big ones, the ones billed as too big to fail, which really means that when they fail they will likely take their governments with them leading to who knows what. It’s not hard to see why the politicians want to paper over the mess they’ve made, it could be really catastrophic and when that happens it often turns into a hanging party for all hands.

Sadly, all thinking people have known for basically forever that this is how it ends. What ends? The Greek government at best, the EU and it’s constituent governments, maybe, in the worst case, western civilization. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

Kipling said it over a hundred years ago.

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

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

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

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

But maybe that is too complex for those that think themselves fit to rule us. A few years ago Maggie Thatcher put it more succinctly.

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”
Margaret Thatcher

She also wisely noted, as Jack reminded us:

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

 

 

Mr. President, You Have One Job

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usua...

U.S. Presidential flag, 1960-present (not usually called a “standard” in official U.S. government terminology). It is defined in Executive Order 10860. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In essence, the President of the United States has one job: to protect the Republic from all enemies, foreign and domestic. So a year and a half before we hire a new guy or girl, how are we doing?

I’d say not good. There are many things wrong, the government seems to have lost its way to the point that it cannot tell the good guys from the bad ones, the productive from the moocher, the anarchist from the fascist, in essence, good from evil.

Yes, I did say good from evil. But understand this, it’s not supposed to be the President’s job to help you get a degree, let alone a useful one, nor to make sure you don’t starve because you haven’t found a job. Those things are your job, not is. If you fail, it is your problem, along with those who were foolish enough to depend on you. You don’t want to be a burger flipper that’s commendable, learn a marketable skill, and you won’t be. It would help if the government would get out of the way enough for productive people to be productive.

It would also help if the government would get out of the way enough for the health care industry to provide health care, instead of filling out forms for Leviathan.

But in a sense, none of this is the President’s primary tasking. That is, as it always has been to protect the Republic from foreign enemies. And in that the administration has failed, utterly.

As the linked article says, to be safe one needs some combination of raw power, respect, admiration, and fear. No one of them will really work. And that’s where the US is failing. Raw power is the one we have, but since we are unwilling to use it, it no longer matters. Thousands of tanks in a tank park at Fort Hood are an interesting (to some, anyway) artifact, not a symbol of power. Those same tanks rampaging down ‘Thunder Road’ in Iraq are an unmistakable sign that one is extremely unwise to poke at the Eagle, overmuch.

Notice anybody refraining from that poking lately? Yeah, me either. Here’s why.

The United States is no longer a serious country.

Now, by this I do not mean that America is no longer a super-power. By any gross indicator of strength, the United States is as powerful as it’s ever been, perhaps more powerful than at any time in its history. It has a massive, highly productive economy, a military second to none, and an alliance that dwarfs all possible competitors. On paper, it’s still the only super-power on this planet (or on any other that we know of, so far).

But the status of a great nation is built on more than raw power. It includes intangible qualities like respect, admiration, and, yes, fear. We don’t need all three of them; no major power does. But we need at least one of them at any given moment, and right now, we’re bottoming out in each of these measures. President Obama may insist that America is now “the most respected country on Earth”—a claim even the normally more forgiving folks at PolitiFact rate as only “half-true”—but the Russians, Iranians, and Chinese clearly disagree, and for good reason.

The Chinese hack of the Office of Personnel Management is the most recent, and most obvious, example of how our status is going down the drain. This is a disaster of unimaginable proportions. The intelligence damage, including security-clearance information, will last for decades. (I, of course, am one of the millions of federal workers waiting to find out if my files are now in Beijing.) Almost as shocking as the size of this breach, however, is the fact that no one seems to care very much, including the Chinese, who have shown no concern at all.

An Act of War, Ignored

In any normal world, a super-power would not tolerate this kind of an attack. Perhaps more accurately, a true super-power would never have to endure such an attack in the first place, because other nations would be loath to engage in such a direct act of open hostility. States do lousy things to each other all day long, but the wholesale and brazen theft of personnel records is a different kind of espionage. The scale is so vast that it is a direct challenge to the United States of America.

Countries, as a rule, do not do whatever they can do, they do what they think they can get away with.

Contunue reading: America, The Unserious Super-Power. Emphasis mine.

Seems to me when saudi Arabia and Israel find that they have more in c0mmon with each other than they do with theUnited states, something has goe deeply wrong.

We are pretty much stuck with this until 20 January 2017, but we would be perhaps wise to start thinking ait now. And keep it uppermost in our minds as we think about a new prsident.

King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree

shutterstock_199125452-998x666In the next week, we are going to talk quite a lot about the “Rule of Law” as opposed to the prerogative power. here’s a foretaste of why it is so important.

[…] The president’s remarks come as the Supreme Court is preparing this month to decide King v. Burwell, a case that challenges whether the law ever actually authorized subsidies for health coverage paid out through federal exchanges. The details of Burwell reveal the degree to which the Obama administration’s handling of the ACA is ultimately at odds with ideals and aspirations that really are woven into the fabric of America: the rule of law and the separation of powers under the U.S. Constitution.

The ACA says plainly that subsidies may only be administered “through an Exchange established by the State.” But when it became clear that dozens of states were not going to create exchanges, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), at the behest of the White House, simply issued a rule saying that subsidies could flow through exchanges created and operated by the federal government.

The Obama Administration Embodies Will to Power

In other words, the challengers in King v. Burwell contend that the White House illegally authorized billions of dollars of taxes and spending, circumventing Congress and flouting the statutory text of the ACA by administrative decree. The accusation isn’t a stretch. After all, governing by decree has become commonplace in the Obama era—from the ACA’s many unauthorized delays, to the president’s executive order on immigration last year, to the State Department’s recent gun speech gag order.

Continue readin: King v. Burwell Pits Rule Of Law Against Rule By Decree.

Deja Vu All Over Again: 1968 Edition

Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson ...

Photo portrait of President Lyndon B. Johnson in the Oval Office, leaning on a chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, not really. We all know history doesn’t repeat itself, but sometimes it surely rhymes. And so it does here, as we have the most completely failed presidency since Lyndon Johnson’s, and no, I haven’t forgotten Carter. Mired in a foreign war that it dares not lose but is afraid to win, having torn the country apart with its dreadful domestic policies, the Obama presidency is simply floundering.

And perhaps worse, it continues to tear it own party to pieces. If like me, you remember the 60s, likely what you remember more than anything else, his how the Democratic Party turned on itself. It only recovered because the Republican Party shortly did the same thing under Nixon.

Understand, I’m pretty much of an ideologue, and pretty consistent, but that is not where governance happens. Governance happens somewhere in the middle, neither far left, nor far right. In a number of ways this is the legacy of England and the common law, of which we’ll speak more soon, but it is so, and it’s why no English Speaking country has ever succumbed to dictatorships of either the left or the right.

Noah Rothman wrote about some parallels the other day in Commentary, it’s pretty good reading.

Superficially, the parallels between the issues that will likely to come to dominate the 2016 presidential election and those of another election year, 1968, are eerie.

Abroad, Americans have grown uncomfortable with the president’s halfhearted conduct of a necessary but unloved war. It has become inescapably clear that the tempo of operations is dictated by domestic political concerns rather than strategic considerations in theater. Internationally, a terrible ideology diametrically opposed to Western democratic ideals appears to be gaining ground, attracting support in unlikely corners of the globe, and exporting terrorism and insecurity into the heart of the West. And at home, public fears about the breakdown of order in America’s urban centers and the relationship between law enforcement officials and the public they serve are approaching the forefront of voters’ minds. This presents Republicans an opportunity they would be wise to exploit, but it would be a mistake for the party to think it can simply run the next Richard Nixon and win the White House.

When voters cast their ballots in 1968, their apprehension in regards to accelerating urban violence was palpable. In the four years that preceded that election, rioting in Watts, Baltimore, Washington D.C., New York City, Detroit, Newark, and even right outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago tore at the nation’s social fabric. Today, urban and race-related rioting has again come to occupy American minds as places like Ferguson and Baltimore erupt in self-defeating, inchoate property destruction and violence. Some believe that these riots are a portent of things to come, and the Long Hot Summer of 1967 will recur in 2015.

There are indeed signs that it could all happen again, and that’s very sad. In many ways, we have figured out why 1968 happened, and we know that it killed whole cities, the main one being Gary, Indiana, which when I was a child, was a very good shopping town, if you didn’t want to go all the way to the Loop. Now it makes Benghazi look like a tourist destination. Admittedly there was more than one factor there, the social factors he talks about but also the suicide of the American steel industry. It is also when Detroit began to break down, other cities, like Baltimore, which had a more divergent industry base, managed to survive, although I think none of them thrived.

Today, as a likely result of the left’s demonization of American police, urban law enforcement officials are unable or unwilling to perform the necessarily risky work of policing urban environments. “Violent crime — killings, robberies, rapes and assaults — is rising in half of the 10 biggest U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, where the rate is up 25 percent,” NBC News reported. “Murders are up in four of the biggest cities, most notably New York, the nation’s poster child for crime reduction.” Baltimore has experienced its deadliest month May since1972. “Meanwhile, arrests have plummeted since April’s unrest in Baltimore, with only 1,177 people arrested so far in May compared to 3,801 in the same month last year,” the Baltimore Sun revealed. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson called the spike in violent crime the results of a “Ferguson effect,” and blamed his city’s 17 percent hike in violent crime and 25 percent spike in murders on their inability to conduct proactive policing operations.

There’s little to add to that paragraph is there?

It’s important to note yet again though, that when these riots are fomented, we all know, or at least we should, who gets hurt. It’s not me sitting out here in rural Nebraska, it’s not the politicians in Baltimore or Maryland, or Washington, any price they pay is minor and temporary. The news media actually gains from it as do the race hustlers like Al Sharpton, who have built a lucrative career on this stuff.

So who gets hurt, the largely defenseless people who live in these war zones, and haven’t the resources to flee from them. In other words, the very people the Democratic Party purports to represent, its other groups place into mortal danger, from violence, and from economics for their private gain. Letting people talk you into (and helping you to) burn down your own neighborhood just isn’t going to fix any of your problems.

And this as well:

Republicans would do well to note that they are concerned more with the preservation of black lives and livelihoods than realizing a Marxist revolution fantasy at the expense of American minorities.

 

It’s 1968 All Over Again | Commentary Magazine.

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