Our Country’s Father’s Advice on his Retirement

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

Note: I see that this got rather long, I sort of regret that but, Washington had a long and distinguished career, from the study of which we would prosper, if we gave it the appropriate attention. So while I’m going to crave your indulgence of another old man who worries about his country, I am not going to ask your pardon for the length of this post. If we don’t learn from the great leaders of our history, who will we learn from?

Let’s talk about Washington as a leader. After all, he was a military officer, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and a two-term President as well as the President of the Constitutional Convention, he should have some leadership lessons to teach us. And he does. All quotes unless otherwise noted are  from George Washington on Leadership by  David Witt. Link to his article here.

With great power comes great responsibility.  In the unsettled atmosphere of the American Revolutionbetween the victory at Yorktown in 1781 and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, a movement arose from officers in the Continental Army to proclaim George Washington as King George I of America.

As incredible as it might sound today after 200 years of U.S. democracy, it was a very real possibility and opportunity for Washington.  As the military leader of the fledgling republic, he had the ability and the backing of the colonists who had put their faith and future in his hands.

And yet, Washington quickly dispelled the idea. Upon learning of the proposal, Washington sincerely and admonishingly responded to the officer who had written the original proposal saying that, “…if you have any regard for your Country, concern for yourself or posterity, or respect for me, to banish these thoughts from your Mind, and never communicate, as from yourself, or anyone else, a sentiment of the like Nature. “

For Washington, leadership was not about personal gain or ambition, but instead, service to a higher purpose and a greater good.  And to confirm his intentions eight years later, when the people wanted him to run for a third term—Washington  again voluntarily gave up his power when he refused to be nominated.

Emphasis is mine.

What a difference from today, isn’t it? It wasn’t about Washington at all to Washington. It was about the mission: to create and see the United States of America off as a free and independent country. Here we are hearing one of the best practitioners of servant leadership that ever lived. And because of it, 200 years later he is still considered a demigod all over the world.

Let’s compare the difference in revolutionaries, shall we?

In His Excellency, his heralded biography of Washington, Joseph J. Ellis underscores “the truly exceptional character” of Washington’s act. “Oliver Cromwell had not surrendered power after the English Revolution. Napoleon, Lenin, Mao, and Castro did not step aside to leave their respective revolutionary settlements to others in subsequent centuries. … Whereas Cromwell and later Napoleon made themselves synonymous with the revolution in order to justify the assumption of dictatorial power, Washington made himself synonymous with the American Revolution in order to declare that it was incompatible with dictatorial power.” Ellis thus reminds us that Washington, in relinquishing power — not just once, but twice — was bucking an imperialist pattern that stretched back to the days of the Roman and English republics, and which, sadly, continues to this day.

Joseph Campbell might have called this pattern “ego imperialism,” “trying to impose your idea on the universe.” “That’s what’s got to go,” Campbell insisted in The Hero’s Journey. “Your ego is [only] your embodiment and your self is your potentiality and that’s what you listen to when you listen for the voice of inspiration and the voice of ‘What am I here for? What can I possibly make of myself?’” The great task of the hero, Campbell tells us, is “not to eliminate ego, it’s to turn ego and the judgment system of the moment into the servant of the self, not the dictator, but the vehicle for it to realize itself. It’s a very nice balance, a very delicate one.” It is also a lesson that every American citizen, of any station, would do well to heed.

And it was a lesson engraved in Washington’s psyche by Masonic philosophy and ritual. Unfortunately, Ellis never mentions Washington’s involvement in Freemasonry — a lamentable omission, since Masonic beliefs provide deep insight into Washington’s mind and heart. For example, in the Crata Repoa, an 18th-century work of Masonic philosophy, a ritual is described in which a king “meets [the initiate] graciously and offers the aspirant the royal crown of Egypt,” as Masonic scholar Manly P. Hall recounts. “This pantomime suggests that part of the New Testament where Jesus, as the neophyte, is offered the kingdoms of the earth if he will give up his spiritual mission. … The neophyte takes the crown and, throwing it upon the ground, tramples it under foot. This symbolizes the final conquest of pride, egotism, and the love of power. The initiate refuses the crown of the physical world because his kingdom is not of that world but of the hidden world of spirit.”

Emphasis is again mine.
That makes for an exceptionally American leader, doesn’t it?
Now to the man’s words:

Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the same time, to do me the justice to be assured that this resolution has not been taken without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation which binds a dutiful citizen to his country; and that in withdrawing the tender of service, which silence in my situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness, but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

The acceptance of, and continuance hitherto in, the office to which your suffrages have twice called me have been a uniform sacrifice of inclination to the opinion of duty and to a deference for what appeared to be your desire. I constantly hoped that it would have been much earlier in my power, consistently with motives which I was not at liberty to disregard, to return to that retirement from which I had been reluctantly drawn. The strength of my inclination to do this, previous to the last election, had even led to the preparation of an address to declare it to you; but mature reflection on the then perplexed and critical posture of our affairs with foreign nations, and the unanimous advice of persons entitled to my confidence, impelled me to abandon the idea.

I rejoice that the state of your concerns, external as well as internal, no longer renders the pursuit of inclination incompatible with the sentiment of duty or propriety, and am persuaded, whatever partiality may be retained for my services, that, in the present circumstances of our country, you will not disapprove my determination to retire.

The impressions with which I first undertook the arduous trust were explained on the proper occasion. In the discharge of this trust, I will only say that I have, with good intentions, contributed towards the organization and administration of the government the best exertions of which a very fallible judgment was capable. Not unconscious in the outset of the inferiority of my qualifications, experience in my own eyes, perhaps still more in the eyes of others, has strengthened the motives to diffidence of myself; and every day the increasing weight of years admonishes me more and more that the shade of retirement is as necessary to me as it will be welcome. Satisfied that if any circumstances have given peculiar value to my services, they were temporary, I have the consolation to believe that, while choice and prudence invite me to quit the political scene, patriotism does not forbid it.

In looking forward to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me; still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me; and for the opportunities I have thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment, by services faithful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal. If benefits have resulted to our country from these services, let it always be remembered to your praise, and as an instructive example in our annals, that under circumstances in which the passions, agitated in every direction, were liable to mislead, amidst appearances sometimes dubious, vicissitudes of fortune often discouraging, in situations in which not unfrequently want of success has countenanced the spirit of criticism, the constancy of your support was the essential prop of the efforts, and a guarantee of the plans by which they were effected. Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows that heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free Constitution, which is the work of your hands, may be sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that, in fine, the happiness of the people of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

Strong words from a true “Servant of the Republic” aren’t they? To continue:

Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify or confirm the attachment.

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.

For this you have every inducement of sympathy and interest. Citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from local discriminations. With slight shades of difference, you have the same religion, manners, habits, and political principles. You have in a common cause fought and triumphed together; the independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint counsels, and joint efforts of common dangers, sufferings, and successes.

But these considerations, however powerfully they address themselves to your sensibility, are greatly outweighed by those which apply more immediately to your interest. Here every portion of our country finds the most commanding motives for carefully guarding and preserving the union of the whole.

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

Read these paragraphs carefully in light of our recent experience of government run amok.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.

Towards the preservation of your government, and the permanency of your present happy state, it is requisite, not only that you steadily discountenance irregular oppositions to its acknowledged authority, but also that you resist with care the spirit of innovation upon its principles, however specious the pretexts. One method of assault may be to effect, in the forms of the Constitution, alterations which will impair the energy of the system, and thus to undermine what cannot be directly overthrown. In all the changes to which you may be invited, remember that time and habit are at least as necessary to fix the true character of governments as of other human institutions; that experience is the surest standard by which to test the real tendency of the existing constitution of a country; that facility in changes, upon the credit of mere hypothesis and opinion, exposes to perpetual change, from the endless variety of hypothesis and opinion; and remember, especially, that for the efficient management of your common interests, in a country so extensive as ours, a government of as much vigor as is consistent with the perfect security of liberty is indispensable. Liberty itself will find in such a government, with powers properly distributed and adjusted, its surest guardian. It is, indeed, little else than a name, where the government is too feeble to withstand the enterprises of faction, to confine each member of the society within the limits prescribed by the laws, and to maintain all in the secure and tranquil enjoyment of the rights of person and property.

It is important, likewise, that the habits of thinking in a free country should inspire caution in those entrusted with its administration, to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, avoiding in the exercise of the powers of one department to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism. A just estimate of that love of power, and proneness to abuse it, which predominates in the human heart, is sufficient to satisfy us of the truth of this position. The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositaries, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern; some of them in our country and under our own eyes. To preserve them must be as necessary as to institute them. If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed. The precedent must always greatly overbalance in permanent evil any partial or transient benefit, which the use can at any time yield.

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?

Promote then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear. The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives, but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind that towards the payment of debts there must be revenue; that to have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment, inseparable from the selection of the proper objects (which is always a choice of difficulties), ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of the government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.

And finally:

In offering to you, my countrymen, these counsels of an old and affectionate friend, I dare not hope they will make the strong and lasting impression I could wish; that they will control the usual current of the passions, or prevent our nation from running the course which has hitherto marked the destiny of nations. But, if I may even flatter myself that they may be productive of some partial benefit, some occasional good; that they may now and then recur to moderate the fury of party spirit, to warn against the mischiefs of foreign intrigue, to guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism; this hope will be a full recompense for the solicitude for your welfare, by which they have been dictated.

How far in the discharge of my official duties I have been guided by the principles which have been delineated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. To myself, the assurance of my own conscience is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided by them. …

Relying on its kindness in this as in other things, and actuated by that fervent love towards it, which is so natural to a man who views in it the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectation that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking, in the midst of my fellow-citizens, the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers.

Geo. Washington.

Sir Edward Coke on the Latest Soros Leak: How To Censor The Internet

soros-1-worldBoth of us here actually prefer to deal with underlying causes of the problems of our civilization, which is fine but we also realize that current events (and their daily alarms) are also part of our brief. We ignore quite a few, mostly because if you are moderately aware, you will find them easily enough. That’s all well and good, but sometimes we do think we should comment on some of them.

You may have heard that in about a month, America is due to turn over control of the internet to the United Nations. Sounds pretty harmless to most, I suppose. But is it really? Is it a good idea to turn over the last real bastion of free speech to an organization that thinks Cuba, China, and Saudi Arabia are valid choices to judge human rights violations? Doesn’t strike me as a very good idea. Our friend Cultural Limits wrote about this recently, including part of an email dated 2014 from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation that is relevant.

“Our freedom of expression work furthers the free exchange of information and ideas via the media and internet, and proposes to begin to address the free expression and association rights of NGOs. The internet has been a key tool for promoting freedom of expression and open societies — as in the Arab Spring — and is a potential safeguard against monopoly control of information in such places as China and Central Asia,” page 19 of the document notes.

“But it is also presenting underaddressed challenges, including lack of regulation of private operators that are able to decide, without due process procedures, what information is taken off the Internet and what may remain. A ‘race to the bottom’ results from the agendas of undemocratic governments that seek to impose their hostility to free speech on the general online environment. We seek to ensure that, from among the norms emerging in different parts of the world, those most supportive of open society gain sway.”…

One of the “Program concepts and initiatives” listed in the document is to “Promote — by advocating for the adoption of nuanced legal norms, and litigation — an appropriate balance between privacy and free expression/transparency values in areas of particular interest to OSF and the Justice Initiative, including online public interest speech, access to ethnic data, public health statistics, corporate beneficial ownership, asset declarations of public officials, and rights of NGOs to keep information private.”

Another initiative is to “Establish states’ responsibility to collect data necessary to reveal patterns of inequality, and define modes of collection that are effective and protect privacy.” (RELATED: UN Internet Agenda Tied To George Soros)

Throughout the document, OSJI’s position appears to be that private actors on the internet must be brought under international control in order to prevent them from suppressing each other’s freedom of expression and speech.

CL’s emphasis and  noting that this was part of the cache that was wiped from the DCLeaks website.

She continues:

[…] (This would be the end of Charity Navigator and like websites that keep non-profit claim transparent and honest.)

Fortunately for the rest of us, The Daily Caller saved a copy of the communications and is able to deliver a steady drip of information that will never be reported on the regular news organs.  The optics are not good for anyone who thinks that American-style freedom of speech would be maintained in any sort of international takeover of the internet.  This document very clearly presents the case for stamping out messaging that does not fall in line with the Open Society agenda.

via Latest Soros Leak: How To Censor The Internet ⋆ Dc Gazette

I agree, and I wouldn’t bet on the survival of many of the sites you have come to depend on either. I simply don’t trust the UN at all on this sort of issue. In fact, while I tend to be sceptical of even the US, we are much better about this than even the UK, with their penchant lately for uneven application of so-called hate crime legislation (not to mention any objective definition of the very vague term).

But most of us do understand freedom of speech, and that it is a fundamental right of a free society, going back officially to the First Amendment, but its roots are in the Declaration’s list of natural rights. Over at The Calvinist International, they reminded us the other day that Sir Edward Coke (one of the major legal interpreters in 17th century Britain, and one of the most read books in colonial America) said this about natural rights

The law of nature is that which God at the time of creation of the nature of man infused into his heart, for his preservation and direction; and this is lex eterna [the eternal law], the moral law, called also the law of nature. And by this law, written with the finger of God in the heart of man, were the people of God a long time governed, before the law was written by Moses, who was the first reporter or writer of law in the world. The Apostle in the second chapter to the Romans saith, Cum enim gentes quæ legem non habent naturaliter ea quæ legissunt faciunt [For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, naturally do the things of the law]. [..] Aristotle, nature’s secretary, lib. 5. Ethic. saith, that jus naturale est, quod apud omnes homines eandem habet potentiam [It is the law of nature, which has the same force among all men].


You may be quite certain that both Tom Jefferson and Jemmy Madison had read and understood this passage quite well.

Thoughts On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting In The Modern Age”

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Patrick Henry

The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. Patrick Henry

This has been on my mind, as well. From the Adaptive Curmudgeon.

Still here? OK then I’ll start. The Z-Blog posted wise thoughts in On Being Revolting in the Modern Age:

“Certainly voting for Trump sends a message, but messages need a sender and a receiver. If the people on the other end refuse to acknowledge the message being sent, then it’s not really a message. The Olive Branch Petition was the last ditch effort by the Colonist to avoid a breach with the mother country, but the King’s refusal turned it from a message to him into a message from him. That message was clear to the colonials. They could either submit unconditionally or prepare for war. A Trump win followed by a unified refusal by the political class to cooperate would also be clear message.”

You’d be hard pressed to find any living being who likes the 2016 election cycle so one more blogger bitching about it (self included) is irrelevant. But, just for the record, I’ve spent decades observing D.C. and thinking“these people are playing with fire”. I perpetually wish they’d quit trodding upon large groups of people. No good can come of it.

The Z-Blog adds the usual about the media giving up on even the appearance of journalism:

“A little girl skins her knee and there is a news team there to blame Trump in a four hour TV special. Hillary Clinton is caught running a pay-for-play scheme and no one can be bothered to ask her why she went to the trouble of installing an illegal e-mail system in her bathroom.”

While that’s all true I haven’t expected news from the news in decades. Nobody has.

My big observation of the “Hillary’s private server with State secrets affair” wasn’t about the press. It was about the people; or rather roughly half of the people. A moment passed that felt colder and more unsettling than the usual “they’ve fucked us again” situation.

Think about it like this; the FBI infuriated half the electorate and that half… did nothing. Yet it wasn’t a moment of defeat. It wasn’t a wail of despair, not gloom, not anger, not resignation, not desperation. It was a subdued tone of quiet finality. An acceptance that corruption is so deep that no one, nobody at all, can pretend otherwise.

We all know it. Jerks with badges will shut down a child’s lemonade stand, convict your car of a crime, demand a license for your dog, zone your house into oblivion for a salamander, and invade nations you’ve never heard of… but everyone everywhere knows that mishandling State secrets will put anyone in the clink. Or at least it formerly would.

The FBI just demonstrated they’re afraid to enforce the law when Hillary is involved. They did it in front of God. They did it on live TV. Like the moon landing, it’s an event with a clear “before” and a clear “after”. I think it unwise to have fomented such a moment.

via Thoughs On Z-Blog’s “On Being Revolting In The Modern Age” | Adaptive Curmudgeon

He’s right, when Comey made that statement, there wasn’t much of an uproar amongst conservatives. It was like we noted it, thanked him for being honest, and went silent. That was my reaction as well. There’s nothing left to say. For many of us, it’s over, the Republic has failed, not because Clinton skated, that sort of crap has happened often enough. No, it failed because one of the chief law enforcement officers of the Republic is afraid to do his job, and essentially said so openly.

He’s right also that there are two kinds of silence: the silence of resignation and defeat and that is what I suspect the left thinks it is, I think them wrong. The other one is one of quiet determination and resolve, and knowing that there is little left to say across the chasm. What will be, will be.

Thing is, Americans are a bunch of stubborn cusses, and far more capable than almost other nationality, there’s a reason that America has led the world for at least a hundred years, and the ones going silent are the productive ones. AC put it this way:

It reminds me of Ralf Waldo Emerson’s admonition “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” I’d much rather have seen the right wing burning cars and spray painting American flags on walls… but the quiet ones don’t roll that way. And really, who thinks a riot and a burned car does any good?

Also I’m a little worried. When Americans get motivated they’re not ineffective. They’ll put a man on the moon, build a 1,000 horsepower NASCAR, win every damn gold medal they can, whatever. I worry that should they get violent they’ll be too damn good at it.

And that’s what makes me nervous. It’s not the dog that barks that you need to watch. It’s the one you’ve kicked several times but it didn’t back down.

Yes, that is so. Jess and I like to quote Rudyard Kipling, and his poetry defines a good many of us beyond the English, it pretty much wraps up the Protestant, Northern European ethos, that built the modern world. In Recessional, he wrote this:

Far-called, our navies melt away;
   On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
   Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
   Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
   Or lesser breeds without the Law—
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
And in Norman and Saxon, he described us better than any man ever has, I think:
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

“You can horsewhip your Gascony archers, or torture your Picardy spears;
But don’t try that game on the Saxon; you’ll have the whole brood round your ears.
From the richest old Thane in the county to the poorest chained serf in the field,
They’ll be at you and on you like hornets, and, if you are wise, you will yield.

I, like most of you, detest what I am seeing this year, and I really detest the thought of violence, but I no longer think it unthinkable.
Patrick Henry once said.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. 

If we wish to be free — if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending — if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! […]

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!

That sums up quite well what I sense is the mood of a goodly part of the country, I despise violence that could easily turn into a civil war, but

Keep your powder dry.


A Most Conservative Revolution

pic_giant_070314_AToday we celebrate for the 240th time, something the Founders did not want. Independence. What they wanted was the restoration of their rights as freeborn Englishmen. Our revolution was in direct line of succession from Magna Charta, The English Civil War, and The Glorious Revolution (and its Bill of Rights upon which our own was mostly based).

Washington’s Army was very nearly the Roundhead army of Parliament reincarnate. And it was stood up for the very same reason. The “long train of abuses and usurpations” by the King which Jefferson documented, could have been written by the leaders of the Civil War. Let’s look at that document, shall we.

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Often we read Jefferson’s prose in the beginning and end of the Declaration and skip the “Bill of Particulars”. We shouldn’t. There written in plain English is the quest of the English Speaking people, for a stable, free and representative law. It is a quest that hearkens all the way back to Saxon times and continues today.

We must note that this view was one that was very current in the England of 1776 as well. Edmund Burke said this:

We also reason and feel as you do on the invasion of your charters. Because the charters comprehend the essential forms by which you enjoy your liberties, we regard them as most sacred, and by no means to be taken away or altered without process, without examination, and without hearing, as they have lately been.

Charles James Fox said, in a famous speech, “I say, that the people of England have a right to control the executive power, by the interference of their representatives in this House of parliament.” And he even took to wearing the Buff and Blue colors of Washington’s army on the floor of Parliament itself.

William Pitt the Elder unsuccessfully attempted to have Parliament offer the Colonies what would be later called Commonwealth status.

So we see that we today celebrate a reluctant Independence but one that the Founders found necessary to maintain their rights, and they have passed on to us the responsibility to maintain them. It is no small responsibility but it one we must take seriously to be able to hand our freedom down to our posterity.

I’m one of those curmudgeons who don’t think the National Anthem should be messed with but, I happily admit to loving this version. Consistency is overrated!

And finally, I would remind you that of all the anthems of all the nations in the world, only the Star Spangled Banner ends with a question.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

How that question is answered is up to us.

In a sort of very pertinent aside, the very fact of the conservativeness of our Revolution, is why, I think so many conservative Britons have, in the last week, given our founders a good share of the credit for Brexit. I agree with them, it is the American founders, and the traditions flowing from them, and their basis in British law and tradition, that made Brexit possible, along with the quiet stubbornness of the British where freedom is concerned.

And so,


I would remind our British friends though of that last sentence, which has been the reason it has worked, nothing less is demanded of us.

And for the support of this Declaration,

with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,

we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Continue the mission

God Bless America, and God Save the Queen

The Magnificent Rabble

revere rideListen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Other than recalling a fragment of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wonderful, if historically inaccurate poem, many Americans, myself included, do not know much more about Paul Revere, the man, and his ride through Middlesex county to alert the countryside on the movement, in force, of British Regulars in the direction of Lexington.

The British aimed to snatch John Hancock and Sam Adams before moving on to Concord to seize a large cache of munitions on that consequential night in April 1775.

Paul Revere, J S CopleyJohn Singleton Copley’s portrait of Paul Revere, circa 1771, presents a picture of a confident, accomplished artisan or “mechanic” as silversmiths and other craftsmen were called in that era. In this image, Revere is 35 years old, confident, casual and prosperous, with his tools about him, holding a silver teapot.

David Hackett Fischer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of the indispensable book, Paul Revere’s Ride (1994), describes Copley’s Revere: “His shirt is plain and simple, but it is handsomely cut from fine linen.” He is “of middling height, neither tall nor short. He is strong and stocky, with broad shoulders, a thick neck, muscular arms and powerful wrists…His eyes are deep chestnut brown, and their high-arched brows give the face a permanently quizzical expression.”

“The gaze is clear and very direct.” It is “the steady look of an independent man,” writes Fischer.

– See more at: http://catholiclane.com/searching-for-paul-revere/#sthash.1s5k4qj5.dpuf

The battles for American independence began more than a year before the historic vote of the Colonies to declare independence from Britain. The British Army, along with their Navy and Marines had occupied Boston since 1768. The following are the battles fought before and after America actually had an official Army, rather than the magnificent “rabble” who accomplished so much, with so little. Below is the flavor of some of the most important battlefields. Most of what follows is a repost from 2012. I hope my new readers are as awed at the birthing of America, made possible by the magnificent rabble who fought and marched and froze and starved and died, as I am.

Happy Birthday America!


The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more. ~ John Adams

Home of the Free, Because of the Brave

The Magnificent Rabble – The Battles for the Birthing of America

Lincoln invited Douglas’s audience to return the next evening for his reply to Douglas’s speech.Lincoln’s speech of July 10, 1858, is one of his many great speeches, but in one respect it is uniquely great. It concludes with an explanation of the meaning of this day to Americans with matchless eloquence and insight in words that remain as relevant now as then.

lincoln1860Now, it happens that we meet together once every year, sometime about the 4th of July, for some reason or other. These 4th of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. If you will indulge me, I will state what I suppose to be some of them.

We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty—or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country,—with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men,—we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our posterity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves—we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better men in the age, and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have besides these men—descended by blood from our ancestors—among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe—German, Irish, French and Scandinavian—men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as though they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration [loud and long continued applause], and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world. [Applause.]


4 July 1776 fired off a crazy rocking rolling ride that hasn’t stopped ‘stirring things up’ on a global scale.

Advancing arrogance into an art form with a remarkable relentless risque commitment to liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, and laissez-faire values. 

America differs qualitatively from all other nations, because of her unique origins, nat’l credo, historical evolution, and distinctive political and religious institutions.

Great Satan is magically especial because she was a country of immigrants and the first modern democracy. 

Loud, proud and rowdy – early America forecast future stuff with a provocative lingo that still fits today. “Don’t Tread On Me!” “Liberty Or Death”, “Live Free Or Die” 

Great Satan’s superiority of the American xperiment is reflected in the perception among Americans of America’s role in the world. That American foreign policy is based on moral principles is a consistent theme in the American hot diplopolititary gossip – a phenomenon recognized even by those who are skeptic of such an assessment. 

This inclination to do right has been virtually unique among the nations of the world – and for this very reason – America has been totally misunderstood. How could a nation so rich, so successful actually, really be so unselfish and so caring?

Unconvincing (and either historically igno – or deceitfully dishonest – either term will do) critics cry Great Satan must have darker motives! America must be seeking imperium – to dominate everyone else, suck up all the oil, to trade and rob blind for America’s selfish purposes. 

People from more grasping, less idealistic societies find it nigh impossible to accept that America honestly believes that giving everyone opportunity is the real roadmap for abundance and happiness everywhere – not merely in the magical Great Satan.

Americans honestly believe that securing other people’s freedom is actually like the best guarantee that America can keep her own.

Hullo, Mummy. Welcome to the Revolution!

World US

How Americans see Europe

Over here, we’ve long viewed the United Kindom as the mother country. After all, we based our freedom on English practice, as we did our law, our trade practices, and even our treatment of each other. In fact, that was so strong that our founders referred to the Revolution, not the rebellion. That is because we were completing the revolution, restoring our rights as Englishmen, not rebelling against lawful authority. That is most of the reason that after the unpleasantness in 1812-1815, it became pretty easy for us to resume our friendship.

And you know, the revolution is completing yet again, as the United Kingdom itself finds itself in exactly the same position as we did 240 years ago, being ruled by another power, without representation, in their case, Brussels and the European Union. Mark Twain said history rhymes, but this is almost as close as history ever comes to repeating.

Robert Tracinski over at The Federalist has also noticed this phenomenon:

[Recently at Colonial Williamsburg] Oh yes, and we also got together in a mob outside Raleigh Tavern and hanged Lord North in effigy. […] Most of you, I suspect, will not know who Lord North was or why we were (symbolically) hanging him. But it’s entirely relevant today.

w1056 (1)Lord North was His Majesty’s Prime Minister during the crucial years of the American Revolution, from 1770 to 1782. The specific infractions for which he was subjected to mock trial and hanging in effigy were the Intolerable Acts, a series of punitive measures against Boston that were widely interpreted as a declaration of war against colonial America.

Today, we tend to think of the American Revolution as a war against King George III. But it was just as much a war against the British Parliament and its leadership, which was increasingly regarded by Americans as a “foreign” body that did not represent them. We already had our own, long-established legislatures (Virginia’s General Assembly, for example, will soon celebrate its 400th anniversary and is one of the oldest in the world), and we considered them to be our proper representatives, solely authorized to approve legislation on our behalf.

[and] The key issue — the breaking point — is the European Union’s practice of seeking to validate its authority through popular referendums then ignoring them when they don’t get the result they wanted.

The EU crossed a fatal line when it smuggled through the Treaty of Lisbon, by executive cabal, after the text had already been rejected by French and Dutch voters in its earlier guise. It is one thing to advance the Project by stealth and the Monnet method, it is another to call a plebiscite and then to override the outcome.

[…] And when you think of it, we were just following the British example. Britain had faced its own conflicts between the authority of Parliament and the overreaching ambitions of its kings, and they had already set the example of removing the king to preserve the power of Parliament. Before we did it in the 18th century, they did it in the 17th century — twice. Britain itself had established the precedents of the rule of law and the consent of the governed. I don’t know why they would want to throw that away now.

via Brexit: Welcome, Britain, To Our Revolution

You know he is exactly right. We took those (God-given) rights that the English had taken back for themselves, and enforced that they could not be removed from the people, as the English had done over the centuries. That is really how the Amerexit from the first empire came about. Now it’s up to the British to take back Britain for themselves, with Brexit. If you think you need justification, how about John Locke, who said this:

The people alone can appoint the form of the commonwealth, which is by constituting the legislative, and appointing in whose hands that shall be. And when the people have said, We will submit to rules, and be governed by laws made by such men, and in such forms, no body else can say other men shall make laws for them; nor can the people be bound by any laws, but such as are enacted by those whom they have chosen, and authorized to make laws for them. The power of the legislative[,] being derived from the people by a positive voluntary grant and institution, can be no other than what that positive grant conveyed, which being only to make laws, and not to make legislators, the legislative can have no power to transfer their authority of making laws, and place it in other hands.

He was hardly alone, he was supported in Parliament (the only time it happened) by both William Pitt the Elder, and Charles James Fox, who took to wearing the blue and buff of the Continental Army in Parliament itself.

John Adams chimed in with this:

The fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratical council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor. Equally arbitrary, cruel, bloody, and in every respect diabolical.

Yes, we’ve talked about this before, that article is here.

One of the things that America has preserved is the written history of liberty, it is probably harder with the government in Parliament, and that problem is why our founders organized these United States as they did. We’re an originalist bunch, basing ourselves on rights hard won by Englishmen and Americans alike.

UKIP has a very cute video out as well.

Come on out, the sun is shining and there’s corn, and most of all, there’s freedom.

Something I rarely do, but I think you should also read this:



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