A Not-So-Happy Fourth of July

How can we celebrate the degradation of liberty?

Do you have more personal liberty today than on the Fourth of July 2012?

When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, he used language that has become iconic. He wrote that we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, and among them are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Not only did he write those words, but the first Congress adopted them unanimously, and they are still the law of the land today. By acknowledging that our rights are inalienable, Jefferson's words and the first federal statute recognize that our rights come from our humanity -- from within us -- and not from the government.

The government the Framers gave us was not one that had the power and ability to decide how much freedom each of us should have, but rather one in which we individually and then collectively decided how much power the government should have. That, of course, is also recognized in the Declaration, wherein Jefferson wrote that the government derives its powers from the consent of the governed.

To what governmental powers may the governed morally consent in a free society? We can consent to the powers necessary to protect us from force and fraud, and to the means of revenue to pay for a government to exercise those powers. But no one can consent to the diminution of anyone else's natural rights, because, as Jefferson wrote and the Congress enacted, they are inalienable.

Just as I cannot morally consent to give the government the power to take your freedom of speech or travel or privacy, you cannot consent to give the government the power to take mine. This is the principle of the natural law: We all have areas of human behavior in which each of us is sovereign and for the exercise of which we do not need the government's permission. Those areas are immune from government interference.

That is at least the theory of the Declaration of Independence, and that is the basis for our 237-year-old American experiment in limited government, and it is the system to which everyone who works for the government today pledges fidelity.

Regrettably, today we have the opposite of what the Framers gave us. Today we have a government that alone decides how much wealth we can retain, how much free expression we can exercise, how much privacy we can enjoy. And since the Fourth of July 2012, freedom has been diminished.

In the past year, all branches of the federal government have combined to diminish personal freedoms, in obvious and in subtle ways. In the case of privacy, we now know that the federal government has the ability to read all of our texts and emails and listen to all of our telephone calls -- mobile and landline -- and can do so without complying with the Constitution's requirements for a search warrant. We now know that President Obama authorized this, federal judges signed off on this, and select members of Congress knew of this, but all were sworn to secrecy, and so none could discuss it. And we only learned of this because a young former spy risked his life, liberty and property to reveal it.

In the past year, Obama admitted that he ordered the CIA in Virginia to use a drone to kill two Americans in Yemen, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy. He did so because the boy's father, who was with him at the time of the murders, was encouraging militants to wage war against the U.S.
He wasn't waging war, according to the president; he was encouraging it.

Simultaneously with this, the president claimed he can use a drone to kill whomever he wants, so long as the person is posing an active threat to the U.S., is difficult to arrest and fits within guidelines that the president himself has secretly written to govern himself.

In the past year, the Supreme Court has ruled that if you are in police custody and fail to assert your right to remain silent, the police at the time of trial can ask the jury to infer that you are guilty. This may seem like a technical ruling about who can say what to whom in a courtroom, but it is in truth a radical break from the past.

Everyone knows that we all have the natural and constitutionally guaranteed right to silence. And anyone in the legal community knows that judges for generations have told jurors that they may construe nothing with respect to guilt or innocence from the exercise of that right. No longer. Today, you remain silent at your peril.

In the past year, the same Supreme Court has ruled that not only can you be punished for silence, but you can literally be forced to open your mouth. The court held that upon arrest -- not conviction, but arrest -- the police can force you to open your mouth so they can swab the inside of it and gather DNA material from you.

Put aside the legal truism that an arrest is evidence of nothing and can and does come about for flimsy reasons; DNA is the gateway to personal data about us all. Its involuntary extraction has been insulated by the Fourth Amendment's requirements of relevance and probable cause of crime. No longer. Today, if you cross the street outside of a crosswalk, get ready to open your mouth for the police.

The litany of the loss of freedom is sad and unconstitutional and irreversible. The government does whatever it can to retain its power, and it continues so long as it can get away with it. It can listen to your phone calls, read your emails, seize your DNA and challenge your silence, all in violation of the Constitution. Bitterly and ironically, the government Jefferson wrought is proving the accuracy of Jefferson's prediction that in the long march of history, government grows and liberty shrinks. Somewhere Jefferson is weeping.

Happy Fourth of July 2013.

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  • AlgerHiss||

    If you join the military, that’s fine. But you ought to ask yourself a couple of questions:

    What, precisely, am I defending?

    Is it worth defending?

    Land of the free and home of the brave? What a laugh line that has become.

  • mr lizard||

    You are defending FYTW because Fuck You that's why... Now here's your fire-proof sparkler

  • Almanian!||

    ....and don't load that chamber in your weapon, soldier! We're on a Peacekeeping Mission!

  • aber2578||

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  • mistythomas221||

    my buddy's sister makes $78 hourly on the internet. She has been without work for 5 months but last month her payment was $12747 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site.... WWW.CNN13.COM

  • amyfoster36||

    my roomate's sister-in-law makes $66 an hour on the computer. She has been fired for five months but last month her pay check was $19069 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this site.... WWW.CNN13.COM

  • ||

    like Johnny implied I'm blown away that a single mom able to get paid $4012 in four weeks on the internet. did you see this webpage... www.Blue48.com

  • timbo||

    Yeah. I think they are called prostitutes.

  • TommyD||

    Happy Independence Day indeed. He forgot to mention shoot and kill your dog in front of you.

  • John||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    UK Satanists are embarrassed to be linked to the pro-abortion cause. I mean, you gotta have *some* standards!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Choicers chant "Hail Satan" while a post-abortive woman is giving a prolife speech:

    http://conservativeintel.com/2.....tathouse/#

    In a separate incident, the Atlantic admits there were five Satan-chanters:

    http://www.theatlanticwire.com.....tan/66834/

  • ant1sthenes||

    Well duh. You can't form a pentagram without five people.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    I was doing some trivia the other and happened upon the names of three Founding Fathers - Gerry, Mason and Randolph - who didn't sign the Declaration of Independence because it hadn't gone far enough in protecting state and individual rights. They were looking for specific language defending as much. Their efforts, in part and along with a suspicious population, led to the the amendments in the Bill of Rights.

    Were they prescient or were there other factors at play?

    Thoughts by my American friends?

  • ||

    Gerry signed the Declaration. I think you mean support the Constitution.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Yes, sorry. I was reading the DoI as I typed. Cross-contamination.

  • ||

    Doing a little research on the origin of the bill of rights makes it seem they were very prescient and they fought very hard to include a list of protected rights. Many of them firmly believed that if the government was serious about liberty then the constitution should include a list of protected rights, and without it they would inevitably violate those rights.

    They were correct in that sense, but incorrect that listing them out specifically would protect those rights.

  • db||

    They tragically failed to recognize that any power structure, regardless of how well intentioned, will always take on a life of its own and seek to increase its power and influence. They for some reason thought that if the founding documents were worded just so, they could prevent this. Unfortunately, this is a bit like assuming that by summoning a demon with just the right spell, it can be contained. I'm not a supernaturalist, but I think it's an apt comparison.

  • John||

    They did a hell of a job. Other than a few exceptions in time of war, the government did not get out of control until the 1930s. They built a system that lasted in a pretty close form to its intended for over 150 years. That is amazing. And even now as bad as it is, it could be worse. We could be the UK. Our Constitution is the only thing that keeps that from happening.

  • db||

    It has lasted quite a long time. When people started falling in love with the idea of free shit instead of Liberty, the battle was lost. Bread and circuses, manna from Heaven.

  • John||

    And they even saw that. The Federalist papers warn against giving free shit. Once you start giving free shit, even if said free shit is really needed, there is no stopping it.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The progressives of the late 19th-early 20th centuries were motivated by expertphilia, not free shit.

  • Inigo M.||

    We could be the UK? Why stop there? We could be just like North Korea, except the pres here will probably always have a better haircut and wardrobe.

    While I HOPE you're right about the Constitution preventing further slippage into tyranny, I don't see it in practice. Today's leaders simply flout it with impunity. If it's referenced at all, it's as a "living document" that's open to interpretation and "modernization."

  • Almanian!||

    What John said. For all its faults, it was a system that stayed pretty true for a fairly long time. It really started getting fucked up after the civil war....although, ironically, that war "fixed" the HUGE issue with the orig Constitution, i.e. slavery.

    But I think it was encouraging that the doc contained a process to correct that error via amendment, so still an amazing job by the authors. The fact that they thought of all the things they did - I'd have never thought of all those things. I guess together we're smarter...IRONIC ALSO for the rugged individualist!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    What John said. For all its faults, it was a system that stayed pretty true for a fairly long time. It really started getting fucked up after the civil war....although, ironically, that war "fixed" the HUGE issue with the orig Constitution, i.e. slavery.

    Seriously?

    The Civil War was the result of a Constitutional crisis on at least 2 levels: the issue of slavery could no longer be be justified, and the federal government was hell-bent on making states rights a thing of the past.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Other than a few exceptions in time of war when people need the protections in the BoR the most, the government did not get out of control until the 1930s.

    FIFY

  • ||

    Perhaps the Constitution should have mandated some punishments for violating it?

  • Raven Nation||

    Actually, Hamilton made pretty much this point in one of the Federalist Papers. One of his objections to a bill of rights was that you could never list all of them and that opened the door for a future government to curb liberties not listed. That was why #9 was part of the BoR.

    Now, I have issues with Hamilton for a bunch of reasons, but he was kind of right on that one.

  • Raven Nation||

    Or, you know, just read John's post below.

  • MJGreen||

    It is a good argument. I think, speaking abstractly, it is the correct argument.

    But it came from Hamilton. I'm not as intensely anti-Hamilton as some libertarians, but are we really going to think he was sincere with this? The Federalists Papers was a propaganda piece first and foremost, and the Constitution was not some innocent and purely philosophical document. It was drafted behind closed doors, without authorization from the current system, and did practically serve some groups' interests and the expense of others.

    I wouldn't take Hamilton at his word that the unrecognized rights would be respected without a BoR.

  • sgs||

    " It was drafted behind closed doors, without authorization from the current system, and did practically serve some groups' interests and the expense of others."

    So what?

  • MJGreen||

    So... it makes the whole endeavor somewhat suspect. And, as such, I would be skeptical when one of its chief backers says he's arguing in the interest of protecting liberty.

    How many here gave serious thought to Pat Toomey's argument that his bill with Manchin would improve gun rights rather than restrict them?

  • Virginian||

    Indeed. There's a lot to be said for open covenants, openly arrived at.

    There's a reason so many people who signed the Declaration refused to sign the Constitution. They saw it as a betrayal of the revolution, in many cases.

  • John||

    The argument was that if you didn't have a BOR, the government might some day say we had no rights. But if you did have a BOR, the courts might some day say those are the only rights we have. So there was a lot of debate about the need for a BOR.

    IN the end, both sides were proven right. Without a BOR, I have no doubt we would be like the UK and have no rights. But with one, we are stuck with only those rights the courts think the document protects.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Simple. Have a BOR and just put in a clause that explicitly says the listed ones are not the only rights people have. How could someone misinterpret that?

  • John||

    That was a great idea, right up until the Courts just ignored that little gem.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Maybe give it a snappy name like the ninth amendment.

  • Agammamon||

    I'm thinking that the Bill of Rights is one of the worst things we did in the constitution.

    Its what has enabled all this "where does it say you have that right?" shit.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    This. It takes the focus off what the federal government was allowed to do and moved it to what the people are allowed to do.

    It should have been left off so the question should always be "where does it say the federal government can do that?" rather than quibbling over what's an abridgement or restriction and what's not.

    Without the 2d, the question is, "Where does the Constitution say you have any power over arms, period?" rather than parsing militias and group rights and whatever else.

  • Calidissident||

    I disagree with this. Without the BOR, people would just say, "Where in the Constitution does it say the government can't do X" while twisting some other phrase ("general welfare", "interstate commerce", "necessary and proper", etc.) to justify what they're proposing

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Indeed. At least with the BoR people have some concept that they have some right to a minimum level of freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    At least with the BoR people have some concept that they have some right to a minimum level of freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.

    Especially when the BoR contains a good chunk of those rights which could be considered as absolutely necessary.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    I thought we were talking about people who act in good faith. No words, or lack or words, will restrain the type of people you cite.

  • Calidissident||

    We're talking about politicians. I agree that the BOR by itself isn't enough to stop them, but it does provide opponents with easy arguments against their actions. Do you honestly think there would be a lesser chance of, say, federal gun control on par with Europe if there was no Second Amendment?

  • ||

    Its what has enabled all this "where does it say you have that right?" shit.

    Simple answer...

    9A.

  • ||

    "By acknowledging that our rights are inalienable, Jefferson's words and the first federal statute recognize that our rights come from our humanity -- from within us -- and not from the government."

    I know the Judge is a religious man and thus believes that inalienable rights are endowed by a creator. I am not a believer, yet I have never had any problem with inalienable rights. By virtue of our humanity is good enough for me. We may disagree on where those come from, but we agree that they exist.

    Those that say no creator means no inalienable rights are attempting to assert ownership of their fellow man, yet lack any philosophical foundation for that assertion. No person, in that vein of thought, has any more right than any other to assert ownership. They accuse the inalienable rights proponents of having no philosophical basis, yet they lack that very thing themselves.

    Unless they are honest enough to come out and admit that they believe might makes right, which is what it always comes down to with them, in practice if not theory.

  • db||

    Personally, I was glad to see the Judge refrain from hanging his argument from a religious hook, as he frequently does. I've made the case in the past that relying on a religious interpretation of inherent rights unnecessarily limits his potential audience. I think he will reach far more people by cutting out the religious references that often feel tacked on.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "religious references that often feel tacked on"

    Dude. "Creator" is in the text.

  • db||

    Yeah, well Jefferson didn't need to write that either.

  • SlowburnAZ||

    "Creator", not "God"

  • sgs||

    Creator isn't religious unless you want it to be.

  • cavalier973||

    Somehow "endowed by the completely purposeless combination of chemicals and energy that resulted in life" doesn't have the same zing.

  • ||

    "I've made the case in the past that relying on a religious interpretation of inherent rights unnecessarily limits his potential audience."

    And you are exactly right.

  • ||

    I don't think so. I'm an atheist and while I disagree with the Judge on where things started we seem to agree on where things are now.

  • John||

    The problem is that without a God, it is hard to come up with a source for equality and equal rights. Yes, you can make a case for it, but you are left with making a practical case that it is a good thing. But that puts you down on the level of utilitarians.

    The argument you want and need to make is "all men are created equal and have equal rights no matter what the good or bad effects". You want that to be a first principle. That way you are not down arguing on a utilitarian level. That way you can tell fascists and progs to go fuck themselves with their dreams of Utopia, because even Utopia cant' justify breaking a first principle.

    But without God or a higher authority, why is that a first principle? That is where the argument gets tough because progs and fascists come back and say "but equality is a first principle".

  • db||

    Needing a God to make an argument stick is a particularly bad case of argument from authority.

  • John||

    Unless you plan to argue by effect, which puts you on the level of utilitarians, you are stuck doing that. What other argument is there? It works better? Sure, that is a good argument but it is only effective if it in fact does work better. What happens when it doesn't? You are stuck arguing with the progs against their Utopian dreams. And that sucks. That is really going to their level and letting them beat you with their experience in idiocy.

    We are left with the question of why is it that all men are created equal, endowed with rights, and entitled to equal dignity before the law? It seems to us so obviously true. But it is actually a tougher question to answer than it seems.

  • ||

    "We are left with the question of why is it that all men are created equal...?"

    Perhaps we are approaching this from the wrong angle. Why is one person superior to another? Try making an argument as to why one person is superior to another and you will come up empty handed. The lack of a sound argument( and there isnt one) for that is enough to assert that our equality stems from our humanity.

  • free2booze||

    Why is one person superior to another?

    Without the context of John's statement, this question could easily be answered with "might makes right".

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "our equality stems from our humanity"

    From a scientific perspective, why would one expect the human animal to perceive some special quality within it's species apart from all others? You really think "we are endowed by our Humanity" is a more persuasive substitute? Now why limit it to humans?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Why is one person superior to another?

    Genetic variation. Some people will always have inherently superior skills / abilities to the overwhelming majority. And it has always been the case that people idolize individuals with valued skills & abilities.

    It is a common part of human nature to consider those individuals superior in every way, without God or some other first principle saying that all people have inherent worth and diginity.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Try this then:

    "All men are created equal because it just feels right to me" or

    "Science has proven all mankind to have been created equal" Good luck with that argument.

  • db||

    Requiring someone to believe on faith in a God before they can accept your argument is probably more of a difficulty.

  • John||

    It requires some level of faith in something. It doesn't have to be God. It could be in "first principles". Call it what you like. But at some point you have to start the argument somewhere. And you have to assume something is true, even if it is just "it is better to be alive".

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Requiring someone to believe on faith in a God before they can accept your argument is probably more of a difficulty.

    The majority of humans believe in some type of god, so I'm not seeing the difficulty with that and neither did the people who signed the DoI. Whether you like it or not, it's the premise of the whole document. You are free to disagree with the document.

  • db||

    That is a ridiculous throwing out of the baby with the bath water. My whole point is that the Declaration and the idea of natural rights do not require a religious foundation to be valid.

  • ||

    "...I'm not seeing the difficulty with that and neither did the people who signed the DoI. Whether you like it or not, it's the premise of the whole document."

    They did see difficulty with it and argued extensively about it. Jefferson in particular expressed great consternation about it. They adopted it because they had nothing else. Many of them believed firmly in it, and those that didnt agreed to it by default.

    I think this was a mistake, but at the time it was convincing to the vast majority of people.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    They adopted it because they had nothing else.

    We're all eagerly awaiting your improved version for the next rebellion.

  • John||

    Why is it that someone who is sick, can't take care of themselves, who is a burden on all those around them, of equal value to anyone else? Is that person as valuable as the guy who is out curing cancer?

    I say they are and are entitled to just as much respect. But without appealing to God, that is a hard argument to make. But when you don't make that argument, you end up in a pretty dark place.

  • Rich||

    Why is it that someone who is sick, can't take care of themselves, who is a burden on all those around them, of equal value to anyone else? Is that person as valuable as the guy who is out curing cancer?

    Part of the difficulty here is that "value" is like "intelligence" in that both are, um, multi-dimensional. The sick person can be a cheerful provider of wisdom and the cancer curer a thieving jerk.

    Plus, everyone has "potential".

  • John||

    The difficulty is that to make the argument you have to say every person every life has a value that goes beyond the things they can or cannot do. By virtue of being a human, they have a value that goes well beyond anything our humble abilities could ever accomplish. That is why the sick person is as valuable as the cancer doctor.

    But why is that? Where does that value as a human come from?

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Part of the difficulty here is that "value" is like "intelligence" in that both are, um, multi-dimensional. The sick person can be a cheerful provider of wisdom and the cancer curer a thieving jerk.

    How medical research works these days, whether the cancer curer is a thief or not may be in question, but it's very likely that he's doing his work with stolen money.

  • ||

    "Why is it that someone who is sick, can't take care of themselves, who is a burden on all those around them, of equal value to anyone else? Is that person as valuable as the guy who is out curing cancer?

    I say they are and are entitled to just as much respect."

    Apples and Oranges, but good try. Measuring a person's value as a person is different from measuring their value based on skill. One is measured by compensation, usually in dollars. We dont measure respect or equality before the law in dollars...at least not in principle.

  • John||

    We dont measure respect or equality before the law in dollars...at least not in principle.

    You and I don't. But others do. Why are they wrong and we are right?

  • Calidissident||

    John, what's your point though as it relates to the argument? If two people who believed in God, had this argument, one could just say that they don't believe God made humans equal or all worthy of respect, rights, etc.? How does that resolve the issue in any way?

  • Whahappan?||

    Exactly. Where in the Bible, or in any religious text for that matter, does it say all men are created equal, etc. The Bible treats slavery as A-OK, merely invoking God, or religion, or faith doesn't really get you anywhere.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    It got the Founders somewhere. Yes, even Thomas Jefferson. Right now I'm reading about the heavy Protestant influence on the Revolution (and don't forget the Catholic Carroll family in Maryland, where Catholic emancipation and the Revolution just happened to coincide).

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’"

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all and in all."

    Colossians 3:11

  • Calidissident||

    You guys do realize that not everyone who believes in God believes in the Judeo-Christian God? And even among Christians, there's obviously disagreement on its meaning. There are plenty of Christians out there who hate blacks, Hispanics, whites, Asians, Jews, Muslims, gays, and whatever other group you can think of. Same goes for atheists and people of other religions. I'm not saying this to hate on Christianity, just saying that John's point isn't resolved by both people believing in a God

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    My slightly related point is that, if you are embarrassed by the Founders' reliance on God (and yes, that includes Thomas Jefferson, the most religiously "liberal" of the lot), then you'll have to return to square one in building a justification for human freedom.

    Can you find theists with an anti-freedom philosophy? Most assuredly - but the Founders weren't among them - they were theistic *and* pro-freedom, and the theism and the freedom were connected in their minds.

    The great influence the Founders (and other religious defenders of human freedom) had is impressive if you view history. We in the US have the advantage of the Founders' heritage. Sacrifice their idea of God-given rights, and who known, the next thing you know we have a government which proclaims that they're the one thing we all have in common, that well-established human rights are obstacles to efficient policy-making, etc.

    Are there bad forms of religion? Of course - the example of Woodrow Wilson shows that!

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    John's point is more philosophical than pragmatic, and I think many people here are talking past him. He is essentially laying out in Kantian fashion that the concept of a Creator is necessary for the formulation of some form of deontological morality as a superior good.

    This does not necessarily require adhering to any religion per se, merely to the concept of a Creator with some minimal level of interest in how its creations interact with one another.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'm not disputing John's points, I'm just taking a different approach.

    The Founders' concept of God-given rights "just happened" to be influential for a long time (it may be dying out today). Is that a coincidence, or is there something in the idea of God-given rights which reflects reality?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    I'm not disputing John's points, just taking a slightly different approach.

    Why is it that the Founders' concept of God-given rights had such influence (though it's declining today)? Could it be a coincidence, or could it be that their ideas have some connection to reality?

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    [expletive deleted] squirrels.

  • Calidissident||

    IT, I don't think most people here would agree with that either.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    It's not really relevant whether most people agree with something or not if they can't formulate a reasoned objection to the point.

    So far, I have yet to hear any argument for natural rights that doesn't fall into some sort of utilitarianism (usually of the rules-based kind), or that isn't merely an alternate (usually disprovable) form of assertion.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "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..."

  • Calidissident||

    Even if true, the religiously-based notion is by definition a disprovable form of assertion, as you imply. Why is it superior to an "alternate form of assertion?"

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Cribbing from Kant (apologies if I get something wrong here; it's been a while since I read him), there are a couple of reasons why a metaphysical accounting for rights ("God") are in some sense superior to the naturalistic explanations which are given by atheists:

    1) Agnosticism in the Kantian tradition is the notion that God is inherently unknowable due to the characteristic nature of metaphysics and the impossibility of constructing a proof in the metaphysical realm. This in some sense excludes God, angels, and other "supernatural" phenomena from the tools of inquiry that we use in other fields, and (somewhat paradoxically) making such concepts an enduring fixture in human thought.

    2) Arguments from efficacy, overall happiness or some other good subordinates your deontological ethics to whatever you are arguing from, thus preventing your ethical system from being the highest good.

    [cont]

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    3) Arguments from nature or some other "fixed" attribute of human existence are at best assertions based on observed human nature from a limited vantage point, and at worst subject to disprovability given what little we know about the natural world. Very few of these observations are universal such that they can aid in the construction of a moral system that all sentient beings should follow.

    FWIW, I would highly encourage reading Kant if you haven't already. I am a Christian, but I would consider Kantian agnosticism a reasoned position from which to view the world in the absence of an experience with the metaphysical.

  • tarran||

    I would think Hoppe's Argumentation Ethics would fit the bill nicely. It's pretty Descartian, starting from the point that we think and own our bodies and deriving outward from there.

  • db||

    It is difficult because humans are inherently against nature while being an inseparable part of it. The natural order is kill or be killed, eat at another's expense, and use every advantage you have to keep from being something else's food.

    Humans don't want to live that way--we yearn for Eden, as it were.

    So we imagine an ideal and say that that is a god and it is the source of our worldview. Those who misinterpret equality as the ideal will accuse proponents of liberty of desiring a natural state of violence and rapine. Lovers of liberty see the truth that the equalitarians miss: to be equal we must all be cut to the same level and that requires institutional violence. They are willing to excuse such violence or build enough structure around it that it becomes padded and less visible, but the equalitarians still rely on it. It is a requirement of their worldview that there be strongman who can force others to do things and surrender things they would otherwise have no duty to to.

  • John||

    The desire to build utopia on earth is basically man's original sin. And it is the cause of most of his worst excesses. If Utopia is the end, then any means is justified. The Communists honestly thought that 30 million or a 100 million murdered people was a small price to pay for Heaven on earth. And in a sense, they were right. Of course in reality, Heaven wasn't coming and they were just reduced to being murderers. That is the way it always works out. But Man will never be able to resist the temptation.

  • ||

    "But Man will never be able to resist the temptation."

    I will play on those words by saying that the second amendment allows us the means to resist.

  • John||

    We can resist. But there will always be people who think that they can create one. RC has his rules. Let me give you mine.

    The more noble the stated end, the most ghastly the means people will be willing to use to get it.

  • SweatingGin||

    Rothbard makes a good grounding of natural rights in the non-aggression axiom and self-ownership, I think.

    If you don't have self ownership, the other possibilities are absurd (everyone owns everybody else, so of course you need consent from everyone for any action) or aggression (one group owns another).

    The other one that I find clever is Hoppe's argumentation ethics -- by arguing rationally, you prove that you own yourself. If you didn't, who allowed you to make that argument?

    That said, getting progs to accept self-ownership is still tough. I imagine if I do, the next step is they'll argue logic isn't real.

  • ||

    "That said, getting progs to accept self-ownership is still tough."

    Not tough, impossible because they are not making honest arguments. All the clap trap about social contracts is about a contract that no one can read, no one has signed or agreed to and is interpreted by progs as they see fit to suit their needs at the moment.

    In other words it is a thin veil for them owning you. At least Emmanuel was honest ( or stupid ) enough to admit that they believe power flows from the barrel of a rifle.

  • ||

    "But without God or a higher authority, why is that a first principle?"

    I tried to address this already, but I suppose I did it poorly.

    Two points;
    1. The god foundation can easily, and has frequently been turned around as the basis for divine rights of the few.

    2. As a first principle, self ownership is sufficient as a foundation as there is no rational basis for one person to be superior to another. The logical conclusions drawn from self ownership are all of the inalienable rights listed in the BOR, plus many others.
    It is impossible to justify an argument against self ownership that is not some form of coercion, i.e. might makes right.

  • Slammer||

    Well said. Also, using god as a first principle may very well work as a foundation, but it doesn't make the existence of god true.

  • John||

    Why do you "own yourself"? It sounds nice and all. But there are arguments the other way. Man is a social animal. He has obligations to other people and not just government, family and the community.

    You don't see that way. But others do. And it is hardly self evident which side is right. In the end, you are left with faith in an idea rather than faith in God.

  • SweatingGin||

    The key is that the other possibilities involve initiation of aggression (group a owns group b, ie, slavery) or an absurd situation where everyone owns everyone else and no one can act except as a collective (and if they choose representatives for their ownership stake, you're back to the first possibility)

  • ||

    "Man is a social animal. He has obligations to other people and not just government, family and the community."

    To the person who makes this argument I say that if everyone owns everyone else then I have as much authority to say what those obligations are as they do. Thus we are back to everyone being equal or reduced to might makes right.

  • John||

    But that doesn't mean everyone owns everyone else. It means that some people have a stake on some other people. Just because I owe my parents or my wife part of my life and obligations, doesn't mean everyone owns me.

  • SweatingGin||

    Obligation to family/spouse/etc. is important, but I'd argue it's not a necessary factor in deriving a system of rights.

  • John||

    The point is that even if you own yourself, you can still obligate yourself. And when you do that, you don't really own yourself anymore.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Obligating yourself is not the same as others obligating you.

  • sgs||

    John lost and isn't being afforded the opportunity to engage in the stupid fallacies he normally does.

    Nice job guys.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If John lost, so did the Founders, for whom the basis of American freedom *was* God.

    You can either reject the Founders and construct your own atheistic justification of fundamental rights (and judging from the activities of organized atheism, even actual atheists aren't persuaded by this), or you can adopt and build on the Founders' principles in order to defend and extend freedom.

    Which is more likely to work?

  • Calidissident||

    John definitely lost this subargument about obligations. As for the larger argument, first off, the Founders weren't right about everything. Can you make a religious justification of rights? Sure. And even though my belief in natural rights isn't religiously-based, I'll even say that you're probably right that religious-based appeals probably are more effective. Such is the nature of humans. That doesn't mean they're the only possible justification for rights, as John suggests.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    On the plane of pure theory, we can imagine an atheistic defense of human rights. But that's not the American experience, which is built of a theoretical foundation of God-given rights. If you want, try to dismantle that foundation and rebuilt a rights-supportive culture without reference to religion, but here the warning of President Washington seems instructive:

    "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.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    "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?"

    http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18t.....ashing.asp

  • Calidissident||

    Ok, Eddie, but that's not what John is arguing. Save your SoCon arguments for when they're actually relevant. And religion has been a justification for many abridgements of liberty in the US's history as well. Don't whitewash it.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Like I said, I'm not contesting John's points, just making different points. We can certainly construct, in our minds, a vision of an atheist, rights-respecting polity. Most actual atheist polities, unfortunately, are even more oppressive than the sky-daddy-worshipping societies they replaced. I hope you're not trying to whitewash *that.*

    Once you can point to a more-or-less decent free society governed on atheist principles, maybe we could try to construct such a society in this country. But we'd still have to dismantle the God-give-rights ideas on which our free institutions are (or used to be) based. I think we're already beginning the see the fruits of such experimentation. Is it a coincidence that the, shall we say, non-liberty-prioritizing Obama administration has also developed a grudging and limited view of religious liberty?

  • Virginian||

    He's not whitewashing religion at all. He's simply pointing out the undeniable fact that the Founders were men of faith, and that their philosophy of individual rights was firmly based in the belief that God wanted his children to be free. Religion is, in a political sense, a tool. The Salem Witch Trials do not invalidate the Declaration of Independence, any more then the fact that the Nazis used guns means liberty is not preserved by an armed citizenry.

    From a more practical stance, "God wills it!" is historically a lot more effective at rallying people then "It still moves." "Endowed by their creator" just plays better in Peoria then a secular rationale for liberty.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The difference is that the Founders were not just trying to play in Peoria, they *were* Peoria. Yes, even the "Deists" like Jefferson and Adams believed in a God who took sides with those who fought for their rights.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    That's sort of a Straussian take on public religion, but sure.

    More libertarians, regardless of their religious beliefs, should take that lesson to heart. There are after all more of us than there are of you, heh.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    If by "Straussian" you mean "we sophisticates know that there's no God but let's pretend there is in order to get the people to support us," then I disagree. I am one of the Peorians - a Sky-Daddy believer.

    I simply found it annoying that, on July 4, we were conducting a debate on the link between God and freedom without relation to the actual historical experience of this country.

    If a certain belief produces good results in the real world, that tends to *support* the truth of the belief - because we would *expect* a reality-based belief to produce good results in the real world.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Sorry Ed, that was addressed to Virginian. I'm one of those sky-daddy believers (though I was raised Catholic and became agnostic long before that).

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Ah, you beat me to it. Yes, I thought your remarks to Virginian were aimed at me - quite self-centered, I suppose.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    (I realize now that your "Straussian" comment was probably aimed at Virginian)

  • Calidissident||

    Virginian, my point is that all of this isn't really relevant to the arguments people were making against John's argument. No one here said the Founders were atheists.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Speaking only for myself, not for John or Virginian, I'll say that my problem is with the idea that one can reconstruct the Founders' ideas of liberty while contemptuously rejecting the Founders' premises of God-given rights.

    Who are you going to pick as your forbears, if you rule out any Sky-Daddy worshippers? Even Lysander Spooner seems to have been a Deist, meaning there's a greater gap between him and modern secular libertarians than between him and your average Christian.

    Most people here don't count themselves as Ayn Rand acolytes. Who's left?

  • Gordilocks||

    Stefan Molyneux?

  • sgs||

    "The problem is that without a God, it is hard to come up with a source for equality and equal rights."

    No it isn't.

  • Irish||

    "The problem is that without God government, it's hard to build the roads."

    That's literally the exact same type of argument that John is making.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Again, I think y'all are mistaking a *philosophical* argument for a *pragmatic* one. In principle and in practice, there is of course nothing which prevents an atheist from adhering to any moral code, or none at all, for any reason that he or she likes.

    It is, however, exceedingly difficult to establish and defend a universal system of deontological ethics that all sentient beings should follow -- especially one as proscriptive as natural law theory -- without either relying on arguments and premises which more strongly support some version of utilitarianism, or which have no foundation in reason but rather in disprovable assertion.

  • Hawk Spitui||

    Unless they are honest enough to come out and admit that they believe might makes right, which is what it always comes down to with them, in practice if not theory.

    Of course it comes down to that. Absent the might to enforce your claim to your so-called rights, what good are they? You assert you have certain inalienable rights, I assert you don't. Prove you have 'em. Unless you can produce a stone tablet from on high backing you up, it's a purely arbitrary assertion, the validity of which will be determined by who has a bigger army.

    http://unqualified-reservation.....onary.html

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    A right isn't self-enforcing; it is a moral good which it is, for whatever reason, good to enforce if you or someone else has the power to do so. A right overlaps with self-enforcing norms only by coincidence.

    Example: a girl has a right to not be raped. This does not mean that harm necessarily will befall someone who violates that right, but that it is *wrong* to violate that right and that it is *right* for that girl or someone else to resist a person who would violate that right.

    Rights are about "should", not "could".'

  • Hawk Spitui||

    A "moral good" by whose definition? As I said, it's entirely arbitrary. You assert a thing is a moral good or a right, I assert it is not. What is the final authority?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    We can consent to the powers necessary to protect us from force and fraud...

    But they can only punish after the fact. There's little power the state can have to protect us from it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    FIRST!

    Wait, what? I think someone has let freedom ring in lieu of his alarm clock.

  • tarran||

    Jefferson wasn't involved in the writing of the U.S. Constitution; the people writing it saw him as an opponent and made sure he would only find out about the document after the fact.

    It's kind of hard to credit the current government as being one Jefferson authored ...

    On the other hand, much of the fucked up situation in the West falls out of the blatantly unconstitutional Louisiana purchase making the Feds the biggest landowner... Maybe we can credit him for the Feds as supreme overlords that are free of all constraints. ;)

  • ||

    Jefferson was Ambassador to France from 1784 to 1789. It was during the end of this period that the Constitution was written. Like in all aspects of his life, Jefferson wrote many letters to colleagues in the Colonies regarding the Constitution, primarily James Madison, considered the main author of the Constitution and a Jefferson protegee.

    While Jefferson may not have "been involved in the writing of the Constitution" he certainly had input and a great deal of influence on Madison.

  • John||

    People forget how much courage it took to do that. That was Treason. England could have within the law hung every person who signed that. And those guys were wealthy and had lives. They had things to lose. Easy to say in retrospect now that we know who won.

    I think the New Englanders were making a good bet. It was pretty clear that New England was ungovernable. But the rest of the colonies were far from that. The British strategy was to take the mid Atlantic and South and leave New England as a small country that would eventually have to come back to England for protection from the Catholic French and Spanish. And that wasn't a bad bet. It was one that probably should have paid off.

  • ||

    It is easy to see why they would have formulated that strategy, but they did not take the most important factor into account, a factor they did not understand . The nature of the colonists.

    They spread like wildfire and stubbornly resisted being ruled.

    I have made the observation before that particular to the culture here is the propensity to wander off with a rifle, an axe, a mule and family and hack a farm out of the howling wilderness. No other culture does that.

    Napoleon was glad to be rid of the Louisiana territory because it was infested with ungovernable gringos, and mexico lost the texas and the southwest for the same reason.

  • John||

    There were a lot of loyalists in the colonies too. The rebels ran them off to Canada. It was a really ugly war in many ways.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Yep. Canada and the "Canadiens" pre-1776 were overwhelmingly French -- it only became a British-majority territory thanks to the Loyalists who fled the former US Colonies en masse.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    I'm pretty sure the battle of Plains of Abraham had something to do with that too.

  • MJGreen||

    It took less courage than the thousands of colonists who actually fought and died.

    I don't really have a point to make here, it's just that calling them brave because they could have died had they lost is kinda ridiculous, considering few of them were near a battlefield. And, in doing so, they had changed circumstances so that others went to the battlefield and suffered for the choice.

  • sgs||

    You're an idiot.

  • Virginian||

    No, because many of the men who signed the Declaration were men of means, in many cases quite substantial ones. They easily could have made a quite comfortable arrangement with the British crown. Washington himself was one of the wealthiest men in America. He could have easily stayed home on his huge mansion and retained the vast majority of his wealth. The taxes and privations were never going to affect him. But he risked his life in battle alongside the holders of dirt floored cabins because he believed in liberty and independence.

  • MJGreen||

    Good to know, sgs. Thanks for informing me.

  • ||

    "it's just that calling them brave because they could have died had they lost is kinda ridiculous,"

    They also could have died while winning. These were very well known men in their time. The British knew who they were and looked for them. Many participated in the rebellion in various roles. They didn't just sign and then hide out.

    True, for the most part they didn't fight on the front line, but they were very much in danger the entire time.

  • ||

    Since there are no AM Links, I'll ask it here: what are you doing for July 4?

    Also, this

  • Almanian!||

    Packing for the annual trip to the island. Thanks for asking, mate! Hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

  • Brett L||

    Heading to the beach compound to meet up with the parents and (hopefully) play with Pop's new boat. Ooh, got to get my fishin' license. The Grouper Troopers don't play on holiday weekends. Happy random thursday in winter, IFH.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Gonna watch a parade with my 7-year-old, look at pretty girls, probably get rained on, and blow some shit up!

  • tarran||

    Going to see the Boston fireworks with the kids. We're taking the ex. Yay! I'll get to deal with the desperate, frantic assurances to each other that we are truly strong and "OMG HE'S GOT A BACKPACK HELP HELP! POLICE! BACKPACK! BACKPACK! SAVE US FROM THE BACKPACK! BOSTON! FUCK YEA!" bullshit.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Get ready for cavity searches of you and your family....

  • Lord Humungus||

    up at the northern house. The fog is clearing. Time to grill some burgers and drink.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Fuck that, I got me some RIB-EYES for da grilll.....!!! with some taters and ice-cold Tecate Light. arrrrgh. no flag-wavin'.

  • Almanian!||

    I decided not to write anything more in a post about 7/4 except, "Franklin said 'We've given you a republic, if you can keep it. Indeed.'"

    If I were as eloquent as the Napster, I'd have added what he said. Instead, I'll just note, again, that it was a good run while it lasted. But, in the end, we're done in by mankind's apparent hard-wired tendency to authoritah, dominance, subjugation, control, power and generally nastiness.

    Long live the king! Wait, no....

  • John||

    I agree with Franklin. If the government sucks, it is because the American people or a good number of them suck. We are not subject to an occupation by foreign powers. We are doing this to ourselves.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    We are not subject to an occupation by foreign powers.

    You obviously haven't been in our local Walmart on a Sunday morning.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You obviously haven't been in our local Walmart on a Sunday morning.

    Oh noooooooo! Brown people engaging in free trade!!! Noooooooooo!

  • Almanian!||

    Also re: The Judge, I do find it almost impossible to say "It's a free country!" any more. Cause increasingly, it's not.

    Someone was arguing with me about it - I told them to go grow their own food and raise chickens in their yard and start a gun business on the side without asking permission from their betters and then tell me how far they got with that before they were behind fucking bars.

    EVERYTHING is regulated, monitored, restricted. EVERYTHING. Some "free" country. Less fucked than a lot of other places, but hardly "free".

  • Sevo||

    "EVERYTHING is regulated, monitored, restricted. EVERYTHING."

    Been watching the MJ 'legalization' in CO? The population voted to 'legalize' it. As I understand it, the intent was to get the government out of the way of those who wished to smoke dope. The government immediately interpreted the vote as a mandate to regulate it.
    There was less government interference when it was illegal.

  • MJGreen||

    It's not a free country. I think the prudent course of action nowadays is to ask permission first / check to see if what you want to do is legal, rather than assume you won't be harassed for doing something.

  • sarcasmic||

    Without an incentive to get rid of shitty legislation and regulation, then the consequences of shitty rules will beget more shitty rules which will beget more shitty rules until there is no aspect of life that is not governed by rules backed up with violence.

    And here we are, where the federal government dictates how much water you may use to flush your own feces down the toilet within your own house.

  • John||

    Once you decide it is the job of the government to prevent bad consequences and make unlucky people whole, there is no stopping it.

    During the great Mississippi flood of 1927, Coolidge refused to offer federal aid because he said if he did that then they would be offering aid for everything. And he has been proven so right. You start out with "can't we just help these poor people who have been flooded out" and eighty years later you are telling people how they can flush their toilets.

  • Raven Nation||

    One of the things Jefferson came up with post-constitution was that every federal law should come with a 20 year sunset clause. After 20 years, Congress would have to explicitly vote to renew it. Just think how that would affect things.

  • SweatingGin||

    I love sunset clauses, but it strikes me as odd how often they get blindly renewed. It was an amazing shock when the AWB sunset.

    Then I think of the other ones recently, it seems like the violence against women act sunset, but I can't think of much else lately.

    There was a milk price fixing correction to the earlier price fixing that was about to sunset, but that's a patch on a bad law, so I have a hard time seeing it sun setting as a win

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Even if they get automatically renewed the first, second & third time eventually they won't be.

    As it is now, it's just to much trouble for Congress to get rid of completely obsolete laws and agencies.

  • sarcasmic||

    Look at "defense" authorization.

    The constitution explicitly requires that the military can only be funded for two years at a time with the intent of preventing a standing army.

    Didn't exactly work out as planned.

    So sunsets will not work. There needs to be an incentive.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    PATRIOT Act, AUMF, VRA, and all manner of other laws that are mostly rubber stamped back in to action.

  • Lewis H||

    What's a better way for me to honor America today and embrace the True American Spirit?

    Should I fire off my AR-15 into the air at the crowded park, or hand out diabetes-in-a-cup to the neighborhood childrens?

  • db||

    As long as your neighbors are free to tar and feather you and run you out of town on a rail for selling snake oil, yes.

  • Brett L||

    Obviously, you should be drunk as God and and our founders intended.

  • Mike M.||

    No matter how horrible things are, I'm not ready to give up this country just yet. Maybe, just maybe, Rand Paul can start the turnaround.

  • free2booze||

    Pretty much sums up the article

    Today, if you cross the street outside of a crosswalk, get ready to open your mouth for the police.
  • sticks||

    Fuckers j-walk all the time here. Never seen one stopped by cops. Not that cops should. Just saying don't see that here.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Should I fire off my AR-15 into the air at the crowded park

    Only if you're drunk and wearing a blindfold.

    Otherwise, it just wouldn't be sporting.

    Afterward, you can have some blowfish tacos from a food truck, and make your escape via jitney.

  • Brett L||

    Dunphy, saved by his bros.

    Responding to a 911 call, police rescued two unattended animals trapped in a hot car - a small dog and a pot-bellied pig wearing sweatpants.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    ...and then shot them.

  • Lewis H||

    Why the American Empire Was Destined to Collapse

    Author and social critic Morris Berman says the fact that we're a nation of hustlers lies at the root of our decline.

  • John||

    Anyone who uses the term Empire in relation to the US is a fucking moron.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, etc., say hello.

  • John||

    Thanks for proving my point dip shit. All of those places could leave if they wished. That is not an empire.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    That was certainly not always the case. Google Philippine–American War.

    If you want to say the US currently does not act like an Empire, that's one thing, but historically it has at times acted exactly like one.

  • John||

    Acting like one in spots doesn't make it an empire. If the US is an Empire today then so is France. It takes away all of the meaning from the term. Empire has just become a term for "things about US foreign policy I don't like".

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I don't think the US is an empire today, I was just pointing out we have been in the past.

  • sgs||

    And you were wrong.

  • PapayaSF||

    During the modern Imperial Age, the US did a few imperial things, but it was so limited that it's really a stretch to call us an empire, even then.

  • Calidissident||

    So limited? Don't forget that the US did conquer the West from natives and Mexico, and then took over Spain's colonies of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, etc. The US may not have been the British Empire, and it may not have had an Emperor, but I think it's fair to describe it as an empire in those days, given those actions.

  • PapayaSF||

    I think it's a stretch to call the westward expansion imperialism, and we only took over a few of Spain's former colonies.

  • Calidissident||

    "I think it's a stretch to call the westward expansion imperialism"

    Why is that a stretch? A massive area of land was conquered and its native inhabitants reduced to living on reservations or as second class citizens. Seriously, how is that even debatable? Was it not imperialism when the British did the same thing in Canada or Australia? The fact that the US was based on the same continent doesn't change that. Until the Age of Discovery, almost all empires were contiguous and land-based.

    There weren't very many Spanish colonies left to take over in 1898. All of continental Latin America had become independent, as had the Dominican Republic. Cuba was really the only notable Spanish colony that did not become a US territory. After the Spanish-American War, pretty much all Spain had left were a couple small territories in Africa. In any case, there have been many states that are/were considered empires whose possessions were smaller than the US's.

  • PapayaSF||

    I think of an empire as a group of states or nations ruled by an emperor or some other central authority. A simple expansion of territory by one nation isn't really the same thing. England was imperial for Canada and Australia, not for absorbing Wales. Spain was imperial for South America and the Philippines, not for Catalonia.

    But I have a tendency to want to be strict about politically-charged words. Too often terms like empire, fascism, racism, sexism, etc. get used far too loosely, which makes discussion more difficult. So I don't think it's helpful to put the USA in the same category as imperial Spain.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The Athenian and Roman Empires originated with oligarchic-republican governments. The British and Dutch empires were de facto oligarchic republics.

    Empires frequently originated organically with out any centralized driving personality. The Athenian empire morphed out of an alliance, no one planned for the Roman Republic becoming an empire. Likewise the Spanish empire was the accidental creation or entrepreneurial conquerors. The British and Ducth empires began as trade monopolies.

  • Calidissident||

    Yeah, I think the term "empire" is somewhat subjective and not always used completely correctly, but I can't really agree that it's dependent on a specific ruling structure. In the heyday of the British Empire, the monarch was little more than a figurehead.

    "I think of an empire as a group of states or nations ruled by an emperor or some other central authority. A simple expansion of territory by one nation isn't really the same thing. England was imperial for Canada and Australia, not for absorbing Wales. Spain was imperial for South America and the Philippines, not for Catalonia."

    This is confusing. Are/were Wales and Catalonia not states or nations? Although Catalonia isn't really a good example, because it became a part of Spain through a series of dynastic unions (it first became a part of the Kingdom of Aragon, which later merged with the Kingdom of Castile to form the Kingdom of Spain). Was Ireland not an example of British imperialism? Again, what is the fundamental difference here? Prior to the 1500s, it would be absurd to say that an empire had to have overseas territories (which the US had as well). I'm not saying the US was on the same level as the Spanish, or British, or Roman or Mongol Empires. But no one ever said all empires are created equal

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    .....tears for Afrika.....

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Since the end of WWII the US has been a type of empire. Not along Roman or even British lines but also not just another country.

    Just a small example of what I'm referring to is yesterdays episode of forcing Morales jet to land and be searched looking for non-traitor Snowden on a hunch. Can you image anything like that being done to help any country other than the US?

  • John||

    Sure. China, Russia or pretty much any other great power. Being a great power is not the same as being an empire.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    You think that Russia could get France to force down and search the plane of a latin american president?

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    No.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Doubtful that France would do that for the US, even.

    Recall that France evicted US troops and bases from its territory at the height of the Cold War and shortly after the US bailed them out in WWII.

  • Virginian||

    My favorite LBJ story is LBJ ordering Dean Rusk to ask if De Gaulle's orders included the US troops buried in France, the roughly 60,000 of them who watered the soil of France with their blood.

    "Ask him about the cemeteries Dean."
    "Mr. President, that's really not going to help the situation."
    "Goddamnit Dean, you ask that sonuvabitch if all American soldiers includes the ones buried where they fell."

    Dean did as he was bid, and De Gaulle apparently got up and left the meeting.

  • VG Zaytsev||

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    This is the flaw in the entire premise of the American Dream: if we can have it all, it must by definition be at someone else’s expense.

    This is what progressives believe, folks.

    If you see a well-off person, what you're really seeing is the face of someone who stepped on dozens of poorer folk to get to where he's at.

    That is to say, the face of an oppressor who deserves to be stomped into the dust.

    Progs are communists who are too cowardly to do what their forbears did in grabbing rifles and shooting the kulaks and wreckers.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    If Jefferson is weeping it's because there are no slaves to rape in the afterlife. What a terrible example to choose.

  • ||

    Nice bullshit ad hominem.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    There's no way to get around the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner all his life. Other Founders oppose slavery. He had neighbors who found ways to free their slaves. Washington made sure his were eventually freed.
    Jefferson did none of these things.

    One can't imagine a more egregious offense to a libertarian than chattel slavery and Jefferson committed it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Do not judge ideas and concepts on their own merit. No. Judge the person.

    Jefferson was wrong about government and about liberty because he was a bad person.

    Got it.

    Moron.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    At some point a persons actions are so contrary to their ideas they are discredited.

  • sarcasmic||

    Textbook ad hominem.

    Go fallacies!

    Yay!

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Ad hominem? It's not an ad hominem to note that the man talked about freedom and equality while brutally owning other human beings. The man was a fraud.

    There are plenty of Founders who talked the talk and walked the walk on freedom and equality, we should look to them.

  • MoMark||

    "It's not an ad hominem to note that the man...was a fraud."

    ???

  • sarcasmic||

    It's not an ad hominem to note that the man talked about freedom and equality while brutally owning other human beings.

    Yes. Actually. It is. Textbook ad hominem. You are saying that his ideas were shit because of who he was. If someone else who lived a different life had the same ideas, then the ideas would have merit. But because Jefferson owned slaves, those very same ideas that would have merit if the source did not own slaves have no merit because the source owned slaves.

    That is the definition of an ad hominem fallacy.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Noting that someone was a hypocrite and a bad person is not an ad hominem. An ad hominem is when you say "Thomas Jefferson's argument about this or that is wrong because he was a bad person." I'm not saying any of his arguments about anything are wrong based on his despicable acts, I'm saying he was a despicable, slave owning hypocrite and he's not someone we should hold up.

  • Virginian||

    We're not holding up him as a personal moral exemplar, we're holding up his ideas.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Were they "his ideas" if he lived so contrary to them?

    I guess if you want to say you're holding up his writings on ideas he seemed not to believe in that would be OK.

  • sarcasmic||

    Let me get this straight. You're saying that Jefferson was a despicable human being, and for that his ideas should be rejected. But you're not rejecting his ideas because he was a despicable human being. Except that you are.

    Got it.

    Moron.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "and for that his ideas should be rejected"

    I'm curious, when did I say that? Feel free to cut and paste where I did.

    I said that Jefferson was a despicable man who did not live by the words he wrote and therefore should not be held up. If you find I said otherwise please point that out.

  • ||

    I dont need an OK from you, or anyone else about anything.

  • Virginian||

    I guess if you want to say you're holding up his writings on ideas he seemed not to believe in that would be OK.

    Right, and if I use public roads then I'm not a libertarian.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    You're equating driving on the roads to....owning people and living off their forced labor?

    What?

  • ||

    It is not an ad hominem to judge ideas by the character of the person who spoke about them?

    It seems you dont know what an ad hominem is.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Again, I never said his ideas or arguments were wrong because he lived so contrary to them.

    Nothing I said was an ad hominem. Look it up if you'd like.

  • Calidissident||

    You said that sometimes a person's actions are so contrary to their ideas that they are discredited. So yes, that is an ad hominem

  • Whahappan?||

    I believe he meant Jefferson the man is discredited, not his ideas.

  • Virginian||

    Men are complex, and while I do not think "he was a product of his times" is a blanket pardon, I do think it is important to grapple with historical context when we discuss the shortcomings of those who came before us.

    If the tacit acceptance of chattel slavery makes one irredemably evil, then the entirety of the human race is evil, because I doubt any of us in this thread are posting from Saudi Arabia in between liberating the "servant girls" men often keep locked up in closets in between rounds of "service".

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Virginian, there is a vast amount of difference between owning slaves yourself and not going to Saudi Arabia to liberate servant girls. It's mindboggling that I would have to point this out on a libertarian blog.

  • sarcasmic||

    I believe he meant Jefferson the man is discredited, not his ideas.

    What's the difference?

    How is responding to anyone who quotes Jefferson with "He was a despicable human piece of shit" anything but an attack on his ideas because of who he was?

    Yes it is not an explicit ad hominem, but it is an argument against the person nonetheless. To argue otherwise is just pedantic lawyer-speak.

  • RBS||

    To argue otherwise is just pedantic lawyer-speak.

    I'm pretty sure in another thread he mentioned just finishing criminal law, so he's most likely a rising 2L. Which explains a lot.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm pretty sure in another thread he mentioned just finishing criminal law, so he's most likely a rising 2L. Which explains a lot.

    I remember reading somewhere that there are liberal law professors out there who encourage their students to go to libertarian forums and practice their newly learned fallacious argument techniques against those childishly naive liberty lovers for some malicious fun.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I'm glad you realize it's not an 'explicit ad hominem' but some kind of implied ad hominem via inference or something.

    What I replied to directly was the line about "Jefferson weeps." Those are crocodile tears was my point.

  • Calidissident||

    If that's what he meant, it doesn't make sense in context. Read what sarcasmic wrote, which is what he responded to. If he meant what you suggest, then he was ignoring sarcasmic's point

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    The THEY that is discredited is the persons. When persons live so contrary to his ideas those persons are discredited.

    And that's not an ad hominem, it's pointing out the rankest hypocrisy.

    It would be absurd for me to say that Jefferson's words about freedom and equality are discredited because that's the very ideal I'm judging him by!

  • Calidissident||

    Ok, then as I said, your post doesn't really make sense as a reply to sarcasmic, because you totally ignored his point.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    No, because my point in response to him was why in the world would we make Jefferson the example or spokesperson for those ideal? Look at my original post where I use the word "example."

    Look, I'm not trying to dump on our Founding or even the Founders. They did something good in declaring Independence, fighting and winning it and then framing the Constitution. There's a lot in there for libertarians to celebrate.

    But many of them were directly involved in human slavery. They give up their right to be put on a libertian pedestal for that, I'm sorry. Especially when there were so many founders, both in the Northern and Southern colonies who fought for liberty AND were not stained with support for human slavery.

  • Hawk Spitui||

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Bo Cara Esq.

    Esquire.

    Moron.

    Someone needs to read history a little more carefully.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    What part of history am I getting wrong? That he owned other human beings?

    I submit it is you who are for some reason closing your eyes to historical fact.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    No one disputes that fact. What boggles my mind as a student of history is the incapability of people to not discount the fact though they possessed great intellect they were still men of their times. That they owned slaves (something they morally objected to) does NOT detract from what they achieved. They gave your country a chance to fix that evil.

    Sheesh.

    As for slavery itself American leftists are self-absorbed on that front. American slavery is a piss in the bucket of that institution that dates back to ancient times.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "As for slavery itself American leftists are self-absorbed on that front."

    The irony of hearing this on a libertarian discussion site is not lost on everyone I hope. Slavery is THE worst sin to a libertarian.

    "the incapability of people to not discount the fact though they possessed great intellect they were still men of their times"

    It seems you might want to read more history. Many of Jefferson's contemporaries (even his neighbor) freed their slaves and worked hard publicly in opposition to it. Jefferson did not because he liked the benefits of living off the forced labor of others.

  • Virginian||

    It's slightly more complicated then that. Jefferson's utter ineptitude in matters financial made the emancipation of his slaves an impossibility. Other men were able to free slaves in their wills or before because they could afford it. Jefferson literally could not, due to his fiscal foolishness.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    That view has actually been challenged a lot. But let's say it's true: What can we say about a man whose profligacy kept him from acting on his oft-stated principles, and we're not talking about his principle to lose weight or something, we're talking about his principle that it's wrong to own other human beings and live off their forced labor?

    This is not a man we want to hold up.
    Heck, the worst villain in a Rand novel comes off better.

  • Virginian||

    Again, we're not holding up Jefferson the man as a model for emulation, we're holding up his writings.

    The fact that Rousseau was a despicable piece of shit doesn't make his ideas invalid. They're invalid because they're retarded nonsense divorced from reality entirety. They wouldn't be valid if he was a good person, and Jefferson's are not invalid because he was a bad person.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Why would you hold up the writings of a man who lived so contrary to them? And remember, not on some slight matter but on the most fundamental matter in libertarian ethics.

    There were lots of Founders who wrote eloquently about freedom but didn't live like Jefferson did, in complete negation of those words. Let's hold them and their writings up.

    If we dug up Woodrow Wilson's lofty writings on freedom and liberty would you praise him, for his ideas of course, or would you point out the man was a warmongering usurper of liberties and unrepentant segregationist?

  • free2booze||

    Why would you hold up the writings of a man who lived so contrary to them?

    Are you rejecting Jefferson's ideas, or Jefferson?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Jefferson.

    On a day like today where we recognize the step toward freedom and liberty taken with the US declaring independence one should not point to a man like Jefferson who lived his life in contrary to those ideas. There were many Founding Fathers, Declaration Signers and Constitution signers, who vigorously opposed slavery and were not slave owners. Hold them up.

  • Virginian||

    That's a rather simplistic view. Whatever his many many faults, he wrote the Declaration of Independence. I'd argue that document has done more to spread liberty both here and around the world then anything you or I have ever done or ever will do.

    You can recognize both the good and the bad. Hell, you have to when you're talking about human beings. Henry Ford was a raging anti-Semite. But if he had died in childhood, then the Nazis sure as hell would have won because we wouldn't have had the Ford Motor Company to build the tools of war needed to stop him.

  • ||

    You know what Bo, no one here really gives a damn about any of the founding fathers as people. Their ideas and what they built is all that matters.

    Attacking their individual characters does not in any way diminish or invalidate any of their ideas. The left has been using that shitweasel angle for decades. It is just more mendacity from a bunch of shitweasels who have the shitweaseliest shitweasel of all as their king.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    You're picking on one guy and fail to see the big picture. That he didn't manumit doesn't have to necessarily bring down his body of work.

    Like I said, Jefferson was very much a man of his times.

    And I don't get your point on libertarians and slavery. It IS a sin. My point is the left tends to view AMERICAN slavery as a zero-sum incident. It isn't and wasn't and lo and behold they were far from the greatest abusers.

    Fact of history.

  • Virginian||

    Fact of history.

    Indeed. Neanderthal man kept slaves. Slavery predates writing.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Which makes picking on Jefferson all the more absurd.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Neanderthal man kept slaves. Slavery predates writing."

    How does this matter in condemning Jefferson's slavery?

    When Obama undercuts freedom with his mandate do you say "hey, in the past governments were far more oppressive, so no sweat there?"

  • Virginian||

    No dipshit, the one has nothing to do with the other, and I never said it did.

    That comment was in reference to historical ignoramuses who seem to think there wasn't any slavery before 1620 AD in what would become the USA.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Who thinks that? Certainly not me.

    When I condemn Jefferson I don't care that Romans owned slaves. Jefferson owned them and had reason to know better.

    Just like when I condemn Obama I don't say "well, tyrannical government mandates existed in worse forms throughout human history."

  • sgs||

    "and had reason to know better."

    Who has ever owned slaves that hasn't?

  • ||

    An often ignored fact is that there are more chattel slaves in the world today than at any time in history.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Slavery is as misunderstood as the Crusades were - another moment in history the left fucks up royally with.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Jefferson was very much a man of his times"

    I'm not sure what you are arguing here. It's a fact that many in the circles he ran with manumitted and worked publicly to end slavery, and he did not. What were those others, men of our times?

    "AMERICAN slavery as a zero-sum incident"

    What do you mean it was not zero sum? Are you arguing it benefited the slaves?

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    bo, jesus christ.

    I'm talking about how the left views and interprets slavery through their own, myopic prisms. It seems like it begins and ends with American slavery without much thought or consideration for slavery as a HUMAN institution found throughout the course of human civilization.

    It has nothing to do with the ramifications of slavery which is an entirely different issue.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    I think its ironic that the left 'owns' slavery.

    We're libertarians. Slavery is the greatest affront to our beliefs. We're usually rejecting of utilitarian excuses such as "well, Jefferson had to weigh other things he wanted to achieve" or "man is a product of his environment." If anything that's the left's province.

    We should call a spade a spade; a person who owns people and lives off of their forced labor is the worst person on earth.

  • sgs||

    "We should call a spade a spade"

    And in the process, derail a legitimate discussion about libertarian ideas in a quest to smear someone for his personal sins.

    No one is excusing Jefferson. I don't understand why 137 posts from you are required to understand this.

    "If Jefferson is weeping it's because there are no slaves to rape in the afterlife. "

    Explain to me why I would care about your attempts to tell me what discourse is appropriate when you think stupidity like that deserves utterance?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    What's stupid about it? Am I supposed to sugar coat what a slave owner did on a blog, and a post mind you, devoted to preserving liberty?

  • MoMark||

    “We should call a spade a spade; a person who owns people and lives off of their forced labor is the worst person on earth.”

    Bo, it feels like you are enveloping yourself in righteousness. Was slavery a settled issue at that time?

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    This is incredible.

    Do you excuse Woodrow Wilson's segregationist revanchment of segregation because it wasn't a settled issue at that time?

    Of course slavery was a contested issue, that's my point. Many Founders and contemporaries of Jefferson opposed slavery and/or got out of it, he did not. So why in the universe would people who prize liberty and non-aggression over all else hold this man up? Even holding his words up are silly since unlike him there were other leaders at the time who wrote similar things but didn't live such a monsterous life.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    Let's say Judge Napolitano wrote something like this:

    "President Woodrow Wilson wrote “Liberty has never come from the government. The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not the increase of it.” Regrettably, today we have the opposite of what President Wilson spoke of. Today we have a government that alone decides how much wealth we can retain, how much free expression we can exercise, how much privacy we can enjoy. And since the Fourth of July 2012, freedom has been diminished. Somewhere Wilson is weeping."

    If I were to say "Yeah, Wilson's weeping alright, he's weeping because Jim Crow is dead and he's not tossing war dissenters in jail" would there be this much rising to defend his noble words and ideas? I doubt it. We've built up a hagiography about Jefferson when he literally owned human beings and lived off their forced labor his entire adult life. Sheesh.

  • MoMark||

    “If I were to say "Yeah, Wilson's weeping alright, he's weeping because Jim Crow is dead and he's not tossing war dissenters in jail" would there be this much rising to defend his noble words and ideas? I doubt it.”

    If Wilson had advocated limited government in the example you gave:

    “Liberty has never come from the government. The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not the increase of it.”

    And was instrumental in promoting that view and the context of discussion was his advocacy of limited government then yes I would cut him some slack, because that is a great notion, despite his views on segregation. Your hypothetical relies on our current distaste for Wilson.

  • MoMark||

    “Do you excuse Woodrow Wilson's segregationist revanchment of segregation because it wasn't a settled issue at that time?”

    At what point do you hold someone responsible for their views, got it, you think Jefferson should only be condemned. But the problem with that is he was “instrumental” in putting together a system of government that advanced the cause of liberty.

  • Bo Cara Esq.||

    "Your hypothetical relies on our current distaste for Wilson."

    That quote from Wilson is for real. He said things like that quite often. Our current distaste for Wilson lies in the fact that we are no longer willing to overlook what he actually did versus what he said. I submit we should do the same for Jefferson.

    "he was “instrumental” in putting together a system of government that advanced the cause of liberty."

    I'm not sure about that. First, I think if Jefferson hadn't written the Declaration someone else would have and it would have been to the same effect; the idea was pretty prominent among the rebelling colonists. Secondly, Jefferson's hypocrisy actually played a role in thwarting our applying the words of the Declaration to everyone, including black slaves. Check out the Court's opinion in Dred Scott where they argue "of course the declaration can't be read that way, just look at how the author and so many Founders led slave systems." That was a pretty common argument used to undermine the Declaration's text.

  • Virginian||

    First, I think if Jefferson hadn't written the Declaration someone else would have and it would have been to the same effect

    This is, was, and always will be Marxist bullshit, the idea that art or inventions are the result of vast societal forces and that if the guy who actually created something had died, then someone else would have done it.

    Browning invented the 1911, Charles Alderton invented Dr. Pepper, and Thomas fucking Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Men did these things, and they were not the inevitable result of surging historical forces.

  • MoMark||

    Bo Cara Esq.|7.4.13 @ 6:02PM

    “I think if Jefferson hadn't written the Declaration someone else would have and it would have been to the same effect”

    And you want to assume, that absent Jefferson, this second document would have advance liberty to the same degree and would have been embrace equally. In my view, that was a precarious time, and I would not make that assumption. The man was instrumental.

  • Luddite||

    By that logic, it seems to me that not a single person who had - at that or any other time - held slaves, would be seen as a contemptible person.

    Whether they owned slaves, gave slavery up, whatever; they at one time held slaves, which therefore makes them reviled in your mind.

    Or are you saying that if someone previously held slaves, then gave slavery up, they are somehow better than Jefferson? Just curious.

  • Alan||

    In fairness to Jefferson, he did make serious attempts to end slavery, but quit when he realized that he was getting no traction and was losing influence over the issue. So he made the best of a bad situation.

  • cavalier973||

    Slavery is THE worst sin to a libertarian.

    Worse than murder?

  • Arn0||

    "Truth belongs to the man, error to his age. This is why it has been said that, while the misfortune of the age caused his error, the force of his soul made him emerge from the error with glory."

  • Lewis H||

  • John||

    France is awesome. If only it wasn't full of Frenchman.

  • ||

    No shit, but use the correct term; Frogs.

  • sticks||

    Reminds me of my own philosophy.

    The beach is great, except for all the damn sand.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I don't that it'll be better in a few decades when they've been replaced by middle eastern muslims.

  • John||

    It will be much worse. It really pisses me off to see them fuck up one of the great places on earth.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Sounds like California and Californians.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The people that fucked up CA were rust belt and NE immigrants that came here in the 70s & 80s.

    Hopefully, now that the locusts ruined it, they'll move on to FL and TX, and we'll be able to get control of our state back.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    That's why there's a French exodus. My French clients 'escaped' - their term - France for multiple reasons.

    Personally, being bias and all, having visited both France and Italy often, if you 'joie de vivre' is your goal, Italy wins in my book. Maybe even Spain.

    None beat the USA, again, in my view.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Spain or Portugal take the cake in joie de vivre -- or the Ibero-American territories (such as Puerto Rico), though of course I'm biased on that account.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Have you been to Italy?

    Man, from top to bottom.

    They wrote the book on La Dolce Vita. There's a certain scientific perfection to the way they live.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I've been to Rome and Naples, which I did greatly enjoy.

    Would like to visit Venice or Malta.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Big cities are nice - like Florence but it gets even more wild in the towns. Personally, my goal is Spain.

  • Mike M.||

    Define "living better".

  • Calidissident||

    Anecdotes to refute statistics. Great logic the writer is using

  • MJGreen||

    They're not even relevant anecdotes. He's arguing that the French "live better" because they're not greedy, "humorless" Tea Party types. Because they have some businesses that give to charity.

    Huh?

  • Virginian||

    Businesses here give loads to charity. Leftists usually sneer at them as cynical attempts to distract the public from their obvious evil.

    But when a French corporation does it, it's good corporate social responsibility.

  • MJGreen||

    Those are PR expenses taken into account. They still take all the evil profits on top of it.

    A French business (like boutiques in the US) "donates its profits."

  • Calidissident||

    Americans give far more to charity in per capita terms than any other country in the world

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Granted, unemployment is over 10 per cent, the Germans are again running Europe, and François Hollande’s ‘socialist’ government is coming apart at its hypocritical seams.

    Why put socialist in quotes? Hollande belongs to the French socialist party (which predates even Marxist socialism), and is implementing plenty of socialist policy in his role.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Because he's not 'really' a socialist. Everyone knows that socialism is very much popular but you are to never admit you are one.

    Like Obama. His ties to socialist organizations don't make him socialists.

    He's just a shill of corporate America.

    They are no socialists. Don't you get it? That way they can always argue it's never been applied properly despite having multiple kicks at the can.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    For the love of God...

    'doesn't make him socialist.'

    'shill FOR corporate.'

    'there are no socialists.'

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    As for the Germans, France never liked being second fiddle to any of Germany, Britain and USA - and before them Italy; especially in cultural matters.

    So they thump their chests. The Franco-German alliance was one in which a timid Germany weary from its Nazi past and a belligerent nation was trying to get back into the political good graces of Western Europe for its transgressions.

    It never was an equal partnership thing because France was in reality too weak to come close to matching Germany's European power.

    Basically it was a case of the weak controlling the strong in international politics.

  • Sevo||

    So the morning fishwrap isn't all doom and gloom.
    The local city college has been run as a hippy commune for the last 20 years or so; 'continuing' education in 'X-studies', oh, and if you don't pay the tuition, well, don't worry, we're taxpayer-funded!
    The mismanagement is no great surprise; in the dark ages of the '70s, the SF voters changed the make up of the board to 'empower the workers', and 'reflect diversity'; anyone who didn't have access to really good shit could see where that was going to go.
    So last year, it got busted; 'straighten up or lose accreditation'.
    We get updates from the lefty Chron about how they're really going to fix things without, well, really fixing things, 'cause they really, really believe it, man! This goes on and on until today:
    "City College of SF to lose accreditation in 2014"
    Note that "Student and faculty activists, many organized into the Save City College Coalition, reacted with outrage."
    They somehow didn't see this coming. Hey, don't bogart that thing!
    http://www.sfgate.com/educatio.....645783.php
    Yes, as with any government entity they still get another three strikes, but the efforts so far means it'll take way more innings than that.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    I'm sure the pro-war-hippie faculty is in 99% agreement with the ultra-violent Obama infinite-military-intervention agenda -- scarcely a word of protest can be heard. Fuck the creepy antiwar hippies.

  • Sevo||

    "I'm sure the pro-war-hippie faculty is in 99% agreement with the ultra-violent Obama infinite-military-intervention agenda"

    As far as I've found out, they really don't much like it, but you know, he's being forced to do that stuff, 'cause BUUUUSH!
    Just give him another 6 or 8 years and he'll, uh, maybe, uh....

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    Obama has to kill more people and intervene in more places to fix Bushes mess. Duh.

    It's the 'sex to save the friendship' doctrine.

    How stupid are you people?

  • PapayaSF||

    Wow, I was unaware of this. If it happens, I wonder if rents in my neighborhood will go down (or at least stop rising).

  • Len Bias||

    I've been surprised about how even a lot of lefties are not sympathetic to Bart strikers. Some of my liberal friends have been quite harsh towards them on FB. Even on the radio, I've heard otherwise non-political DJs blast them. Maybe there is a bit of sanity remaining (or coming back) to the Bay Area? Probably wishful thinking.

  • PapayaSF||

    Good.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Author and social critic Morris Berman says

    Trolls don't get the Fourth of July off?

  • sarcasmic||

    Just got back from a small town parade. Kid got a bag full of candy and a little flag to wave around.

    Yay USA.

  • John||

    I love shit like that.

  • sarcasmic||

    It was fun. Started with veterans and snare drums. Finished with huge farm combines. In the middle there were fire engines, church floats, old men driving the cars they wished they had in their youth, an ATV club, and more. Dragged the old guy next door with me. In 43 years that he's lived in this town, this was his first time at the parade. In all it was a good morning.

  • John||

    Good for you for draggin the old man along. That is a great thing to do.

  • MoMark||

    Pelosi Hails ObamaCare: It ‘Captures the Spirit of Our Founders’

    Read more: http://newsbusters.org/#ixzz2Y5jpJt1v

  • Sevo||

    "Pelosi Hails ObamaCare: It ‘Captures the Spirit of Our Founders’"

    Yep, passed the constitution so they could see what was in it. Check.

    After they found out what was in it, some political advisor to Washington delayed implementation for a year. Check.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Did it capture the Spirit and lock it up in a dungeon for water-boarding and execution?

  • ||

    Everything out of that horrid, evil bitch's mouth is pure newspeak.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Stalinist cunt Pelosi.
    Stalinist cunt Napolitano (Janet).
    Nazi cunt Clinton (Hitlery).
    Nazi cunts Rice (any one you want).

    Cunt-Daddy-Bitch-master Barack.

    Whip whip slap slap wreck ruin drone bomb kill.

  • ant1sthenes||

    So not only does she sacrifice children, she also conjures and imprisons the souls of the dead?

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Pelosi Hails ObamaCare: It ‘Captures the Spirit of Our Founders’

    Yep, remember how Patrick Henry screamed give me free shit or I'll kill you?

  • Jar jar binks||

    USA USA USA USA USA USA

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Overly patriotic, jar jar. A DHS/DEA/DOJ/FBI/NSA/IRS/CPS SWAT team is ready to bust down your door, shoot your dog and seize your children for that outburst!!!

  • John Galt||

    Thank you, Judge. At least someone gets it.

  • OneSixteenth||

    Great article and great discussion. Thanks.

  • ||

    Interesting discussion. Y'all made some interesting points that I would like to address, but obligations are calling me away. I will get back to this later.

    Teaching the wife to shoot two new guns. A ruger 10-22, which she loves, and a ruger mini-14 which I am rapidly falling in love with.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Got both of those rifles. Love 'em.

    I think the 10-22 is the most fun rifle to shoot there is. If you wanna get her interested in handguns, I'd get her shooting a Mark III. They're easy to shoot and very accurate. It's easy for a beginner to get some shots in the center ring from 7-15 yards. I've found that people (beginners) wanna shoot more when they do well at first and the opposite as well.

    As for the mini-14, it's a joy to shoot. I have an older one (~1985) and it's built to last. Got a wood stock on it, so it doesn't look all assault-y.

    Do you have a scope mounted on your mini-14?

  • Virginian||

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/07/03/59061.htm

    We've lost the Third Amendment now too.

  • ||

    Holy shit. I am speechless.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Way to go, Onion. You had to tempt fate. I hope you assholes are happy now.

  • Virginian||

    It gets worse. They did the breach with pepper balls. Which meant their victim was alive to file suit. So what message do you think the next band of thugs will take if he wins his law suit?

  • MoMark||

    Interesting! Can anyone tell me if the police have the right to force us to leave our homes in an emergency situation?

  • ||

    Yes, I can tell you.

    They do not.

  • ||

    You are wrong. Not unusual on matters of the law (tm).

    Not that it's relevant to this clusterfuck of a case, but in certain emergency situations police can and do.

    Example:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waldo_Canyon_fire

    In that case, orders were made to vacate homes because they were in the path of the Waldo Canyon Fire. Again, not relevant to THIS case, but relevant to the question.

    Police (and acting as proxy for fire) can force you to vacate your home if it is, for example, on fire.

  • ||

    "As the fire spread, police forces issued a mandatory evacuation to residents in the Cedar Heights neighborhood and hikers in the surrounding area.[13]"

    Such orders have, and will hold up in court. Again, relevant to the question, NOT this case, since the guy's home wasn't on fire and he wasn't in imminent danger of being killed.

  • Virginian||

    Why? Seriously, if someone doesn't want to leave their home that's in the path of the wildfire, fuck em. Let them take their chances.

    I can see a case for removing children by force, but if some crusty homesteader wants to take his chances, it's his life and property, not yours.

    Fucking hell, why can't you see how wrong that is?

  • ||

    I'm not opining on what I think the law should be, I am explaining what it is. And like it or not, there is no "right" to go down with the ship.

    Fwiw, I had to kick in a door yesterday to remove a homeowner. She had sent numerous texts to an ex, saying she was going to kill herself and refused to come to the door. In situations like that , we have a right, nay a duty, to make entry and save them from themselves. If she TRULY wanted to commit suicide, the pro-tip is - don't text your ex and tell him that is what you are about to do, and she could have quietly bled out in the bathtub. As it was, we forced entry, and took her from the bathtub, a bleedin' from (relatively) minor cuts to the wrist and yes we disarmed her with neither a taser nor a gun shot, which is why it will not make the paper.

    Again, I am not arguing for or against the community caretaking function and/or the authority of the state to remove homeowners, I can just tell you that AS a matter of law, suthenboy is wrong.

  • Virginian||

    No, Sutenboy was right. Because he said that the police have no right to remove you from your home against your will. They have no right to do that.

    They do though, have the power to do that. It is quite interesting to see how you see the two things as interchangeable.

  • ||

    Suthenboy is wrong. I'm not going to quibble. I offered specific case facts (fire) etc. to show that they can and do do that. Cops have that authoritah. You can argue all day that they shouldn't have that. But they do.

    Feel free to substitute the word "authoritah", since govt. has authoritah, people have rights. Suthenboy was wrong on the law.

  • Virginian||

    That woosh noise was the point flying over your pointed little roid infested head.

  • sgs||

    "Suthenboy is wrong. I'm not going to quibble."

    You just did and totally missed the point in the process.

    Not unusual for you.

  • Ted S.||

    The law is an ass.

    It's only been a generation since the other Harry Truman was able to die in the manner of his own choosing.

  • ||

    Fuck you're stupid Dunphy.

  • Whahappan?||

    Wrong again. Cops and govt. have power, not authority. Words mean something.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    You must allow the police to temporarily evict you so they can loot your house of firearms and valuables in your absence.

    Yes, it has happened.

  • ||

    Yes, many times. Katrina.

  • ||

    Dunphy, he did not ask if they could force you, he asked if they have the right to force us. And dont tell me it is a distinction without a difference. My rifle says different.

  • ||

    Also, dont quote some chickenshit case law as the standard for defining rights. A court giving the cops permission to violate your rights does not make it legal. They are simply colluding in the crime.

    You have a bit of the proggy disease there Dunphy. Rights do not come from the government or pronouncements of legal experts, nor are they defined by them. Either government recognizes your rights or they do not.

    In the case of the woman you mentioned, whether you feel good about saving her from herself or not, you have no right to do so. Please dont start telling me about all the blowjobs you got from court officials for your heroism. I will not go so far as to say what you did was evil, but it was a violation of her rights.

  • ||

    If you are wondering why I am so pissy about this issue it is because I remember what happened after Katrina. I know what happens when the cops think they have the legal right to save people from themselves and take action during emergencies. Fuck that.

  • RBS||

    dunphy also suffers from cop disease. Symptoms include attempting to apply state court decisions across jurisdictions, treating dicta as law and citing old cases without making sure they are still good law.

  • JefNC||

    That is chilling to say the least. Why isn't this story a major headline in the media??? Oh nevermind, we all know why...

  • ||

    I just read some threads from local pages on that subject and several people mentioned that it did not even make the local news when it happened. Most Henderson residents are just now learning about it a year later.

  • ||

    What the fuck? It says a lot about our country today when what should be an open and shut case of egregious police abuse might not result in any damages being awarded to this man.

  • PapayaSF||

    This is darkly amusing because someone was joking recently that the Third was the only amendment that wasn't currently being violated. Now it's a clean sweep!

  • MoMark||

    I am sure most of us wonder what this country will look like 20 years from now. Are we going to drift casually into a socialistic state or will there be a severe depression soon that will radically alter public policy, kill off the constitution, and diminish our lives? Historically we’ve had such consistency in this country it’s hard to imagine a steep decline, but I have this feeling of accelerated gloom that the unexpected is just around the corner.

  • ||

    It is not unexpected or unintended.

    Those that hate america now and want to fundamentally transform it will be severely disappointed in where that road leads. What fuckwits.

  • MoMark||

    “Those that hate america now and want to fundamentally transform it will be severely disappointed…”

    I doubt that they will make the connection that their philosophy and policies were to blame. They will forever scapegoat even while standing in line for bread.

  • ||

    A few days ago I was standing in line to buy bullets at Academy Sporting Goods, where they limit purchases to one box per person.

    The guy in front of me turned around and looked at me. I smiled and said "Hello. How do you like standing in line for your rations?"

    He looked like I had slapped him in the face, was quiet for a few seconds then got mad as hell and started cussing Obama, made a big scene. The store manager had to come calm the guy down.

  • MoMark||

    That made me laugh, and the notion of human dignity came to mind!

  • PapayaSF||

    I have this feeling of accelerated gloom that the unexpected is just around the corner

    I've had that feeling for a couple of years now, about the country and the world. There are too many dominoes lined up and teetering: Federal deficit, artificially low interest rates, money printing, underfunded pensions, choking regulations, Obamacare, increased racial tensions in the US, idiotic leftists in general, Islamic terrorists, Iranian nukes, Egyptian starvation, Sunni/Shiite war. Something unexpected will trigger something else, and a whole bunch of shit happens. It won't be a world war (I hope), but in various ways it feels like 1938.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    The interwar period is a good comparison, but I think it's more like 1932. We could go careening down the abyss, but right now we're just in a hole -- a hole that the US, and other countries in Europe besides, could make their way out of if they summon up the fortitude to do so.

    If not, I'd recommend finding an out-of-the-way place in Latin America as that seems to be one of the few regions that isn't threatening to boil over into war or extreme repression.

  • PapayaSF||

    Maybe that's a better year for the comparison: we're in an economic hole, and busy doing things to make it worse. I chose the later date because Syria seems a bit like the Spanish Civil War, but on reflection it was nearly over by then.

  • MoMark||

    I think I am even more depressed!

  • PapayaSF||

    Glad to be of help!

  • ||

    Happy 4th of July!!!!!! I am immensely proud of our great nation, despite all its warts and fuckupedness on all sorts of matters. And thankfully we have org's like ACLU, FIRE, etc. fighting to hold back the tide of fuckupedness.

  • MoMark||

    “I am immensely proud of our great nation…”

    Good for you, but I can no longer say that.

    Except for what little inertia of capitalism and vestiges of liberty we still retain, the war of ideas has been lost and we now have an unadulterated socialist in the Whitehouse killing at will and making stuff up as he goes along. I can only say I am proud to be a libertarian.

  • timbo||

    The movement should simply be the capitalist movement. No sugarcoating or appealing to social whims. Free markets above all else; at least then there will be wealth creation, which can be used to help other things.

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    dunphy, the NSA, DHS, TSA, DEA, the war on drugs and the war on terror among other things have irredeemably fucked things up. Until all of that is completely dismantled and defunded, we're fucked, swiftly or slowly. These agencies and programs are not merely warts, they are metastatic cancers.

    Defund leviathan.

  • Luddite||

    "Defund leviathan."

    Hear hear!

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    Unpatriotic KOSMOTARIUNZZZZZ!!!11!one11!!

  • ||

    "we now know that the federal government has the ability to read all of our texts and emails and listen to all of our telephone calls -- mobile and landline"

    Yeah, because before nobody has heard of ECHELON or so much as suspected that government would tap data and voice lines as they entered every damn country in the world. Stop acting like this is news, it isn't. Beyond the sexy name of "prism" none of this is news. The NSA spies on us, who woulda guessed?

    I'll tell you what was news: the i.p. addresses of where they were spying and which Chinese institutions they where hacking into. I'm sure one less-than-freedom-loving government was very pleased to receive that information.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Heh. If ECHELON was public knowledge among American citizens, moreso the fact that we spy on Chinese institutions -- especially among Chinese counterintelligence units who are paid to know such things.

    Perhaps you can provide a reason for why the NSA needs to cast such a wide net in its surveillance with so little oversight, given the lack of success with "wide net" measures in almost every other aspect of security.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Before I leave for my 4th of July Barbecue, let me link to a few American songs.

    Tom Petty, American Girl

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WBWov6nd6E

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    JC Mellencamp, R O C K in the USA:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dO_QKwtko4

  • Eduard van Haalen||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Runaways, American Nights

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TixNXWFREvk

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Toby Keith, Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WMBhMTVfV0

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Julia Ward Howe, Battle Hymn of the Republic

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpZ3jPMM5Ac

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Marine Hymn (with bagpipes)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycCucQwQBKk

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Lee Greenwood, God Bless the USA

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q65KZIqay4E

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Metallica, Don't Tread on Me

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db1s-eV-Bd0

  • Eduard van Haalen||

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    America (from West Side Story)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPlcE3GcoFc

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Beastie Boys - An Open Letter to NYC

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klPfLWTP9tc

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Lady Gaga does the National Antham

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kdd6JzJgJGY

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Ray Charles does American the Beautiful

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRUjr8EVgBg

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    The Beastie Boys, Paul Revere

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cCEZfCh7bEs

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sweet Home Alabama

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzbdY_rPtjw

  • Robert||

    I'll see if I can send some of my homemade rockets over his house from Ralph's this weekend.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    john philip sousa stars and stripes forever

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-7XWhyvIpE

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    John Philip Sousa, The Liberty Bell March

    (If you've heard this tune in *any other context,* please erase the memory from your mind. Thank you.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6Dd0EaEbqg

  • Alan||

    Not celebrating the 4th this year. No point.

  • ||

    Happy 4th of July: the day we pretend we are free.

  • icemaker||

    Our rights come from our humanity -- from within us -- and not from the government.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Everyone seems kind of down. Why not some cheering words from everyone's favorite Deist:

    "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

    http://www.ushistory.org/paine/crisis/c-01.htm

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    A slightly different phrasing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep-xgd_eETE

  • richarddozier@gmail.com||

    Hey, I love your work Judge Andrew but, is anyone at Reason fact-checking assertions like this: "...use a drone to kill two Americans in Yemen, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy. He did so because the boy's father, who was with him at the time of the murders...".

    Well, no, he wasn't! They were NOT together when they were both "Predator'ed" - by separate Predator attacks - either in space or time. There is not even any evidence to support the idea that young Awlaki had even SEEN his father before the father was blown to smithereens having not seen him in years. He had been on a mission to FIND his father at the time he was, himself, killed by the C.I.A. for reasons it chooses to remain entirely silent upon other than criticizing the boy for his choice in fathers.

    So really, that's even worse: he wasn't even ACCOMPANYING his father, either physically or 'terroristically'.

    Also, sorry to quibble but, I believe we are still in the debate phase of whether the U.S. government was able to "listen" in on the conversations of absolutely everyone as opposed to 'mining' the "metadata". Hey, I think they probably ARE listening in and not just rifling through the equivalent of who-called-whom telephone bill type info but, at this point, it is more correct to NOT allege this quite so unequivocally. It only hurts your own credibility and, given the importance of your message, that would be a shame.

  • icemaker||

    Your site is good Actually, I have seen your post and that was very informative and very entertaining for me. Thanks for posting Really Such Things. I should recommend your site to my friends. Cheers.

  • ||

    The President actually has LESS authority to extra-judicially execute someone than a private citizen does. When a private citizen does it, it is premeditated murder -- When a public official does it, it is not just murder but also a violation of constitutional rights (18 USC 241 & 242).

    If a death occurs in the course of a violation of either of those laws, it is a capital crime.

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  • myaskyler9||

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  • DenverJay||

    The "problem" with the Constitution and the BOR is human nature. The USSR had a great constitution on paper, it just wasn't followed. The only thing keeping ANY government in check is the people. Once the majority stopped caring enough to protect their rights, the Republic began to wither and die. You can blame liberals, conservatives, public education, the Supremes, or Elvis. It still comes down to "you get the government you deserve". Who was it who, when asked what kind of government the Founding Fathers had created, replied "A republic, ma'am, if you can keep it"? Ah yes, my favorite drinking, whoring, and thinking renaissance man, Mr. Benjamin Franklin.
    Just read some history about when Rome changed from a Republic to an Imperium; the parallels are striking. Hopefully we can at least avoid the civil wars this time, although it would be amusing to watch Holder assassinate Obama and go to war against the Clintons, while Bill retreats to Great Britain, falls in love with Kate Middleton, takes over England, detains Kate, then parades her through the streets as he marches through D.C. in triumph...

  • timbo||

    well said.
    The overriding enemy of freedom and wealth creation is complacency. We forgot to educate our children about history and the masses became wealthy enough to not care how it came about. Capitalism is finished.

  • Solidus||

    Andrew P. Napolitano is a modern Day Frédéric Bastiat pleading with a people and a federal government to pay attention. The difference between them is that Bastiat was pleading with a French government and its people in the process of forming while Napolitano is pleading with a people and government who were given the gift of Natural Law and are squandering it through ignorance and fear. Attempting to regain freedom lost comes with a high price. Our Founders gave us foundation whereby each could achieve a potential for exceptionalism. As a people we must now have the rough and tough discourse and dialog to return to a basis wherein laws are built to protect peoples' natural rights to liberty, property and life. And that dialog must be free from the trappings of political correctness. http://coldwarwarrior.com/

  • timbo||

    Can you imagine the men that they were? They were prepared to give up their fortunes and face certain death for the acquisition of freedom. It is going to take several years and much rioting in this country and even then, the rich will be smart not to intervene. The class warfare scheme will prove to be far too powerful for the rioters to side with the smart, freedom loving capitalists.

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