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[VIDEO] Happy Birthday Thomas Jefferson: Ken Burns’ America Thomas Jefferson Documentary

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Our Cult-Like Education System: Stella Morabito on the Ideological Cold War

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Riot-Prone Mobs Are A Product Of America’s Cult-Like Education System

‘If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.’

— Thomas Jefferson

 writes

…Those who are pushing for sustained street resistance seem to be banking on two things. First they are betting that mainstream Americans won’t realize until it’s too late that we are in the midst of a virtual civil war that could turn violent. Dennis Prager recently wrote of this Second Civil War, warning Americans to wake up to it. Second, agitators are also wagering that Americans will not have the stomach for the prolonged fight they intend to bring to the streets, a point noted by psychologist Tim Daughtry in his book “Waking the Sleeping Giant.”

“What brought us to this place where the losing side has so utterly and violently rejected the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, and previously agreed-upon electoral process and rules?”

So is this some kind of a joke? Revolution in the streets of America that overturns the election results? So far it all sounds so goofy, at least where it doesn’t get violent. We can watch in wonder as a shrieking NYU professor verbally assaults numerous police officers with the sort of impunity only afforded to the far-left. We can assure ourselves that there aren’t that many irrational people. Even if true, however, that’s beside the point. Too many citizens are at sea in understanding what freedom even means.

“Let’s face it. Today’s street theater is the culmination of decades of radical education revision. The radical Left’s systematic attack on the study of Western Civilization has essentially been an attack against the study of any and all civil societies. It is an attack on the features that make a society civil and free.”

We need to ask ourselves: What brought us to this place where the losing side has so utterly and violently rejected the peaceful transfer of power from one president to another, and previously agreed-upon electoral process and rules? It’s past time to ponder the quote from Thomas Jefferson: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

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Destroying Our Education System Got Us Here

Let’s face it. Today’s street theater is the culmination of decades of radical education revision. The radical Left’s systematic attack on the study of Western Civilization has essentially been an attack against the study of any and all civil societies. It is an attack on the features that make a society civil and free. Those features include freedom of expression, civil discourse, the Socratic method of figuring out truth, value of the individual, and a common knowledge of the classics of history and literature that help us understand what’s universal in the human experience. All of that had to go.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Now, as we see students marching to demonize as “fascists” proponents of free speech, their ignorance is in full view. This is really a full frontal attack on the rule of law, the Constitution, and a system of checks and balances that guards against the consolidation of centralized power.

That’s the whole point of the education these students have been fed. In fact, a lot of 1960s agitators, including domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, decided to place their bets on radical education revision. For at least 40 years, Ayers has been devoted to transforming schools from places of actual education to places of coercive thought reform. As Andrew McCarthy recently pointed out in National Review: “It was a comfy fit for him and many of his confederates, once it dawned on them that indoctrination inside the schoolhouse was more effective than blowing up the schoolhouse.”

If you review the history of radical education reform, it’s clear these agitators have been committing mind arson on the children, undermining their ability to think independently and clearly. (For more on this, read Robin Eubanks’ book “Credentialed to Destroy.”)

Demotivated students sitting in a lecture hall with one girl napping in college

How to Short-Circuit a Child’s Thinking

Radical education reformers have made a point of removing context from children’s education, and to squash their natural curiosity, undermining their capacity to think. Read the rest of this entry »


Most College Students Think America Invented Slavery

‘They are convinced that slavery was an American problem.’

Kate Hardiman – University of Notre Dame: For 11 years, Professor Duke Pesta gave quizzes to his students at the beginning of the school year to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.

“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America. They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.”

The most surprising result from his 11-year experiment? Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, he said.

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“They cannot tell you many historical facts or relate anything meaningful about historical biographies, but they are, however, stridently vocal about the corrupt nature of the Republic, about the wickedness of the founding fathers, and about the evils of free markets.”

“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America,” Pesta told The College Fix. “They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.”

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“Most alarmingly, they know nothing about the fraught history of Marxist ideology and communist governments over the last century, but often reductively define socialism as ‘fairness.’”

— Professor Duke Pesta

Pesta, currently an associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, has taught the gamut of Western literature—from the Classics to the modern—at seven different universities, ranging from large research institutions to small liberal arts colleges to branch campuses. He said he has given the quizzes to students at Purdue University, University of Tennessee Martin, Ursinus College, Oklahoma State University, and University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

[Read the full story here, at The College Fix]

The origin of these quizzes, which Pesta calls “cultural literacy markers,” was his increasing discomfort with gaps in his students’ foundational knowledge.

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“They came to college without the basic rudiments of American history or Western culture and their reading level was pretty low,” Pesta told The Fix.

[MORE: Black studies prof says slavery ‘white people thing’]

Before even distributing the syllabus for his courses, Pesta administered his short quizzes with basic questions about American history, economics and Western culture. For instance, the questions asked students to circle which of three historical figures was a president of the United States, or to name three slave-holding countries over the last 2,000 years, or define “capitalism” and “socialism” in one sentence each.

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[MORE — In defense of Prof. Saida Grundy: There’s a good chance she never learned black people owned slaves]

Often, more students connected Thomas Jefferson to slavery than could identify him as president, according to Pesta. On one quiz, 29 out of 32 students responding knew that Jefferson owned slaves, but only three out of the 32 correctly identified him as president. Interestingly, more students— six of 32—actually believed Ben Franklin had been president. Read the rest of this entry »


[BOOKS] David Harsanyi’s ‘The People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy’

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Democracy may be one of the most admired ideas ever concocted, but what if it’s also one of the most harebrained? After many years of writing about democracy for a living, David Harsanyi has concluded that it’s the most overrated, overused, and 51SYk6is6ZL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_misunderstood idea in political life. The less we have of it the better.

[Order David Harsanyi’s bookThe People Have Spoken (and They Are Wrong): The Case Against Democracy” from Amazon.com]

“Democracy” is not synonymous with “freedom.” It is not the opposite of tyranny. In fact, the Founding Fathers knew that democracy can lead to tyranny. That’s why they built so many safeguards against it into the Constitution.

Democracy, Harsanyi argues, has made our government irrational, irresponsible, and invasive. It has left the American people with only two options—domination by the majority or a government that can’t possibly work. The modern age has imbued democracy with the mystique of infallibility. But Harsanyi reminds us that the vast majority of political philosophers, including the founders, have thought that responsible, limited government based on direct majority rule over a large, let alone continental scale was a practical impossibility.

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In The People Have Spoken, you’ll learn:

  • Why the Framers of our Constitution were intent on establishing a republic, not a “democracy”
  • How democracy undermines self-government
  • How shockingly out of touch with reality most voters really are
  • Why democracy is an economic wrecking ball—and an invitation to a politics of envy and corruption
  • How the great political philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Burke and Tocqueville predicted with uncanny accuracy that democracy could lead to tyranny

Harsanyi warns that if we don’t recover the Founders’ republican vision, “democracy” might very well spell the end of American liberty and prosperity.


[VIDEO] Drunk History: John Adams vs. Thomas Jefferson


[VIDEO] REWIND 2006: Christopher Hitchens on Thomas Jefferson


[VIDEO] Norman Lear: Donald Trump is America’s ‘Middle Finger’ to Establishment 

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Daniel Nussbaum writes:

…In an interview with Jeanne Wolf’s Hollywood blog, Lear told Wolf that it was “interesting” that she compared Trump to his character Archie Bunker from the hit 70s TV show All in the Family….

“I want to believe that the American people are holding up Donald Trump as they might their middle finger and they’re giving the middle finger to the establishment, to all of us – left and right – because they are badly served by the establishment…”

“At least he’s shaken up the conversation. He’s made everybody stop talking and stop accepting the idea that they can talk in these canned messages, yes?” Wolf pressed.

“…We are a culture of excess. That’s our biggest product: excess. In everything. He is excessively assholian. I think the American people understand that and this is their way of saying, ‘This is how you’re taking care of us? You leaders? Take this.’ Then they give us Donald Trump.”

—  Television producer Norman Lear

…At the Television Critics Association press tour in August, the 93-year-old creator of hit shows like The Jeffersons and Good Times told reporters that he thinks of himself as a “bleeding-heart conservative,” despite decades of advocacy for progressive causes. Read the rest of this entry »


#Unfollowed: King George III

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King George III (1738-1820), Reigned 1760-1820


Cameron McWhirter: To Quote Thomas Jefferson, ‘I Never Actually Said That’

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Librarian Tracks Sayings Misattributed to Founding Father; ‘A Fine Spiced Pickle’

Cameron McWhirter writes: Thomas Jefferson once famously wrote, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”

[Also see Aldous Huxley and the Mendacious Memes of the Internet Age at National Review Online, by Charles C.W. Cooke]

Or did he? Numerous social movements attribute the quote to him. “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to U.S. Government and Politics” cites it in a discussion of American democracy. Actor Chuck Norris‘s 2010 treatise “Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America” uses it to urge conservatives to OB-VP466_BADQUO_BV_20121207000400become more involved in politics. It is even on T-shirts and decals.

“On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”

–Never said by Thomas Jefferson

Yet the founding father and third U.S. president never wrote it or said it, insists Anna Berkes, a 33-year-old research librarian at the Jefferson Library at Monticello, his grand estate just outside Charlottesville, Va. Nor does he have any connection to many of the “Jeffersonian” quotes that politicians on both sides of the aisle have slung back and forth in recent years, she says.

“Winston Churchill had so many sayings misattributed to him that one academic gave the phenomenon a name: ‘Churchillian drift.'”

“People will see a quote and it appeals to an opinion that they have and if it has Jefferson’s name attached to it that gives it more weight,” she says. “He’s constantly being invoked by people when they are making arguments about politics and actually all sorts of topics.”

A spokeswoman for the Guide’s publisher said it was looking into the quote. Mr. Norris’s publicist didn’t respond to requests for comment.

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The Thomas Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. A website lists bogus quotes attributed to the founding father. Bloomberg News

To counter what she calls rampant misattribution, Ms. Berkes is fighting the Internet with the Internet. She has set up a “Spurious Quotations” page on the Monticello website listing bogus quotes attributed to the founding father, a prolific writer and rhetorician who was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence.

“It’s a hopeless task. You would need an army of secretaries to reply to all these tweets. Twitter and Facebook have made it worse, because people glom onto these things and pass it on and there it goes.”

The fake quotes posted and dissected on Monticello.org include “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government has grown out of too much government.” In detailed footnotes, Ms. Berkes says it resembles a line Jefferson wrote in an 1807 letter: “History, in general, only informs us what 51BF9zMLqjL._SL250_bad government is.” But she can’t find that exact quotation in any of his writings.

[Check out Chuck’s bookBlack Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America” at Amazon.com]

Another that graces many epicurean websites: “On a hot day in Virginia, I know nothing more comforting than a fine spiced pickle, brought up trout-like from the sparkling depths of the aromatic jar below the stairs of Aunt Sally’s cellar.”

Jefferson never said that either, says Ms. Berkes. The earliest reference to the quote comes from a 1922 speech by a man extolling the benefits of pickles, she says.

“People will see a quote and it appeals to an opinion that they have and if it has Jefferson’s name attached to it that gives it more weight. He’s constantly being invoked by people when they are making arguments about politics and actually all sorts of topics.”

Jefferson is a “flypaper figure,” like Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and baseball player and manager Yogi Berra—larger-than-life figures who have fake or misattributed quotes stick to them all the time, says Ralph Keyes, an author of books about quotes wrongly credited to famous or historical figures. Read the rest of this entry »


Barack Obama, Re-Founding Father

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It isn’t just ‘Obama’s power grabs.’ It’s a redesign of the Founders’ original vision

renocol_DanHenningerDaniel Henninger writes: To the list of questions Hillary Clinton will never answer, add one more: Would a second Clinton presidency continue and expand Barack Obama’s revision of the American system of government that existed from 1789 until 2009?

The central feature of Mr. Obama’s rewrite of what one might call the Founding Fathers’ original vision has been to abolish Congress. Yes, the 535 men and women elected to Congress still show up at the old Capitol building, as they have since November 1800.

“If you put the president behind the wheel of a car in front of the White House to visit Congress, he’d probably get lost.”

But once past passage of ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, the 44th president effectively retired Congress from its historic function. If you put the president behind the wheel of a car in front of the White House to visit Congress, he’d probably get lost.

This is not a joke if you are one of the many million Americans the Re-Founding Father has commanded, via vast executive power, to do what he wants you to do. He did it again last week.

“This is not the Democratic Party of Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, Jimmy Carter or even Bill Clinton. It is the progressive left wing, which won party control by defeating the Clinton machine in 2008. As a matter of ideology, it is ‘impatient’ with the pace of change possible under the pre-2009 system of checks and balances.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, whose neo-constitutional function is to serve as a primary executor of Mr. Obama’s re-dos, waved into existence a massive expansion of the Clean Water Act. Landowners across America woke up to discover that the EPA has designated ponds, creeks, rivulets, ditches, catch basins and water-filled potholes as subject to what the Clean Water Act originally called “navigable waters.”

From somewhere on Capitol Hill, a plaintive Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat North Dakota’s voters bothered to elect in 2012, said: “It’s frustrating that after so much time, the EPA today decided to finalize this rule instead of . . . releasing a revised rule as our legislation would require.” Legislation?

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“With Congress rendered moribund, the new branch of the American political system is the federal enforcement bureaucracy.”

Conservatives by now are numb to Mr. Obama’s expansions of executive power. They call it an “abuse” of authority, and no doubt it is. “Abuse,” however, makes it sound like the whim of one politician, a Huey Long-like convulsion. This isn’t a one-off. This is how the modern Democratic Party governs. It is how a Clinton presidency would govern every day of the week.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

This is not the Democratic Party of Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey,Jimmy Carter or even Bill Clinton. It is the progressive left wing, which won party control by defeating the Clinton machine in 2008. As a matter of ideology, it is “impatient” with the pace of change possible under the pre-2009 system of checks and balances. Former law professor Elizabeth Warren could teach seminars on the progressive Re-Founding of America.

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“Former law professor Elizabeth Warren could teach seminars on the progressive Re-Founding of America.”

Barack Obama, channeling decades of theory, says constantly that the traditional system has failed. He said it in his 2011 Osawatomie, Kan., speech: “It doesn’t work. It has never worked.” He has attacked Congress repeatedly as a failed institution, teeing it up for mass revulsion just as he did the 1%.

“This is not a joke if you are one of the many million Americans the Re-Founding Father has commanded, via vast executive power, to do what he wants you to do. He did it again last week…Landowners across America woke up to discover that the EPA has designated ponds, creeks, rivulets, ditches, catch basins and water-filled potholes as subject to what the Clean Water Act originally called ‘navigable waters.'”

With Congress rendered moribund, the new branch of the American political system is the federal enforcement bureaucracy. Read the rest of this entry »


FREEDOM OF THOUGHT: Religious Freedom More Important Founding Achievement than Being President of the United States

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 “Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness…”

From Monticello.org

Before his death, Thomas Jefferson left explicit instructions regarding the monument to be erected over his grave.  In this document (undated), Jefferson supplied a sketch of the shape of the marker, and the epitaph with which he wanted it to be inscribed:

“…on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more:

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Here was buried

Thomas Jefferson

Author of the Declaration of American Independence

of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom

& Father of the University of Virginia

editor-commen-deskWhat’s missing here? Jefferson declined to include, among his most treasured achievements, his own ascent to the highest office in the land. Thomas Jefferson was elected twice, served two terms as president of the United States. Why did Jefferson consider his own presidency to be unimportant, or not important enough to include in his list of achievements? Much as been written about this, including by Jefferson himself, but my own summary is this: A free people govern themselves. A self-governing society doesn’t celebrate its leaders, or rulers, it celebrates its own freedom.

The most important of these freedoms being freedom of thought. Freedom to think, or not think, whatever the hell you want. To worship, or not worship, whatever deity you want, it’s your business. The freedom to subscribe to–or reject–whatever philosophy you want. The freedom to participate, or refrain from participating in, whatever way of life you chose. An individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination. And has the inherent (not state-given) freedom to not be compelled by another to do otherwise.

Without this, the “habits of hypocrisy and meanness” undermine pluralism, and threaten the foundations of the civil society that his generation fought so hard to build.

Do Jefferson’s successors understand this?

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From VAHistorical.org:

Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826) was prevented by illness from attending the Virginia Convention of 1774 that met to discuss what to do in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party and the closing of the port of Boston by the British. But Jefferson sent a paper to the convention, later published as A Summary View of the Rights of British America. The force of its arguments and its literary quality led the Convention to elect Jefferson to serve in the Continental Congress.

He was too anti-British to be made use of until a total break with Great Britain had become inevitable. Then he was entrusted with drafting the Declaration of Independence. This assignment, and what he made of it, ensured Jefferson’s place as an apostle of liberty. In the Declaration, and in his other writings, Jefferson was perhaps the best spokesman we have had for the American ideals of liberty, equality, faith in education, and in the wisdom of the common man. But what Jefferson wanted to be remembered for, besides writing the Declaration of Independence, was writing the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and founding the University of Virginia.

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Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom

(annotated transcript)

The Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom is a statement about both freedom of conscience and the principle of separation of church and state. Written by Thomas Jefferson and passed by the Virginia General Assembly on January 16, 1786, it is the forerunner of the first amendment protections for religious freedom. Divided into three paragraphs, the statute is rooted in Jefferson’s philosophy. It could be passed in Virginia because Dissenting sects there (particularly Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists) had petitioned strongly during the preceding decade for religious liberty, including the separation of church and state.

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Jefferson had argued in the Declaration of Independence that “the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle [man]….” The first paragraph of the religious statute proclaims one of those entitlements, freedom of thought. To Jefferson, “Nature’s God,” who is undeniably visible in the workings of the universe, gives man the freedom to choose his religious beliefs. This is the divinity whom deists of the time accepted—a God who created the world and is the final judge of man, but who does not intervene in the affairs of man. This God who gives man the freedom to believe or not to believe is also the God of the Christian sects.

I. Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishment or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was his Almighty power to do . . .

The second paragraph is the act itself, which states that no person can be compelled to attend any church or support it with his taxes. It says that an individual is free to worship as he pleases with no discrimination. Read the rest of this entry »


David Boaz: Things to Be Thankful For

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David Boazblog_rev4 writes: Not long ago a journalist asked me what freedoms we take for granted in America. Now, I spend most of my time sounding the alarm about the freedoms we’re losing. But this was a good opportunity to step back and consider how America is different from much of world history — and why immigrants still flock here.

If we ask how life in the United States is different from life in most of the history of the world — and still  different from much of the world — a few key elements come to mind.liberty

[Check out David Boaz‘s book “The Politics of Freedom: Taking on The Left, The Right and Threats to Our Liberties” at Amazon]

Rule of law. Perhaps the greatest achievement in history is the subordination of power to law. That is, in modern America we have created structures that limit and control the arbitrary power of government. No longer can one man — a king, a priest, a communist party boss — take another person’s life or property at the ruler’s whim. Citizens can go about their business, generally confident that they won’t be dragged off the streets to disappear forever, and confident that their hard-earned property won’t be confiscated without warning. We may take the rule of law for granted, but immigrants from China, Haiti, Syria, and other parts of the world know how rare it is.

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Equality. For most of history people were firmly assigned to a particular status — clergy, nobility, and peasants. Kings and lords and serfs. Brahmans, other castes, and untouchables in India. If your father was a noble or a peasant, so would you be. The American Revolution swept away such distinctions. In America all men were created equal. Thomas Jefferson declared “that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God.” In America some people may be smarter, richer, stronger, or more beautiful than others, but “I’m as good as you” is our national creed. We are all citizens, equal before the law, free to rise as far as our talents will take us.

Equality for women. Throughout much of history women were the property of their fathers or their husbands. They were often barred from owning property, testifying in court, signing contracts, or participating in government. Equality for women took longer than equality for men, but today in America and other civilized parts of the world women have the same legal rights as men. Read the rest of this entry »


Analysis: What Happens When Police Officers Wear Body Cameras

Use of force by police officers declined 60% in first year since introduction of cameras in Rialto, California

With all eyes on Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the death of Michael Brown, a renewed focus is being put on police jeffbible_jeffersiontransparency. Is the solution body-mounted cameras for police officers?

“Thomas Jefferson once advised that ‘whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.'”

Sometimes, like the moments leading up to when a police officer decides to shoot someone, transparency is an unalloyed good. And especially lately, technology has progressed to a point that it makes this kind of transparency not just possible, but routine.

“One problem with the cameras, however, has been cost.”

So it is in Rialto, Calif., where an entire police force is wearing so-called body-mounted cameras, no bigger than pagers, that record everything that transpires between officers and citizens.

“Unfortunately, one place where expenses can mount is in the storage and management of the data they generate.”

In the first year after the cameras’ introduction, the use of force by officers declined 60%, and citizen complaints against police fell 88%.

It isn’t known how many police departments are making regular use of cameras, though it is being considered as a way of perhaps altering the course of events in places such as Ferguson, Mo., where an officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. Read the rest of this entry »


The 20th Anniversary of the Castro Regime’s ’13 de Marzo’ Tugboat Massacre

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All they wanted was to escape tyranny and slavery and give their children and themselves a chance to live in freedom. For Cuba’s Castro dictatorship, however, such yearning for liberty is a sin against the revolution. In fact, it is a sin so grave and so heinous that it is punishable by death….(read more)

L.A. Liberty


The Sadness of King George

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Iraq: The Cost of Building a Failed State

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“Governments constantly choose between telling lies and fighting wars, with the end result always being the same. One will always lead to the other.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Nobel Laureate George Akerlof uses this edifying quote from Thomas Jefferson to good effect in his foreword of Hossein Askari’s excellent read, Conflicts and Wars: Their Fallout and Prevention (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2012). Indeed, Prof. Akerlof has this to say about Askari’s work:

“Professor Askari begins by surveying the burden of military expenditures and of conflicts and wars. Their dollar expenditures, which are close to 15 percent of global GNP, exceed the cost of our financial crisis, of global warming, and what would be required for worldwide poverty reduction.

….

He bases his approach on three interrelated propositions: aggressors do not pay the full price of their aggression; 412QakzdtIL-1._SL250_governments will do nothing to change this state of affairs on their own; and, as a result, the process of reducing conflicts must originate in the private sector.”

[Check out Hossein Askari’s book Conflicts and Wars: Their Fallout and Prevention” at Amazon.com]

The U.S. shouldered a heavy load in the Iraq War, to the tune of $2.4 trillion from 2003-2011. As depicted in the chart below, the $2.4 trillion U.S. tab accounted for over 75% of global expenditures in the Iraq War…(read more)

Cato @ Liberty


Don’t Know Much About History: Senator Schumer Credits Jefferson for Bill of Rights

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For Washington TimesStephen Dinan reports: Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, stumbled Tuesday over basic American history, crediting Thomas Jefferson for authorship of the Bill of Rights during a debate over the First Amendment and campaign finance.

facepalm-teapot“I think if Thomas Jefferson were looking down, the author of the Bill of Rights, on what’s being proposed here, he’d agree with it. He would agree that the First Amendment cannot be absolute.”

– Harvard graduate, Senator Charles E. Schumer

While Jefferson is deemed the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, he was not intimately involved in the writing of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights, which is the first 10 amendments to that founding document.

Indeed, Jefferson was out of the country, serving as minister to France at the time of both the Constitution convention and the congressional debate over the Bill of Rights. Read the rest of this entry »


This Day in History : Library of Congress Established April 24th, 1800, by President John Adams for $5000

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President John Adams approves legislation to appropriate $5,000 to purchase “such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress,” thus establishing the Library of Congress. The first books, MTE1ODA0OTcxMjc3MzIxNzQxordered from London, arrived in 1801 and were stored in the U.S. Capitol, the library’s first home. The first library catalog, dated April 1802, listed 964 volumes and nine maps. Twelve years later, the British army invaded the city of Washington and burned the Capitol, including the then 3,000-volume Library of Congress.

Former president Thomas Jefferson, who advocated the expansion of the library during his two terms in office, responded to the loss by selling his personal library, the largest and finest in the country, to Congress to “recommence” the library. The purchase of Jefferson’s 6,487 volumes was approved in the next year, and a professional librarian, George Watterston, was hired to replace the House clerks in the administration of the library. In 1851, a second major fire at the library destroyed about two-thirds of its 55,000 volumes, including two-thirds of the Thomas Jefferson library. Congress responded quickly and generously to the disaster, and within a few years a majority of the lost books were replaced. Read the rest of this entry »


Bone-Chilling Threat: FCC Exploring Plans to Place ‘Government Monitors’ in Newsrooms

Obama Big brother

The American Center for Law and Justices Matthew Clark reports: The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.

Peter Doocy reports from Washington, D.C.

John Merry watches President Barack Obama deliver a speech about relations with Syria from McP's Pub, Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Coronado, Calif. Obama said in a nationally televised address Tuesday night that recent diplomatic steps offer "the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons" inside Syria without the use of force, but he also insisted the U.S. military will keep the pressure on President Bashar Assad "and be ready to respond" if other measures fail. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”

As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:

Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

In fact, the FCC is now expanding the bounds of regulatory powers to include newspapers, which it has absolutely no authority over, in its new government monitoring program.

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Finally: Free From ‘Constitution-Lock’

Free at last...free at last...the chains of the constitution must be broken in order for us to be free

Free at last…free at last…the chains of the constitution must be broken in order for us to be free

Obama Frees America From the Tyranny of Law

Charles C. W. Cooke  writes:  ‘That’s the good thing as president,” President Obama half-joked yesterday at Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello, Virginia. “I can do what I want.” And, as if signaling that he had finally transcended all of those antediluvian “I’m not a king/emperor/dictator” reassurances, a few hours later the news broke that he had, once again, done what he wanted — this time delaying part of Obamacare’s employer mandate until 2016.

“Now,” ventured the Volokh Conspiracy’s Eugene Kontorovich, “Obama really is bypassing Congress”:

Manipulating large-scale legislative policies, duly enacted, around election schedules goes beyond the parameters of executive discretion. Nor can this be justified by the dubious claim of “transition relief” from tax obligations. The employers are not being relieved just from taxes, but from direct primary legal obligations to provide insurance. Every year the administration delays large portions of ObamaCare, it says it is no big deal, because it is “temporary.” But a few temporary fixes in a row becomes a new permanent form of executive lawmaking.

“Executive lawmaking” sounds so harsh, don’t you think? Perhaps conceive of it instead as the executive branch’s “liberating“ itself from that pesky “Constitution-lock” we’ve heard so much about. After all, the alternative is just too depressing: “Whatever the stated reason for the new delay,” Kontorovich’s colleague at Volokh, Jonathan H. Adleradjudged candidly, “it is illegal,” and “the increasing brazenness with which the Administration is disregarding inconvenient or ill-conceived portions of its signature legislative achievement lowers the bar to a disturbing degree.” Fair enough. But how rich and how various have been those reasons! “Why do you care: you like the outcome?” the president’s critics have been asked, just one among a host of unconvincing defenses that have included, “well, I don’t like Congress,” “think of it more as that the White House is improving the law,” “this is too important for the rules,” “look, Obama won,” and, perhaps my all-time favorite, “what are you going to do about it anyway?”

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Thomas Jefferson and the Burr in Obama’s Kill List

Thomas-Jefferson-

Mike Church  writes:  President Obama’s kill-list memo, detailing the legal rationale for the extrajudicial killing of American citizens, reveals a world of tyrannical political power that used to be the sort of thing Jack Ryan would be dispatched to deal with, but usually to some Baltic republic ruled by an evil tyrant with only one name. The memo is so brazen in its own declaration of universal supremacy I have to wonder if the unnamed authors used a computer for the composition or just let God etch the words on the screen with lightning bolts.

[American Emperor: Aaron Burr’s Challenge to Jefferson’s America at Amazon]

Aaron-Burr-9232241-1-402This is what our empire has evolved to: a messianic state with all the fine ornaments of a cult including temples, ministers, and now a prosecutor, judge, and executioner masquerading as an executive branch. Viewing this perversion of a formerly federal system, a citizen of the old republic now stands at a similar vantage point to where Edmund Burke saw the mobs of the French General Assembly. ”That assembly, since the destruction of the orders, has no fundamental law, no strict convention, no respected usage to restrain it. Instead of finding themselves obliged to conform to a fixed constitution, they have a power to make a constitution which shall conform to their designs. Nothing in heaven or upon earth can serve as a control on them.”

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Thomas Jefferson Rolls in his Grave as Liberty-Crushing 21st Century Socialist Presidential Pretenders Invade His House, Part 2

hollande-obama-jefferson

Washington Post reports: Obama and Hollande visited Monticello, the historic estate of Francophile and onetime envoy to France Thomas Jefferson — an act of bonhomie aimed at putting aside the political troubles dogging both men…

From this morning’s HotAir:

If you had to name one American President who put up the most resistance to an imperial presidency, which comes to mind first? For most, it would be Thomas Jefferson, the third American President under the Constitution that Jefferson influenced with his ideals, based ultimately on the rejection of monarchical power Jefferson co-wrote in the Declaration of Independence….

The Weekly Standard has the clip of yesterday’s gaffe from Barack Obama:

At 4:45 POTUS and president Hollande walked out from a portico and strolled…with Leslie Bowman, president of the Monticello Foundation… POTUS said that he’d like to take a look and seemed delighted to “break the protocol”.

“That’s the good thing as a President, I can do whatever I want” he quipped…

…precisely the opposite of the example set by Jefferson…

More from Washington Post:

For much of the past decade, relations between France and the United States were tense…Both American officials and French diplomats say many of those divisions have since been closed because of Obama’s positive relationships with former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and with Hollande, who has governed much in the mold of Obama despite an early socialist platform.

Excuse me? “…governed much in the ‘mold of Obama in spite of an early socialist platform..? The Obama administration has moved U.S. policy further left than many countries in western Europe, including France.

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Thomas Jefferson Rolls in his Grave as Liberty-Crushing 21st Century Socialist Presidential Pretenders Invade His House…

obama_36

Sacré Bleu! Obama and François Hollande to Celebrate ‘Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ in Monticello

Daniel Halper writes:

President Obama and French President François Hollande will visit Monticello tomorrow afternoon, according to the official White House schedule. It’s in the spirit of “the shared values we hold dear:  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” says the White House.

Thomas_Jefferson's_Monticello

“Later in the afternoon, as part of the State Visit of President François Hollande to the United States, President Obama and President Hollande will travel to Charlottesville, Virginia. There will be in-town travel pool coverage of the departure from the West Slope of the Washington Monument, and the arrival at Charlottesville Albemarle Airport is open to pre-credentialed media,” reads Obama’s schedule.

monticello-interior

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The Left Doesn’t Believe in Dr. King’s Colorblind Dream

Martin-Luther-King-Jr

Jennifer Gratz  writes:  Martin Luther King is an American icon whose legacy has become part of the American ethos – the guiding beliefs that characterize our national identity.

Just as Thomas Jefferson is best known for authoring the Declaration of Independence, King’s contribution to this ethos is inseparable from his “I Have A Dream” speech, which articulated a future to which America continues to aspire. King’s portrait of a nation where individuals are judged on their actions and character without regard to their race remains the ideal for the vast majority of Americans.

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day, we honor his condemnation of racism, we commemorate his stand against government-sponsored discrimination, and we look forward to a day when colorblind society is a reality.

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Besides Founding a Nation, Collecting Books, and French Wine, Thomas Jefferson also Designed a Pasta Machine

This document is in the public domain of the United States of America

This document is in the public domain of the United States of America

Drawing of a macaroni machine, with a sectional view showing holes through which dough could be extruded, by Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson became interested in pasta and other exotic foodstuffs as a result of his travels…

Holy Macaroni, what didn’t this guy do?

Drawing: Wikimedia Commons

Amazon has this fine book: Dining at Monticello: In Good Taste and Abundance (Distributed for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation) 

For a more involved take on this, with sources, references, and even a Jefferson macaroni recipe, there’s a wonderful blog post at  acenewsservices.com  – “Thomas Jefferson the President and the Cook”:

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), principal author of the Declaration of Independence and third president of the United states, acquired a taste for continental cooking while serving as American minister to France in the 1780′s. When he returned to the United States in 1790 he brought with him a French cook and many recipes for French, Italian, and other au courant cookery. Jefferson not only served his guests the best European wines, but he liked to dazzle them with delights such as ice cream, peach flambe, macaroni, and macaroons. This drawing of a macaroni machine, with the sectional view showing holes from which dough could be extruded, reflects Jefferson’s curious mind and his interest and aptitude in mechanical matters…”


STRIKING BACK: ‘Compassionate Conservatives’ vs. Tea Party Insurgents

Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, called for "a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned." (Photo: Thinkstock)

Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, called for “a wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned.” (Photo: Thinkstock)

Philip Klein  writes:  When the Tea Party movement emerged to challenge President Obama in 2009, it also posed a counterweight to the “compassionate conservative” wing of the Republican Party, which was defined by the expansionist policies of President George W. Bush.

After years of being marginalized, compassionate conservatives – emboldened by the overreach of Tea Party conservatives during last fall’s government shutdown fight – are attempting to reassert control over the party.

In the winter 2014 issue of National Affairs, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner – two former speechwriters and advisers to Bush – propose “A Conservative Vision of Government,” in which they advance many of the arguments that were used 15 years ago to sideline small-government conservatives and lay the groundwork for the Bush-era spending binge.

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Remembering Christopher Hitchens, 1949 – 2011

 writes:  Christopher Hitchens died on this date two years ago. Hitchens was the model of a public intellectual. He was certainly public in his positions and arguments, which allows for anyone interested to assess a person’s arguments. And he was intellectually honest in a way that is uncommon, with many (most?) thinkers curtailing their views if they threaten a broader ideological identity. Though definitely a man of the left, Hitchens was never orthodox and ran into trouble given his positions on issues such as abortion (he was against it), foreign interventionism (he was for it), free speech deemed offensive to certain groups (he was for it), and more. While he rarely missed opportunities to offend right-wing sensibilities (he once joked about Ronald Reagan’s Alzheimer’s clearly having started with the president was still in office), he didn’t hold back against the left, either. He had few kind words about Martin Luther King, Jr. and he dismissed Gandhi as a “poverty pimp.”

He admitted to Reason in a wide-ranging  2001 Reason interview conducted a few months before the 9/11 attacks that his connection to the left was fraying (he would break definitively with The Nation magazine shortly after the attacks). Part of the reason stemmed from his realization that the forces of creative destruction unleashed by capitalism were remaking the world in a way that he – along with Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto – could appreciate:

The thing I’ve often tried to point out to people from the early days of the Thatcher revolution in Britain was that the political consensus had been broken, and from the right. The revolutionary, radical forces in British life were being led by the conservatives. That was something that almost nobody, with the very slight exception of myself, had foreseen.

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The Triumph of the Maternalists

The new paternalism is so nonconfrontational, anti-ideological, and unwilling to claim moral authority that it can hardly be called “paternal.” Let’s call it “maternalism”…

maternalism

Nancy McDermott looks at the cultural assault on masculinity

‘Nanny and Sammy followed their mother’s instructions without a murmur; indeed, they were overawed. There is a certain uncanny and superhuman quality about all such purely original undertakings as their mother’s was to them. Nanny went back and forth with her light loads, and Sammy tugged with sober energy.’  (From ‘The Revolt of Mother’ by Mary E Wilkins (1)).

“…what we are seeing today is the dismantling of the historic gains of the Enlightenment in the name of The Mother”

The idea for this essay began percolating about a year ago, when I reviewed Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men. She made the case that women are achieving parity with men and even surpassing them in a number of important ways. Although I didn’t quite buy all her explanations, I liked Rosin’s book and was sorry to see so many reviewers dismiss it in what seemed like a rush to reiterate the persistence of women’s oppression. I thought her observations were reasonable, but more importantly they seemed to throw the contours of something else into relief, something beyond gender roles. It was only when I began to look at the question of paternalism that it dawned on me what this might be.

Paternalism has emerged as the dominant form of authoritarianism in our society. Across the world, policymakers are quietly working behind the scenes to save us from ourselves, nudging us towards Jerusalem with smaller fast-food cups, architecture intended to make us climb more stairs, and maternity wards that encourage bonding and breastfeeding. These policies are seldom debated or even noticed. When they are, the routine argument is not whether they are a good idea but how ‘hard’ or openly coercive should they be. Why value autonomy at all when people, left to their own devices, continually make poor choices that foil their aspirations and create a social burden in the process?

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Out in the Cold: Vanity Fair Turns on The Messiah’s ‘Closed-Off Attitude”

MrLonelyGuyO

The Lonely Guy

He’s a community organizer who works alone. What was once his greatest strength—he kept his cool and didn’t need feedback—is now a liability

Todd S. Purdum writes:  When Barack Obama arrived in Washington almost five years ago, the universal assumption was that the young president—who had, after all, won office by exploiting every connective tool of the national social and electoral network—would run his White House in sharp contrast to the bunkered, hunkered-down George W. Bush.

Like so much conventional wisdom, that impression has proved dead wrong. In fact, Obama’s resolute solitude—his isolation and alienation from the other players and power centers of Washington, be they rivals or friends—has emerged as the defining trait of his time in office. He may be the biggest presidential paradox since Thomas Jefferson, the slaveholder who wrote the Declaration of Independence: a community organizer who works alone.

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Rewarding Excellence: Tammany Hall Becomes a New York City Landmark

tammany-hall-lrgPresident Obama nominated to present the Civic Achievement Award?

New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the mayoral election that will write the city’s next (hopefully bright) chapter of political history, but today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission revisited one of its most infamous—bestowing a landmark designation on the former home of  Tammany Hall.

The Democratic political machine’s headquarters at 100 East 17th Street was completed in 1929, when the pay-to-play, corrupt political machine was at the height of its powers. A few short years later, Tammany Hall would lose its stranglehold on city and state politics, when the extent of its corruption was uncovered, leading to mayor Jimmy Walker’s resignation. FDR, among other influential politicians, distanced themselves from the group and Fiorello LaGuardia became the first anti-Tammany candidate to be elected in decades. Read the rest of this entry »


The Phrase ‘Signature Achievement’

It’s not only Undemocratic, it’s Un-American

Am I the only one bothered by this? Not the overuse of the phrase, but the phrase itself. ‘Signature’ legislation. ‘Signature’ achievement. The arrogance, the vanity associated with it–okay, yes, that bothers me, and well get to that, but–they’re the things that bother me least about it.

It’s that it’s got everything exactly backwards.

imagesIt implies a Ruler, and subjects. The Ruler, or Monarch, would endeavor to preserve a “signature achievement”. Like a Master Chef guarding the secret sauce in his ‘signature dish’. The purpose of this tradition is the opposite of serving the interests of the public. It’s to serve the interests of the Ruler. To bestow honor upon his Majesty’s historic legacy. While the scribes and poets and servants and subjects weigh the fortunes and perils of legislative achievements of the Great One in power. I don’t just mean the current president, either. Any president.

Since when is it our job–as citizens–or the media’s job–or the job of historians–to facilitate the White House occupant’s ego-gratifcation? We’re supposed to invest in preserving the ‘historic legacy’ of an elected official? A public servant?

We already pay for the house. The plane. The Secret Service detail. The vacations. The library. The whole thing.

Are we actually enduring the catastrophe of The Patient Care and Affordable Care Act‘s spectacular, epic, cascading failures primarily to protect president’s vanity?  A chief executive unwilling to compromise, and a governing party dedicated–not to doing the least harm to citizens, but to minimizing harm–to the ruling party? To help insure a signature stack of 11,000 pages of regulations’ special place in history’?

In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, we are not required to be burdened with bad law because we’re afraid of hurting the lawmakers’–or the president’s–feelings.

I try to imagine Thomas Jefferson consulting with his advisors, concerned about how the pamphleteers would regard the controversial debts incurred in order to produce Jefferson’s “signature achievement”, the Louisiana Purchase. Or John Adams’ allies in the Senate fretting over his’ ‘signature legislation’, the Alien and Sedition Acts, rightly concerned for how it might negatively impact president Adams’ ‘historic legacy’. Did legislators boast, in 1919, about the ratification of the doomed 18th Amendment? Did president Wilson entertain the notion of preserving his signature legislative achievement? Did such conversations take place? Perhaps they did. If so, it was a bad idea then, too.

I can imagine Charles Manson reading books about the Tate LaBianca massacre and proudly discussing the historic significance of his “signature achievement” with his prison mates.

Google News brings up 9,780 hits on the phrase ‘signature achievement’. And 15,300 on the phrase ‘signature Legislation’.

Who is the master, and who is the servant?

It’s undemocratic. It’s un-American.

I vote to retire the phrase.

 


Five Things They Don’t Want You to Know About Conspiracy Theories

a-ridiculous-number-of-americans-believe-in-crazy-conspiracy-theories

Exploding the myths about the paranoid tales we tell

 writes:  It might seem like we’re living at a uniquely rich moment for conspiracy theories. Over the last few years, we’ve seen it claimed that Osama bin Laden didn’t really die, that Barack Obama is covering up the true circumstances of his birth, that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian have encoded Illuminati symbolism in their baby’s name, that the National Security Agency has been secretly intercepting Americans’ phone calls and e-mails—oh, wait. That last one’s true.

It’s easy to write off conspiracy theories as the delusions of the political fringe, a minor nuisance fueled by the rise of the Internet. Easy—and inaccurate. Conspiracy stories have been a major part of American life since the colonial days. They are not just found in the political extremes, and they are not invariably wrong. And even when they are wrong, as is so often true, they still have lessons to teach us. To understand why conspiracies matter, it helps to clear away some myths that have attached themselves to the subject.

Myth #1: People today are uniquely prone to believing conspiracy theories

A 2011 article in the British newspaper The Independent flatly declared that “there are more conspiracy theories and more conspiracy theory believers than ever before.” This, the reporter continued, was largely “because the internet has made it easy to propagate rumour and supposition on a global scale.” As an example, he cited a story that the Ku Klux Klan secretly owned KFC and was lacing “the food with a drug that makes only black men impotent.”

But there has never been an age when conspiracy theories were not popular. From Puritan fears that Satan was commanding a conspiracy of Indians to Thomas Jefferson’s concern that the British had “a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery,” from the assassination rumors that followed the death of President Zachary Taylor to the tales of subversion told during the Cold War, every significant event in American history has inspired conspiracy theories. And a lot of insignificant events have, too.

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A Voice of Reason

A Voice of Reason