Thursday, May 31, 2018

Quotes from the Founders and Others Regarding Freedom and Guns

"As civil rulers, not having their duty to the people before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as the military forces which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article [the Second Amendment] in their right to keep and bear their private arms."
     - Tench Coxe, Philadelphia Federal Gazette, June 18, 1789

"Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves. Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American.... [T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people."
       - "A Pennsylvanian" (Tench Coxe), To The People of the United States, Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788

"The conclusion is thus inescapable that the history, concept, and wording of the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States, as well as its interpretation by every major commentator and court in the first half-century after its ratification, indicates that what is protected is an individual right of a private citizen to own and carry firearms in a peaceful manner."
        - Report of the Subcommittee On The Constitution of the Committee On The Judiciary, United States Senate, 97th Congress, second session (February, 1982), SuDoc# Y4.J 89/2: Ar 5/5

"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks.
Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again; poor fools.
And their grand-children are once more slaves."
     - Attributed to author D. H. Lawrence

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are ruined."
     - Patrick Henry, Speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 5, 1788

"Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense? ...If our defense be the real object of having those arms, in whose hands can they be trusted with more propriety, or equal safety to us, as in our own hands?"
     - Patrick Henry, circa 1788, 3 J. Elliot, Debates in the Several State Conventions 45, 2d ed. Philadelphia, 1836)

"Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs, and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would."
     - John Adams, Boston Gazette, Sept. 5, 1763, reprinted in The Works of John Adams 438 (Charles F. Adams ed., 1851)

"Though defensive violence will always be 'a sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men."
     - St. Augustine of Hippo

"A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer's hand."
     - Lucius Annaeus Seneca

"Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms.  This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced.  But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one more guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against a tyranny which now appears remote in America, but which historically has proved to be always possible."
     - Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D), Know Your Lawmakers, Guns (magazine), Feb. 1960, p. 4

"Foolish liberals who are trying to read the Second Amendment out of the constitution by claiming it's not an individual right or that it's too much of a safety hazard don’t see the danger of the big picture. They're courting disaster by encouraging others to use this same means to eliminate portions of the Constitution they don't like."
     - Alan Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard University

"The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."
     - Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, 1833

"But if someone has a gun and is trying to kill you, it would be reasonable to shoot back with your own gun."
     - 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, "Educating the Heart Summit", Portland Oregon, May 2001

"That rifle on the wall of the working class flat or labourer's cottage is the symbol of democracy. It is our job to see that it stays there."
     - George Orwell, The Evening Standard (newspaper), January 8, 1941, quoted in "George Orwell A Life" by Bernard Crick (1980)

"[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist."
     - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 29, January 10, 1788

"The Constitution shall never be construed to prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."
     - Samuel Adams, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention, 1788

A writer in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Apr. 23, 1788, criticized "the loyalists in the beginning of the late war, who objected to associating, arming and fighting, in defence of our liberties, because these measures were not constitutional. A free people should always be left ... with every possible power to promote their own happiness."
      - The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, (Mfm. Supp.) 2483 (M. Jensen ed. 1976).

"By calling attention to 'a well regulated militia,' the 'security' of the nation, and the right of each citizen 'to keep and bear arms,' our founding fathers recognized the essentially civilian nature of our economy.  Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country.  For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important."
     - Sen. John F. Kennedy (D), Know Your Lawmakers, Guns (magazine), April. 1960, p. 4 (1960)

"If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair."
     - Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 28

"I ask who are the militia? They consist now of the whole people, except a few public officers."
     - George Mason, Address to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 4, 1788

"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States. A military force, at the command of Congress, can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional; for they will possess the power, and jealousy will instantly inspire the inclination, to resist the execution of a law which appears to them unjust and oppressive."
     - Noah WebsterAn Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution, October 10, 1787, in PAMPHLETS ON THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES 56 (P. Ford ed. 1888).

  "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
     - Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer No. 53, January 25, 1788

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty... and subject innocent persons to all the vexations that the guilty alone ought to suffer? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree."
     - Thomas Jefferson, Legal Commonplace Book (quoting On Crimes and Punishments by Cesare Beccaria, 1765)

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
     - Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

"If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy."
     - Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Cooper, November 29, 1802

"A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprize and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks."
     - Thomas Jefferson, letter to his 13-year-old nephew, Peter Carr, August 19, 1785. John Catanzariti, ed. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. Princeton University Press, 1950-. 33 vols.

"...whenever all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as venal and oppressive as the government from which we separated."
      - Thomas Jefferson, letter to C. Hammond August 18, 1821

"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed."
     - Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Cartwright, 5 June 1824

"I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence ... I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy."
     - Thomas Jefferson, letter to Giovanni Fabbroni, June 8, 1778

"On every occasion [of Constitutional interpretation] let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying [to force] what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, [instead let us] conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
     - Thomas Jefferson, letter to William Johnson, 12 June 1823

"(a)  The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and ... under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are --
              (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
              (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia."
     - Militia Act, 10 U.S.C. § 311 (enacted 1956, amended 1958, currently in effect)

"The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals... It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of."
     - Albert Gallatin, Oct 7, 1789

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."
      - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861

"A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves ... and include all men capable of bearing arms."
    - Richard Henry Lee, 1788, on the meaning of "militia" in the Second Amendment

"Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem." [I chose dangerous freedom over peaceful servitude.]
     - Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787, attributed to the Count Palatine of Posen before the Diet of Poland, cited in "The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right" by Jean Jacques Rousseau

"To disarm the people... was the best and most effectual way to enslave them."
     - George Mason, speech of June 14, 1788

"What country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms... What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
      -Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William S. Smith (November 13, 1787)

"Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better -- This is a most valuable, -- a most sacred right -- a right, which we hope and belive, is to liberate the world -- Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it-- Any portion of the such people of an existing government that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the teritory as they inhabit-- More than this, a majority of any portion of the such people of an existing government, -- may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement-- Such minority, was precisely the case, of the tories of our own revolution-- It is not the qual a quality of revolutions, not to go by old lines, or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones."
     - Abraham Lincoln, from the handwritten draft of a speech he made to Congress on the Mexican war, 1848 (spelling and strikeouts as in original) [These words came back to haunt him a few years later.]

"The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world… The first step in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come is to teach men to shoot!"
     - President Theodore Roosevelt

"I am thus far a Quaker, that I would gladly argue with all the world to lay aside the use of arms and settle matters by negotiation, but unless the whole will, the matter ends, and I take up my musket and thank Heaven He has put it in my power."
      - Thomas Paine

"Americans have the will to resist because you have weapons. If you don’t have a gun, freedom of speech has no power."
     - Yoshimi Ishikawa, Strawberry Road

"Once we roared like lions for liberty; now we bleat like sheep for security."
     - Norman Vincent Peale

"The Second Amendment is not about duck hunting, and I know I'm not going to make very many friends saying this, but it's about our right, all of our right to be able to protect ourselves from all of you guys up there."
     - Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp

"How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual… as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of."
     - Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp

"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
     - William Pitt (the Younger), Speech in the House of Commons, November 18, 1783

"One of the arguments that had been made against gun control was that an armed citizenry was the final bulwark against tyranny. My response had been that untrained, lightly-armed non-soldiers couldn’t prevail against a modern army. I had concluded that the qualitative difference in firepower was such that all of the previous rules of guerrilla war no longer applied. Both Vietnam and Afghanistan demonstrated that wasn’t true. Repelling an armed invasion is not something that American citizens are likely to face, but the possibility of a despotic government coming to power is not wholly unthinkable. One of the sequellae of Vietnam was the rise of the Khmer Rouge and slaughter of perhaps a million Cambodian citizens. Those citizens, like the Jews in Germany or the Armenians in Turkey, were unarmed and thus utterly and completely defenseless against police and paramilitary. An armed minority was able to kill and terrorize unarmed victims with total impunity."
      - Paul Hagar,

"The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20."
     - Sam Cohen (inventor of the neutron bomb)

"As a card-carrying member of the liberal media, producing this piece was an eye opening experience. I have to admit that I saw guns as inherently evil, violence begets violence, and so on. I have learned, however, that in trained hands, just the presence of a gun can be a real “man stopper.” I am sorry that women have had to resort to this, but wishing it wasn’t so won’t make it any safer out there."
     - Jill Fieldstein, CBS Network Producer, April 29th 1993

"Make good scouts of yourselves, become good rifle shots so that if it becomes necessary that you defend your families and your country, that you can do it."
     - Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, Founder of the Boy Scouts

"Self defense is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish; the immediate gift of the Creator, obliges everyone to resist the first approaches of tyranny."
      - Elbridge Gerry, Vice-President of the United States

"The danger (where there is any) from armed citizens, is only to the ‘government’, not to ’society’; and as long as they have nothing to revenge in the government (which they cannot have while it is in their own hands) there are many advantages in their being accustomed to the use of arms, and no possible disadvantage."
     - Joel Barlow, poet, diplomat, politician (1753-1812)

"One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes without resistance, is, by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms."
    - Constitutional scholar Joseph Story, 1840

"You need only reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence."
     - Charles A. Beard, American historian (1874-1948)

"No kingdom can be secured otherwise than by arming the people. The possession of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave. He, who has nothing, and who himself belongs to another, must be defended by him, whose property he is, and needs no arms. But he, who thinks he is his own master, and has what he can call his own, ought to have arms to defend himself, and what he possesses; else he lives precariously, and at discretion."
     - James Burgh, Political Disquisitions (1774) (Thomas Jefferson included this book in a course of recommended reading for James Madison and James Monroe.  When he was President, he urged everyone in Congress to read it.)

"The tank, the B-52, the fighter-bomber, the state-controlled police and military are the weapons of dictatorship. The rifle is the weapon of democracy. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military. The hired servants of our rulers. Only the government--and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws."
     - Edward Abbey (1927-1989), author of The Monkey Wrench Gang

"The congress of the United States possesses no power to regulate, or interfere with the domestic concerns, or police of any state: it belongs not to them to establish any rules respecting the rights of property; nor will the constitution permit any prohibition of arms to the people."
     - St. George Tucker, Justice of the Virginia Supreme Court (1752-1827)

"Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other."
     - John Locke, English philosopher and physician, regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and known as the "Father of Classical Liberalism" (1632-1704)

"The great object is, that every man be armed. [...] Every one who is able may have a gun."
     - Patrick Henry, speech of June 14, 1788

"I don’t believe people should to be able to own guns."
     - Barack Obama (during conversation with economist and author John R. Lott Jr. at the University of Chicago Law School in the 1990s, At The Brink, 2013)


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Progressivism and the New Frontier


If today's mentality and "truths" had prevailed in the 1850's, people who tried to go west on the Oregon Trail would have been arrested for child endangerment and trespassing on government-owned land. Wagon train organizers would have been thrown in prison as human traffickers. Heck, if today's mentality had prevailed 500 years ago, The New World would never even have been settled.

I just hope we can start settling space before we create a "smarter planet" where every human behavior is continuously monitored and controlled. 

If we don't get off the planet before this happens, space travel will be banned as an unsustainable waste of resources dreamed up by "evil billionaires just trying to make money".

I see a great dark age coming, with a world-governing bureaucracy forcing equality, controlling resources, and defining and mandating cultural norms. The end result will be zero individual freedom, and, finally, universal poverty and dependency.

As Robert Zubrin has said, the vigor of the human race requires a frontier that encourages individualism with individual risk-taking resulting in great individual reward.  There is no universal health care or safety net on the frontier. No OSHA. No EPA. No guarantees.

That is the environment where humanity excels and progresses.  Without a frontier, freedom cannot endure. To quote Zubrin, "The cops are too close."

If you are currently fighting for large social causes to be managed and enforced by governments (instead of just helping people yourself), you have already lost your true human vigor, and have become effete. You are part of the problem.

"Progressivism," aka socialism, is exactly the same as slavery. It ends in a populace beholden to rulers, totally dependent on "free" handouts, and never able to achieve anything close to its true potential. In a "progressive" society, the government provides, and therefore owns, your food, your medical care, your housing -- everything that is important to life.  They can make you dance -- and vote -- anyway they want.  There is no incentive to do anything really.

Hopefully the citizen ownership of guns in the US will act as a deterrent to buy us a few more decades of freedom, and allow us to build the new frontier (if we can keep people like Hillary Clinton from gaining power over us).

But the rest of the civilized world is pretty much doomed by their unsustainable "progressive" socialist cultures.

It is a race between progressivism and freedom.  Can we reach the new worlds of the new frontier before the cops shut us down?

I have my doubts. We really need to be able to hold off the forces of progressivism for around 50 to 100 years as the technologies advance.  During that time, we have to make sure that the billionaires of the space age become trillionaires without governments taking their money away. And the rest of us need to be able to get rich off of it too. 

By then the human race will have spread to the moon, Mars, and the asteroids, and will be beyond any control by the degenerate "progressive" residuum on Earth.

If you haven't seen Zubrin's exposition on space settlement and the role of the frontier in the development of American individual freedom, you probably ought to read through it here:

It may be the most inspiring thing I have ever read.


Friday, February 19, 2016

Encryption, Apple, Tim Cook, the American Revolution, George Orwell, and a Smarter Planet

The whole idea of individual liberty that took hold in the American colonies in the late 1700's was the result not of advancements in philosophy, but was rather due to a radical change in the physical balance of power between kings and their subjects -- a change that was driven by a new technology. 

Over the previous century, manufacturing and design innovations had reduced the cost and improved the performance of firearms. Everyone became able to own one, thus providing the citizenry with more power than the king. That radical and persistent change in the balance of power doomed the ruler-ruled paradigm -- which had been the hallmark of civilization since the development of agriculture. The old aristocracy of blood and divine right didn't see it coming until it was too late.

In the last century, government-controlled military technology such as tanks, aircraft, and missiles have shifted the balance of power back to governments. We should not be surprised that the ruler-ruled paradigm was reasserted, and governments have once again become large and intrusive -- perhaps more so than at any other time in history. (Even Rome only had a 10% tax, and they never told their citizens what they could and couldn't eat.)

But in the last 20 years new technologies have arisen that could change the balance of power back to individuals -- in a manner very similar to what happened in the 1700's.

Strong encryption and decentralized crypto-currencies, combined with powerful handheld devices -- and the Internet itself -- are giving people the ability to communicate, transact business, access a library of all human knowledge (even "prohibited" knowledge), and basically do anything they want, all without government visibility.

But this time the aristocracy is fully aware of the danger and is fighting back to keep their power.

Like the British in 1775, who sent an elite SWAT team to confiscate military assault weapons from the colonists at Lexington and Concord, governments are fighting on multiple fronts to keep the new privacy technologies weak, while continually working to increase their authority to see everything we do.

But I hope and believe that, like guns in the 1700's, the proliferation of such pervasive and inexpensive technologies will not be able to be stopped over the long-term. 

So imagine a world where the government has no insight at all into your personal business. Things we accept now, like income tax and search warrants, would not be able to exist.  Laws against such things as money laundering and the vague crime of "conspiracy" could no longer be enforced.  What is now called the "black market" would become simply the entire market.

Government would become tiny. Perhaps a more organic and decentralized voluntary organization would evolve.  Today's vast governmental powers would be seen as  belonging to an archaic dark age.

Of course people worry about what would happen without a government. After the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson wrote quite a few letters to friends in England and Europe trying to convince them that the US had not become a lawless hell. They viewed the revolution against the king as children killing their father, and that without the king's noble and godlike direction, there would be no order or safety in the country.

But we did just fine without the king.  The aristocracy had outlived its usefulness. Perhaps vast invasive centralized government has too.

I worry however that there is no Second Amendment-like clause protecting the right to have and use these new technologies.  If the governments wins, this powerful tech will be twisted to serve only the purpose of their new aristocracy.

Such comprehensive surveillance in the name of safety would cause the death of individual liberty.  A 1984-like dystopia would ensue:

Every step, every facial expression, every word you say, and everything you read or view is recorded and analyzed by autonomous systems for any trace of "trouble". Access to your home, your car, mass transportation, your money, and your phone is controlled in real time. Your freedom to travel is limited to certain areas at certain times. What you are allowed to purchase is tailored to what the system says you need. Your use of energy and other resources is monitored and actively controlled. Interactions with other people are monitored or blocked at will -- even for face to face meetings since your location is tracked and actively controlled. And you are never out of the reach of autonomous non-lethal weapon systems which can be deployed against you at any time and any place. All of this is for the safety and sustainability of our new society of limits. 

Note that this level of surveillance and control is what is meant when they talk about "building a smarter planet".

As George Orwell himself said, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face -- forever."

The technology already exists that will enable either the Orwellian future or the Liberty future. Which future we get will be determined by whether or not we allow the government to dig its hooks in. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thomas Jefferson, the Commerce Clause, and Unlimited Governmental Power

This is a fascinating quote from Thomas Jefferson's letter to William Branch Giles, describing the exact point in time when the government first began to grow beyond the Constitution. Ah, if they would have stopped it back then, perhaps a precedent would have been laid in stone, and we wouldn't be in the situation where the government has expanded its power into almost every aspect of our lives.
I see, as you do, and with the deepest affliction, the rapid strides with which the federal branch of our government is advancing towards the usurpation of all the rights reserved to the States, and the consolidation in itself of all powers, foreign and domestic; and that, too, by constructions which, if legitimate, leave no limits to their power.
Take together the decisions of the federal court, the doctrines of the President, and the misconstructions of the constitutional compact acted on by the legislature of the federal branch, and it is but too evident, that the three ruling branches of that department are in combination to strip their colleagues, the State authorities, of the powers reserved by them, and to exercise themselves all functions foreign and domestic.
Under the power to regulate commerce, they assume indefinitely that also over agriculture and manufactures.... Under the authority to establish post roads, they claim that of cutting down mountains for the construction of roads, of digging canals, and aided by a little sophistry on the words "general welfare," a right to do, not only the acts to effect that, which are specifically enumerated and permitted, but whatsoever they shall think, or pretend will be for the general welfare.
And what is our resource for the preservation of the constitution?  Reason and argument?  You might as well reason and argue with the marble columns encircling them.  The representatives chosen by ourselves?  They are joined in the combination, some from incorrect views of government, some from corrupt ones, sufficient voting together to out-number the sound parts; and with majorities only of one, two, or three, bold enough to go forward in defiance.
Are we then to stand to our arms, with the hot-headed Georgian?*   No. That must be the last resource, not to be thought of until much longer and greater sufferings.  If every infraction of a compact of so many parties is to be resisted at once, as a dissolution of it, none can ever be formed which would last one year.   We must have patience and longer endurance then with our brethren while under delusion; give them time for reflection and experience of consequences; keep ourselves in a situation to profit by the chapter of accidents; and separate from our companions only when the sole alternatives left, are the dissolution of our Union with them, or submission to a government without limitation of powers. Between these two evils, when we must make a choice, there can be no hesitation.
 - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to William Branch Giles, December 26, 1825
*This was Georgia Governor George M. Troup, who had famously called on the people to "stand to their arms" when US forces were sent to Georgia to prevent the state from removing Creek Indians from their lands.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Right of the People

I have been watching the political haranguing regarding the various massacres committed by crazy people that seem to occur on a regular basis in the gun-free zones of our country -- places where self-defense is not allowed.

I see politicians posturing for assault weapon bans, and magazine capacity bans. They say things like "no one needs a gun like this for hunting," and "no one should have these weapons of war in their home," and "we need to get these mass-murdering guns off our streets."

Their perennial push for new "reasonable" restrictions on gun ownership show that these politicians, and indeed most of our citizens, have no understanding of our history, and no concept of the principles that our country was founded on.

The Second Amendment has never been about the right to hunt. The Founders didn't care about hunting. They cared about Liberty. They wanted to make sure that the power of the gun resided not in the government, but in the people. They wanted to make sure that if the government were to grow large and oppressive, the people would have the power to overthrow it.

They wanted the government to be small and weak, and the people strong.

Thus the Second Amendment is purely about our right to own and carry military arms; the kind of arms that an individual soldier would carry; the kind that gives the people the power to change the government by force, if necessary.

Note that the Second Amendment doesn't grant this right. Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, it affirms the pre-existing, inherent right that we have simply by being human. The Founders believed that all men were "endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." Thus no government has any power whatsoever to take our rights away. We have our rights forever, regardless of what kings, or presidents, or government agencies, or Congress says. Our rights are forever beyond even the power of democratic majorities.

This means that even if the Second Amendment were to be removed from the Constitution, we would still have our inherent unalienable right to own military guns.

It is important to remember that gun confiscations and gun restrictions were the match that lit the American Revolutionary War. The "Shot Heard Round the World" on April 19th, 1775, was the response of the citizens of Concord, Massachusetts to what was in essence a British SWAT team coming to get their military guns, ammunition, and cannons.

The core of the Second Amendment is about the right of free people to respond to exactly that kind of oppressive government action.

Based on the writings of Jefferson, Adams, Paine, Washington, and many other Founders, it is clear that they would have considered any ban on citizen ownership of the soldier's standard military arm to be a point of no return. The right to keep and bear military arms is the foundational right that protects all other rights. By abrogating that right, the government eliminates the only true physical check on its power.

Military arms in the hands of the people form the greatest barrier to the kinds of utopian changes to our culture that some of our servants in Washington want to make. And that is why they take every opportunity to attempt to ban such guns.

Here are more quotes from the Founders regarding Liberty and Guns.

Friday, October 9, 2015

The American Century of Liberty Initiative


I have a proposal for every American. It is a way for you to personally help ensure that the American principle of individual liberty is propagated deeply into the future of our nation.

I call it the American Century of Liberty Initiative -- and it is simple.

In 1788, 12 years after the American Revolution, Patrick Henry said, "The great object is, that every man be armed." He and the other Founders knew that the power of the gun should rest forever in the hands of the people. They wanted the people strong, and the government small and weak.

So let's make sure everyone is armed.

First, in accordance with your own financial circumstances, buy a military-type rifle and a good handgun. An AR-15 can be had for less than $800. You can even build your own. A handgun is less than half that.

Shooting is not hard to learn; it comes very naturally. But if you were not weaned on guns, take a class to make sure you are safe.

Now here is the important part: 

Next, buy a military-type rifle and a good handgun for each of your children too, and train them in shooting -- and in the principles of individual liberty. Then, if your circumstances allow, start collecting for your future children's children, and then for your future children's children's children. And their spouses. Take it as far as your finances will permit.
" preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them..." - Richard Henry Lee, Additional Letters from the Federal Farmer No. 53, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.

The goal is to reach out over the next 100 years; to affect the future of American Liberty well into the twenty-second century.

Very few opportunities come along for one person to change the world 100 years from now. This is your chance to leave a powerful legacy indeed: a future of freedom for your descendants.

The Founders of our country gave us the blueprint of liberty. Go read what they and others have said about guns and how necessary an armed populace is to the preservation of Liberty.
"Men fight for liberty and win it with hard knocks. Their children, brought up easy, let it slip away again; poor fools. And their grand-children are once more slaves." - D. H. Lawrence
Break that historical cycle of liberty and slavery. Fight against any more laws that restrict your guns.  Recognize that universal background checks are not about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.  By prohibiting private transfers, and requiring background checks, the government will quickly build an accurate database of where all the guns are, so they can confiscate them easily later.

Over the last 240 years, generations of American patriots have fought and died for your freedom. It is threatened once again.  I encourage all of you to accept this duty to preserve the blessings of liberty for your children into the next century.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

There is No Global Warming

I keep reading articles about how various disasters have been caused by global warming. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, deaths of birds, migration of vegetation poleward, etc. are all constantly blamed on global warming -- or climate change.  But what if there is no global warming?  What if the climate is basically stable?

Well, it is.

There has been no warming of the planet for the last 18 years and 1 month.  So anyone blaming anything on climate change, needs to be told that there is no climate change.

And that is even using the warmists own data, which is constantly being fiddled upward in a desperate attempt to prove their thesis.  In reality, the world has been cooling as the Atlantic enters the cold phase of its usual decades-long cycle.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is either in the pay of Big Green (such as various grant-dependent scientists), or they are simply ignorant.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Russia Needs Ukraine

Why is Russia so intent on taking over Ukraine? To most Americans, it simply doesn't make any sense.  If I ask people at work, the answer is, "Maybe Putin is trying to rebuild the old Soviet Union." If I ask why, they say, "He just wants power."

But that is rather vague, and it doesn't seem to justify why he is apparently willing to sacrifice so much.  He is destroying relationships with the entire western world, and causing sanctions to be imposed that are seriously degrading the Russian economy.  Even so, Putin and his Ukrainian adventure are very popular in Russia.

Irredentism as an excuse

On the surface, there is their stated desire to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine. This is known as "irredentism", which is defined by wikipedia as,
...any position of a state advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged.
Irredentism has been the prima facie cause of many major wars, including the Mexican-American war (US citizens in Texas), WWI (Serbs in Austria-Hungary), and WWII (Germans in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Austria).

While it is interesting (and rather concerning) that the largest wars in the history of the world have been apparently caused by the same thing Russia is claiming in attacking Ukraine, in most instances irredentism has been an excuse, not the real reason for war.  There is usually a larger compelling national interest.  This is also the case in Ukraine.

The compelling national interest

While Russia's desire to develop regional economic hegemony as a way to ensure security and power is well known, I don't think it can explain the intensity and sacrifice inherent in their Ukraine invasion.

As I show below, it has been apparent for some time that their real reason is to maintain political and military power.  Without Ukraine, Russia would have great difficulty remaining a world superpower to be reckoned with.  And most importantly, without Ukraine, Russia would be highly vulnerable in any future world war.  The recapture of Ukraine therefore becomes an existential imperative to Russia.

Crimea and the Sea of Azov

Clearly, Russia annexed Crimea to ensure their access to and control of the Black Sea.  Their ports at Sevastopol in Crimea, and Novorossiysk, also on the Black Sea, are particularly important since their only other year-round port is at Vladivostok, which is pretty much on the other side of the world.

To let another country (particularly a country now aligned with Europe and NATO) take over Sevastopol, would put the Black Sea in dispute, which would threaten Russia's entire naval force-projection capability, worldwide.

Russia could not remain a great power without Crimea.  After the overthrow of the pro-Russian government in Kiev, the annexation was a certainty.

So Crimea is now a part of Russia again, but it is cut off by Ukrainian territory to the north around the Sea of Azov. The Russian invasion of that area, starting last week, was probably a result of military analyses/simulations showing that Crimea would be indefensible without controlling the entire perimeter of the Sea of Azov.  So the invasion through Donetsk was also a certainty.

What of the rest of Ukraine?

The German Invasion of Russia in WWII
Back when all of this started a few months ago, I mentioned to some friends that Russia needs the Ukraine as a buffer to help prevent an invasion from Europe. They were totally dismissive, stating that such a thought was ludicrous. (One constant since about 1918 is a popular belief that a big war can never happen again, because we are all so progressive now...) But every past invasion of Russia has come across the steppes of Ukraine and Belarus. During the last such invasion, 20 million Russians were killed.

Yes, the last time it happened was indeed over 70 years ago, and a lot has changed since then.  But do we really think that Russia is going to allow NATO to have missiles, artillery, and troops in Ukraine, right on their border -- a 6-hour drive from Moscow? With Ukraine aligning more and more with the West, that was a likely end result.

Road Trip from Ukraine to Moscow
Back in the Cold War era, there would have been nukes falling long before NATO had gotten that far through Ukraine.

A natural barrier to separate an "east" and "west" Ukraine would be the Dnieper River.  But Kiev straddles it.  And really Russia would prefer all of Ukraine as a buffer.

Ukraine as Texas

Consider this scenario: Imagine if Texas were to break away from the US and declare itself a separate country, coincident with other states breaking away during a time of national crisis.  Suppose that as time goes on many of the Anglo residents move out of Texas back to the US, and the Hispanic ethnic group becomes a majority. After 10-15 years, with the US back on its feet, Texas begins to align itself with Mexico.

Even though Mexico has never invaded the US, wouldn't we want to secure the oil ports and production facilities along the Gulf coast, to provide for our strategic defense and global reach?  And wouldn't it be likely that we would invade Texas using the excuse that we were doing it "to protect the historically American people still living there"?  Wouldn't we have an even greater imperative to do so if there had been a past history of invasions across the Rio Grande that had resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of Americans?

Note that I am not trying to justify Russia's position, merely trying to understand how this situation will progress.

The bottom line

Russia has a clear strategic imperative to own Crimea, and all approaches to it.  They will secure Crimea and the area around the Azov Sea up to the Dnieper.  It is needed for them to remain a global power. They will be willing to sacrifice much for this, including relations with other countries, and they will absorb any economic sanctions that are imposed.  Russian control of these areas is non-negotiable.

Russia will work to have all of the Ukraine under their dominion.  They need a buffer between them and Europe/NATO.  They will not allow even the possibility of NATO forces 6 hours from Moscow.  They will likely conquer slowly, a piece at a time, in order to keep the West on a slow simmer.  They may stop at the Dnieper for now, but I suspect that long term they want all of it.

About the only thing that would stop Russia would be for Ukraine to rescind their ties with NATO, and go back to the Russian fold as an independent but Russia-aligned nation. Hard to see how this could happen at this point, even if Russia provides assurances about sovereignty.

A worst case scenario?

An important point was made by Putin at a youth camp today:

"Russia is far from being involved in any large-scale conflicts," he said at the camp on the banks of Lake Seliger. "We don't want that and don't plan on it. But naturally, we should always be ready to repel any aggression towards Russia.

"Russia's partners...should understand it's best not to mess with us," said Putin, dressed casually in a grey sweater and light blue jeans.

"Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers."
He then compared Ukraine's military operations to the Nazi siege of Leningrad in World War Two:
"Small villages and large cities surrounded by the Ukrainian army which is directly hitting residential areas with the aim of destroying the infrastructure... It sadly reminds me of the events of the Second World War, when German fascist... occupiers surrounded our cities."
Putin indeed has the invasion of WWII in his thoughts, and directly links the current situation to it.  Russia wants all of Ukraine, and probably Belarus too.

A final thought

It is odd to think that during the Cold War, it was the stated policy of the United States to use nuclear weapons to stop any invasion of Europe by the Soviet Union.  The allied conventional forces in Europe were no match for the Soviet conventional forces, so nukes were the only solution, and everyone knew that explicitly. This policy kept the Soviets in check, because it was clear that any incursion would quickly escalate beyond anyone's control.

Now, with the decline of the United States as a world power, the huge draw-down in our nuclear weapon stockpile, and the lack of any resolve whatsoever at our highest levels of power (yes, I am talking about Obama), Russia can pretty much do anything they want, including invading other countries.  And now they are threatening the use of nukes if anyone tries to stop them.

It's like a bad Russian reversal joke:

"In 1960s, if Russia invades, you nuke Russia.  Now, if Russia invades, Russia nukes you!"


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Ethical Thought

I am an employee of a very large company. It is surprising to me that we seem to require ethics officers, ethics training courses, and Code of Conduct agreements to keep us all ethical. For the first 20 years of my career, there were no such things.   I don't understand why it is necessary; I think we were all pretty ethical back then even without all this hoopla.

So what has changed? Have we become so craven and degenerate that we constantly need to be told what is right and wrong -- on an almost case-by-case basis?

Well, maybe. A civilization is based on shared but individually-held beliefs. I am not sure that "anything goes" can be considered a belief to build a civilization on.

Thinking back to the '70s and '80's, the whole concept of right and wrong seems like it was simpler then. And indeed it was. In the past, ethics was based on the concept of malum in se -- things that are inherently wrong or immoral in and of themselves.

But "ethics" today encompasses all of malum prohibitum -- things that are not inherently wrong, but are simply prohibited by rule or statute. And this latter category has grown by leaps and bounds since the 1970's, to the point where no one except an expert can navigate its torturous passages.

We have been told at work that if we don't follow proper procedures, it is an ethics violation, punishable by termination and by being banned from ever working in the industry.  And you can never know all the rules -- they are written in literally hundreds of thousands of pages of online processes and procedures, constantly being updated by an army of writers.

It is probably no coincidence that the number of malum prohibitum items is exploding at the same time that the very existence of malum in se is being questioned in our society. In the absence of malum in se, or without a distinction between the two, malum prohibitum takes on the full self-righteous power of malum in se, and punishments for what used to be small violations of rules or laws escalate accordingly.

I see people at work who used to be motivated to think up creative and efficient ways to get the job done, now saying, "Why bother?  I did my job. The widget may not work properly, but I followed the process, and I don't want to get into trouble."

I am reminded of Spanish explorers in the New World, who were subject to so many arcane and contradictory edicts that nearly all of them were eventually sent back to Spain in chains.

In the larger societal sense too, the explosion of new governmental laws and regulations is at least partially driven by the changes in individual behavior caused by the decline in internally-held malum in se beliefs.  And that is likely driven by a decline in religious beliefs.

Without an internal sense of right and wrong, people simply can't be trusted.   The response of governments and employers is to attempt to define exactly what we can and cannot do.  Everything becomes either prescribed or proscribed.  Motivation goes away.  Creativity goes away.  Freedom goes away.

And then there is this homily:

If the people are good, only a few laws are needed.  If they are bad, no number of laws will be enough.

Good luck out there.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Then and Now - A "Minute Particular"

This could also be seen as one of William Blake's "Minute Particulars".
What does it tell you?

 Policeman 1960

Policeman 2014


The Freedom Generation Gap, and William Blake

Today, I was walking across a quiet parking area that included a small circular driveway/roundabout.  A mother and her high-school-age daughter were in front of me.  The daughter was proceeding to walk along the circumferential sidewalk when the mother boldly stepped out to make a shortcut across the circle.  Eventually, the daughter course-corrected to meet her.

I was struck by this.  Back when I was in my teens, I would have been the one to freely step off the sidewalk, and the older folks would have been more likely to stay on it.

It reminded me of many other similar occurrences with my own children and their friends.  From prudishness in fitness clubs, to acceptance of searches of their belongings, the younger middle-class generation is very happily rule-bound.  They don't ever seem to think of breaking a rule or law, written or unwritten.

When I describe things that I and my generation used to do, the younger folks are typically aghast, saying things like, "Well that was a long time ago, and it is certainly not acceptable in modern times."  I suppose that many of the things that my generation did would put us in various offender registries, if done now.  Of course, ha ha, I didn't do any of that myself.  Sigh, we had some fun... 

Even tiny things like the fact that I used to go up skiing wearing blue jeans, are cause for the tut-tut-ing of youngsters.  "You just can't do that nowadays, Dad."

Looking further back, I am convinced that if Thomas Edison had been born in modern times, he would have been put in federal prison for terrorism, arson, and trespassing long before he could have invented anything.

When he was in his early teens, he appropriated a train car for use as a rolling laboratory.  Phosphorus, along with other now-disapproved substances, burned it to the ground.  And even before that, his involvement with fire, explosives, electric arcs, and chemicals would have brought him immediately to the attention of the authorities today.

The poet, artist, and engraver William Blake (1757-1827) believed that by observing the small things, you could understand the larger things.  He called these insights "Minute Particulars".

In "Auguries of Innocence" he wrote,
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour

And, more importantly to this discussion,

A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State

By looking at small behaviors, such as how a man treats his dog, or how a teenager prefers to stay rooted to the sidewalk, you can chart the future course of the world.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour - See more at:

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Government Owns Most of the Land in the Western US

Back when our country was founded, government ownership of land was considered a bad thing.

When new lands became available west of the original 13 colonies in the 1800's, the Homestead Act was passed to provide an orderly transition to private ownership and development.  But somehow, during the first half of the 20th century, the government decided to transfer all remaining land to various agencies to hold in perpetuity.

Note that the Constitution does not grant the government the power to own land at all.

The magnitude of the problem is shown by this map.

Click image for larger version

I note that the Indian reservations are shown, but although they are officially government land, recent case law and other rulings have made them sovereign -- at least to an extent.

So why does the government own most of the land in the western states?  Why should they impoverish the western states (and not the eastern, mid-western, and southern states) by holding nearly all of their mineral and grazing rights?

No wonder land costs so much in the west and southwest where I want to retire.  The government owns nearly all of it west of the front range of the Rocky Mountains except for cities, strips along roads, and agricultural areas that were settled before the feds started grabbing.

They could sell it all off over the next 10 years, and easily pay off the national debt.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Busy Day at the Cruise Port on St. Maarten

Quite the lineup of ships, including one of the two largest cruise ships in the world at the St. Maarten cruise port on January 27th, 2011.
  • At the left back is the MSC Fantasia Poesia-- 137936 GT/3900 passengers
  • To its right is P&O Oceana -- 77499 GT/2272 passengers
  • At the left front is Aida Luna --  69203 GT/2100 passengers
  • To its right is the P&O Azura -- 115055 GT/3096 passengers
  • The huge one is Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas -- 225282 GT/6296 passengers
  • To its right is Celebrity Solstice -- 122000 GT/2850 passengers
 Click image for huge version.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Federal Budget Chart Showing the Sequester Savings

Using data from the Congressional Budget Office, (Summary Table 1 and Table 1-7), anyone can easily create the following chart showing how the Sequester affects the Federal budget this year and for future years.

Federal Budget Chart Showing the Sequester Savings

Hmmm…. Somehow it doesn't look like a significant cut.

Why isn't this chart the lead story on every news site with the headline, "Sequester Has Nearly Zero Effect"?

One of the rules of politics is that when forced to make budget cuts, you should always cut the most vital things first -- thus punishing the populace and their representatives for even suggesting it.

Mr. O is very good at this; he was trained in Chicago by the best political machine the world has ever known. So he immediately stated that the "choices of Republicans in Congress" will force massive cuts in Social Security and Medicare, as well as police, education, and defense.

But of course there will be no cuts for the $250 million in payments to our "friends" in Egypt, or thousands of new uniforms for the TSA, or uncountable other areas of pure waste and cronyism.

Other Democrats echo the new party line that the Sequester shows the Republicans are "intent on dismantling the government of the United States". (See Robert Reich's blog, and around 60 separate Huffington Post pieces of propaganda articles.)

Ah, if only it were true.

But government spending in 2013 will still be more than 2012 even with the sequester, and is projected to grow out of control as far as we can see into the future.

The sequester "reduction" is absolutely meaningless.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Where are the Carriers Now? December 26, 2012 Map of US Naval Forces (Open Source Data)

Update 2012-12-26

Here is the 26 December 2012 report on US Aircraft Carrier and Naval Force Deployments from Stratfor.  Note that most naval groups are in home port for Christmas.

  click image for a larger version

Click here for a description at Stratfor. While Stratfor is a subscription service, they will provide a free article if you give them your email address. 

"The Naval Update Map shows an approximation of the current locations of U.S. Carrier Strike Groups and Amphibious Ready Groups, based on available open-source information. No classified or operationally sensitive information is included in this weekly update."

 I strongly recommend Stratfor as a news source for in-depth analysis of geopolitical events.