Category Archives: Deep Thoughts

Deep thoughts, omphaloskepsis, and other random musings.

Animal’s Daily Personal Heroes News

Dr. Sowell.

Here’s a great piece on one of my personal heroes, Dr. Thomas Sowell.  What a remarkable man, and what an inspiring life!  Excerpt:

Measured by his contributions to economics, political theory, and intellectual history, Thomas Sowell ranks among the towering intellects of our time. Yet, rare among such thinkers, Sowell manages never to provoke, in the reader, the feeling of being towered over. As Kevin Williamson observed, Sowell is “that rarest of things among serious academics: plainspoken.” From 1991 until 2016, his nationally syndicated column set the bar for clear writing, though the topics he covered were often complex. “Too many academics write as if plain English is beneath their dignity,” Sowell once said, “and some seem to regard logic as an unconstitutional infringement of their freedom of speech.” If academics birth needlessly complex prose, editors too often midwife it. An editor, Sowell once quipped, would probably have changed Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be, that is the question” to something awful, like “The issue is one of existence versus non-existence.”

Consider Sowell’s clear, brief explanation of the economic idea of “scarcity.” “What does ‘scarce’ mean?” he asks in his layman’s textbook, Basic Economics. “It means that what everybody wants adds up to more than there is.” Not only is pointless complexity absent from Sowell’s prose; so is the first-person perspective. The words “I” or “me” scarcely show up in his 30-odd books, but for his memoir, A Personal Odyssey.

To his critics, Sowell’s writing style is severe. But to his fan base—which includes figures as different as Steven Pinker and Kanye West—it’s a refreshing break from the self-absorbed drivel that frequently passes for cultural commentary nowadays. Pinker, a Harvard psychologist and leading public intellectual, named Sowell the most underrated writer in history. West, for his part, tweeted out a handful of Sowell quotes to millions of followers in 2018.

I’ve been an admirer of Dr. Sowell for years.  While I was studying economics as part of my MBA work, at my instructor’s recommendation I read Dr. Sowell’s Basic Economics, and then began seeking out more of his work.  Since then I have read millions of words from the mind of this great man, and have been more and more impressed by his history, his intellect, his grasp of good and bad policy, and his uncanny ability to clearly and simply explain complicated subjects – like economics.

One of the things I admire the most about Thomas Sowell is his personal story; the son of sharecroppers, growing up in the Jim Crow South, he rose and educated himself driven by the power of his personal will.  And his own statement on those achievements is simple; if he can do it, others can as well.

Dr. Sowell once famously said:

Imagine a political system so radical as to promise to move more of the poorest 20% of the population into the richest 20% than remain in the poorest bracket within the decade? You don’t need to imagine it. It’s called the United States of America.

Bravo, sir.

Go, then, and read the whole thing.  Read Basic Economics. Read anything you can find my Dr. Sowell.  You’ll be richer for it.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

I got a kick out of this:  Fellow blogger, shooter and sci-fi writer Larry Correia over at Monster Hunter Nation had this to say about “peaceful protesters” who wondered when law-abiding gun owners were going to come to their aid.  Excerpt:

A friend of mine posted about seeing this: “Where are all you gun owners now that the federal government and police are attacking citizens in the streets?? Now that the National Guard is out oppressing citizens? I thought this was the moment you’re waiting for? So why aren’t you out there fighting them with your guns? You’re nothing but a bunch of fucking cowards!”

My response was the GIF of Nelson Muntz going HA HA.  😀

But I’ve seen this sentiment a lot too over the last few days, so please if you are so incredibly fucking dumb that you are actually wondering why America’s gun culture aren’t commuting into the democrat cities you have banned us from in order to get into gun fights with the National Guard on your behalf, allow me to elaborate.

Hypothetical Liberal “Ally” Who Lives in the Suburbs Which Aren’t On Fire – “Hey, gun owners! Here is some civil unrest! Why won’t you come and help us?”
Snort. Fuck off. 😀
Go, then, and read it all.  It’s one of the best things you’ll read this week.

I couldn’t agree more.  Larry, if you’re ever in the Denver area, reach out so I can buy you a beer (or the beverage of your choice.)

In the first place, about the “peaceful protestors” of Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Seattle and Portland I can confidently say two things:

  1. These children are the useful idiots of the leftist movement in the country right now.  Most of the morons on the street don’t know anything; they are almost universally upper-middle class white kids.  They think that when the “revolution” comes, they’ll be the ones in charge, but if you look at the history of socialist revolutions, the useful idiots almost always end up against the wall, looking at rifles from the wrong end.
  2. Were we, as law-abiding gun owners, for some reason to join these shitheads and help them, they’d turn on us in a moment once the battle was won.  How do I know?  Because they have been fucking telling us so for the last few decades.

Here’s the thing about these “protestors.”  They are, almost without exception, parasites on the society they criticize.  They toil not, neither do they spin.  And unlike the lilies of the field referred to in this parable, they don’t even pretty up the landscape; just the opposite.

And they openly deride us, the productive members of society, who produce their clothes and cell phones and the food they eat.  We do toil and spin, and they don’t seem to realize that in the grand scheme of things, they need us, but we don’t need them.

So, as far as I’m concerned, these useful idiots can take a long running start and go fuck themselves.  I wouldn’t spit on them if they were on fire.  As Larry states:

Liberal “allies” are quick to call gun nuts the bad guys, but we’re not trying to disarm people. We want everybody to be able to defend themselves. It’s a common thing to see some meme on the internet, showing a black family shooting or posing with their guns, with some caption like “bet this offends the NRA”, which is liberal projection, because in reality in my social circles everybody is like, “fuck yeah, good for them”. And the harshest complaints I’ve seen have been about trigger finger discipline or lack of eye protection.
My side isn’t the one that wants the state to have a monopoly on force. We know the 2nd is for everybody, regardless of skin color or where you live. You fuckers are the ones who keep declaring we can’t fight the government with AR-15s because they have tanks and nukes, but then you bumbling fuckheads try it by throwing rocks?

So not only no, but hell no.

Bravo, sir.  Bravo.

Rule Five What Makes A Nation Friday

What makes a nation?

A nation is a large body of people united by common descent, history, culture, or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory.  That’s a pretty good working definition.  But what makes a nation last?  Let’s kick that around some.

There are four things a nation has to have to remain a nation:

  • Commonality
  • Cohesion
  • Trust
  • Liberty

Now let’s take a look at each of those and apply them to the United States today, now, in July of 2020.

Commonality

We’ve always been a nation built of parts.  But the national motto, E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One) no longer seems to apply.  Our nation is fractured along partisan lines.  As recently as the Eighties, the two major political parties could find common ground on at least a few issues, but today?

Refusal to accept the outcomes of elections is now the order of the day.  The political Left is particularly to blame; if they can’t achieve goals through the usual means, they resort to judge-shopping or, recently, outright intimidation and violence.  As recently as the Eighties, we were all Americans.  Now there are voices calling not to reform our nation, but to tear it down – and some of them are in Congress.

Cohesion

The United States is probably more fractured than it has been at any time since 1865.  The divide then was along geographical lines, North v. South; now the divide is largely along cultural lines, urban v. suburban/rural.

And, yes, some of this is along racial lines as well.  Major cities tend to be more “diverse” in skin tone, although not so much in ideology.  Small towns and rural areas tend to be populated by people of pallor.  And there is now a distinct tendency for urban denizens to automatically assume “racism” on the part of the small-town/rural dwellers, even though the term “racist” has been so over-used as to be meaningless; any disagreement, now, with radical progressive viewpoints is labeled as “racist,” even as nobody points out the actual racism involved in viewing whites as fundamentally flawed and evil, due not to the content of their character, but rather the color of their skin.

Trust

I remember when I was a young man in the Seventies and Eighties, I operated on the assumption that almost everyone I met was probably a pretty decent person, and tended to view strangers as friends I hadn’t met yet.  That may have been my rural farm-boy upbringing, and probably involved a little naivete even then.

Now, though?

I’ve always been more comfortable out in the boonies than in a city.  But now our major cities are descending into chaos.  I’m not just talking about riots and arson; look at the feces-laden, discarded-needle messes that San Francisco and Los Angeles have descended into.   People venture into some of these places at their peril, because a plurality of the people in those cities, based on all available evidence, are not decent people, and should probably be avoided.

Liberty

Are you kidding?

We now live in a country where you have to beg permission from the government to cut someone’s hair or paint their nails.

Various levels of government confiscate a portion of our income every year with the threat of force (try not paying your taxes, and see how long it is before they send men with guns out looking for you.)  The average American now labors until sometime in April every year just to pay taxes.

It has even come to the point where, in many states, you have to beg the government for permission to exercise a Constitutionally defined right.  And I’m not talking just about the Second Amendment, but increasingly in the post-Kung Flu world, even the First.

And So:

Someone once said that a house divided against itself cannot stand.  Our house is becoming increasingly divided, to the point where these four qualities, the ones that make a nation, no longer apply.

As I’ve said before and will say again, I’m hoping I don’t live to see the whole thing come apart.  I’m afraid my children and grandchildren will.  And, after the events of this year, I’m afraid I will as well.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

The week after a three-day weekend is always a contentious one, isn’t it?  I’ve been saying for years that you can’t take a vacation without paying for it one way or another, as our recent week at the Redneck Riviera once more proved.  But geeze, it would be nice to not get drilled the week after a three-day weekend that supposedly the whole company took off.

But enough of that.  You didn’t come here to read my whining about my workload, you came for news.  And so:

On To the Links!

Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.

If America is so racist, why are there so many fake “hate crimes?”

Is America at a point of no return?  Honestly, I think we passed that point along about 1850.

Bye-bye WHO.   We hardly knew ye.  I once had to study up on WHO requirements for pharmaceutical manufacturers to prepare for an audit I was brought in to do on a plant in South Africa.  The WHO “guidelines” were nearly incomprehensible; you could interpret them to mean almost anything.  My colleague and I pretty much ignored the WHO guidelines and audited against ISO instead.

Coming soon to a major American city near you!

Lesson:  Don’t play in the street.

RIP Charlie Daniels.  His song Long Haired Country Boy formed a small part of my youthful arc in favor of liberty:

‘Cause I ain’t asking nobody for nothin’
If I cant get it on my own
If you don’t like the way I’m livin’
You just leave this long-haired country boy alone

Good for Terry Crews!   A voice of reason in the wilderness.
This Week’s Idiots:

This idiot is running for President.  Supposedly.  Mind you, I’m 99.997% certain he’s just taking a dump.

Paging Dr. Darwin, Dr. Charles Darwin.

ABC News is apparently staffed with idiots.

Bill De Blasio is an idiot.

With that said…

Work beckons.

That’s not altogether a bad thing, mind  you.  Not only do we have bills that must be paid, at least my work 1) pays well and b) is mind-work rather than back-work.  In my life I’ve done plenty of both, and I prefer mind-work.  But I’m not above back-work if that’s what is necessary to keep a roof over our heads; I’ve hammered shingles on roofs before, and am not above doing it again if that’s what needs to happen to maintain hearth and home.

It’s called taking responsibility.  You know.  As a man does.

For now, though, the keyboard calls.  More tomorrow.

Rule Five Data and Facts Friday

Facts are pesky, persistent things.  Coleman Hughes has examined some facts, and ended up changing his mind on some things, to his credit.  Excerpt:

Two things changed my mind: stories and data.

First, the stories. Each story in this paragraph involves a police officer killing an unarmed white person. (To demonstrate how commonly this happens, I have taken all of them from a single year, 2015, chosen at random). Timothy Smith was killed by a police officer who mistakenly thought he was reaching into his waistband to grab a gun; the shooting was ruled justified. William Lemmon was killed after he allegedly failed to show his hands upon request; the shooting was ruled justified. Ryan Bolinger was shot dead by a cop who said he was moving strangely and walking toward her; the shooting was ruled justified. Derek Cruice was shot in the face after he opened the door for police officers serving a warrant for a drug arrest; the cops recovered marijuana from the property, and the shooting was ruled justified. Daniel Elrod robbed a dollar store, and, when confronted by police, allegedly failed to raise his hands upon request (though his widow, who witnessed the event, insists otherwise); he was shot dead. No criminal charges were filed. Ralph Willis was shot dead when officers mistakenly thought that he was reaching for a gun. David Cassick was shot twice in the back by a police officer while lying face down on the ground. Six-year-old Jeremy Mardis was killed by a police officer while sitting in the passenger seat of a car; the officer’s intended target was Jeremy’s father, who was sitting in the driver’s seat with his hands raised out the window. Autumn Steele was shot dead when a police officer, startled by her German shepherd, immediately fired his weapon at the animal, catching her in the crossfire. Shortly after he killed her, bodycam footage revealed the officer’s despair: “I’m f—— going to prison,” he says. The officer was not disciplined.

For brevity’s sake, I will stop here. But the list goes on.

And:

You might agree that the police kill plenty of unarmed white people, but object that they are more likely to kill unarmed black people, relative to their share of the population. That’s where the data comes in. The objection is true as far as it goes; but it’s also misleading. To demonstrate the existence of a racial bias, it’s not enough to cite the fact that black people comprise 14 percent of the population but about 35 percent of unarmed Americans shot dead by police. (By that logic, you could prove that police shootings were extremely sexist by pointing out that men comprise 50 percent of the population but 93 percent of unarmed Americans shot by cops.)

Instead, you must do what all good social scientists do: control for confounding variables to isolate the effect that one variable has upon another (in this case, the effect of a suspect’s race on a cop’s decision to pull the trigger). At least four careful studies have done this—one by Harvard economist Roland Fryer, one by a group of public-health researchers, one by economist Sendhil Mullainathan, and one by David Johnson, et al. None of these studies has found a racial bias in deadly shootings. Of course, that hardly settles the issue for all time; as always, more research is needed. But given the studies already done, it seems unlikely that future work will uncover anything close to the amount of racial bias that BLM protesters in America and around the world believe exists.

It’s nice to see someone discussing this issue that’s willing to use reason instead of emotion.  It’s also rather refreshing to see someone that can change their mind when confronted by facts; that’s something we all find difficult at times.  I’m certainly no exception.

Speaking of facts:  As a biologist the entire concept of “race” in humans puzzles me a little.  Well, more than a little.  Humans – as in our species, Homo sapiens – once went through a population bottleneck, probably in the Middle Paleolithic; for thousands of years there may well have been fewer H. sapiens on the earth than their are orangutans today, maybe as few as 2,000.  Why do I mention this?  Because humans have, as large mammals go, very little genetic diversity.  We have less genetic diversity than any of the great apes; less than chimps, less than bonobos, less than gorillas.

So why do the disparities in populations, in one nation, like those described above, still persist?

There’s an obvious answer:  These aren’t racial differences, at least not as biologists understand this rather nebulous term.  These are cultural differences.  In the last few decades there has been a distinct tendency in our major cities to adopt what I can only describe as a toxic urban “thug” culture, one that sneers at education, glorifies violence, prompts young men to father children and not support them, to be violent and misogynist; this culture also glorifies substance use and the criminal activity that surrounds the black market of drugs.

That’s the problem.  What’s the solution?

I can think of a few:

  1. Eliminate the “war on drugs” and the enormously profitable black market that results from it.  This won’t solve the cultural issues around drug abuse, but it will go a long ways towards drying up all the violence around gaining and controlling drug-sale turf.
  2. Let urban parents send their kids to better schools.  The teacher’s unions and their Democrat allies in Congress and state legislatures have squashed charter schools and voucher programs at every opportunity, while urban school districts lurch from failure to failure.  Let the parents, not politicians, choose what’s best for their kids.
  3. Recognize that law-abiding urban citizens have the same right to self-defense, and the arms that make that possible, as citizens living in friendlier jurisdictions.  Meanwhile, provide harsh penalties – and enforce those penalties – for those who use weapons in acts of violence.

The unfortunate police interactions we’ve seen lately are a symptom, not a cause.  Even in the most libertarian society, there are behaviors that cannot be tolerated; we should stop tolerating them.  The strange, violent “thug” culture of our inner cities is one of these.

Rule Five Berkeley Friday

This came out last week, but I needed a few days to properly digest it.  My reaction?  This is long overdue.  Excerpt:

The vast majority of violence visited on the black community is committed by black people. There are virtually no marches for these invisible victims, no public silences, no heartfelt letters from the UC regents, deans, and departmental heads. The message is clear: Black lives only matter when whites take them. Black violence is expected and insoluble, while white violence requires explanation and demands solution.

Please look into your hearts and see how monstrously bigoted this formulation truly is. No discussion is permitted for non-black victims of black violence, who proportionally outnumber black victims of non-black violence. This is especially bitter in the Bay Area, where Asian victimization by black assailants has reached epidemic proportions, to the point that the SF police chief has advised Asians to stop hanging good-luck charms on their doors, as this attracts the attention of (overwhelmingly black) home invaders. Home invaders like George Floyd.

For this actual, lived, physically experienced reality of violence in the USA, there are no marches, no tearful emails from departmental heads, no support from McDonald’s and Wal-Mart. For the History department, our silence is not a mere abrogation of our duty to shed light on the truth: it is a rejection of it.

And speaking of George Floyd, here’s a reality check:

As a final point, our university and department has made multiple statements celebrating and eulogizing George Floyd. Floyd was a multiple felon who once held a pregnant black woman at gunpoint. He broke into her home with a gang of men and pointed a gun at her pregnant stomach. He terrorized the women in his community. He sired and abandoned multiple children, playing no part in their support or upbringing, failing one of the most basic tests of decency for a human being. He was a drug-addict and sometime drug-dealer, a swindler who preyed upon his honest and hard-working neighbors. And yet, the regents of UC and the historians of the UCB History department are celebrating this violent criminal, elevating his name to virtual sainthood. A man who hurt women. A man who hurt black women. With the full collaboration of the UCB history department, corporate America, most mainstream media outlets, and some of the wealthiest and most privileged opinion-shaping elites of the USA, he has become a culture hero, buried in a golden casket, his (recognized) family showered with gifts and praise.

Americans are being socially pressured into kneeling for this violent, abusive misogynist. A generation of black men are being coerced into identifying with George Floyd, the absolute worst specimen of our race and species. I’m ashamed of my department. I would say that I’m ashamed of both of you, but perhaps you agree with me, and are simply afraid, as I am, of the backlash of speaking the truth. It’s hard to know what kneeling means, when you have to kneel to keep your job.

Read the whole thing; it’s powerful stuff.

Unfortunately it will also be water off a duck’s back to the people at whom it is aimed.  The Left’s conquest of the legacy media and our educational institutions has been at least a couple of generations in the making, and it would take that long to undo if we started today.  And it won’t start today.  People on the political Right (and also minarchist libertarians, like me, who don’t quite fit on the generally accepted political spectrum) tend not to go into these fields, I suppose because we prefer honest work.

But holy shit, when did honesty stop being a virtue?  When did we start accepting liars as long as they advance a “cause?”  When did we start accepting blatant, transparent lies (Russian collusion!) as long as they advance The Side?

The article here linked concludes:

I condemn the manner of George Floyd’s death and join you in calling for greater police accountability and police reform. However, I will not pretend that George Floyd was anything other than a violent misogynist, a brutal man who met a predictably brutal end. I also want to protect the practice of history. Cleo is no grovelling handmaiden to politicians and corporations. Like us, she is free.

Not any more.  The PC mob has take over.  Cleo has been shackled, and we are all headed into dangerous times.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks once again to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, Bacon Time and Whores and Ale for the Rule Five links!

More relevant now than ever:  The Roof Koreans of 1992.  These brave people have evidently been largely forgotten by today’s rioters, but we could sure see a resurgence of this sort of thing if the current unrest continues.  Excerpt:

The riots of the spring of 2020 are far from without precedent in the United States. Indeed, they seem to happen once a generation at least. The 1992 Los Angeles Riots are such an example of these “generational riots.” And while most people know about the riots, less known – though quite well known at the time – were the phenomenon of the so-called “Roof Koreans.”

The Roof Koreans were spontaneous self-defense forces organized by the Korean community of Los Angeles, primarily centered in Koreatown, in response to violent and frequently racist attacks on their communities and businesses by primarily black looters and rioters during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992. Despite their best efforts, over 2,200 Korean-owned businesses were looted or burned to the ground during the riots. It is chilling to imagine how many would have suffered the same fate had the Koreans not been armed.

Standing on the rooftops of Koreatown shops they and their families owned, clad not in body armor or tactical gear, but instead dressed like someone’s nerdy dad, often smoking cigarettes, but always on alert, the Roof Koreans provide a stirring example of how free Americans of all races can defend their own communities without relying upon outside help.

The Koreans of Los Angeles were the ultimate marginalized minority group. They were subject to discrimination and often victimized by the black community of the city. Due to language barriers and other factors, they lacked the political clout of other minority groups, such as the large Mexican community of Los Angeles County. This in spite of their clear economic success in the city beginning in the 1970s and 80s.

Roof Koreans.

This, folks, is the Second Amendment in action.  When we can’t rely on civil law enforcement, we have to rely on ourselves.  Forget the whole idiotic “abolish the police” movement.  The police in some of these jurisdictions are abolishing themselves.  The L.A. Korean community did just that in 1992, and I have little doubt they’d do it again.

Apparently, today, in several of our major cities, anyone to the right of Leon Trotsky is “marginalized.”  And apparently, today, in several of our major cities, a “marginalized” community is fair game for mayhem and looting.

The “roof Koreans” in 1992 knew how to deal with that.  Today, how many folks will do the same?   And what will be the result?

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, Bacon Time and Whores and Ale for the Rule Five links, and to our pals over at The Daley Gator for the blogroll link!

Townhall’s Derek Hunter had an interesting piece yesterday, but I think he missed a few salient points.  Selected excerpts, with my comments, follow:

Wouldn’t you think that, after generations of complaining about the “school to prison pipeline,” someone should look into the school part? If there’s really this pipeline feeding minority children into prisons, rather than letting people who’ve broken the law out of prison, maybe reform the institutions feeding them into prisons in the first place?

Of course, to do that you’d have to actually want to educate minority children so they could improve their lives on their own. With complete Democratic Party control for 50 to 60 years in most of these areas, you’d think that thought would have occurred to someone. It has, obviously, but it hasn’t resulted in action for some weird reason.

In fact, the best thing to happen to kids trapped in poor-performing schools – charter schools – are in the crosshairs of the Democratic Party; set for sacrifice on the altar of campaign contributions from teachers’ unions. The very same people who’ve failed to educate kids are sinking the lifeboats. Isn’t that a problem? Of course, it is.

Of course, there’s a far better solution than charter schools, although they are a step in the right direction.  But the end goal should be to eliminate government involvement in education altogether.  Eliminate government schools and the taxes that fund them, and let a thousand flowers bloom.  Will some parents choose to send their kids to substandard schools that teach hyper-PC liberal orthodoxy or religious nutballery over actual education in trades, arts and sciences?  Sure.  Will those kids have marketable skills once their education is complete?  Probably not.  Is it my responsibility to subsidize the mistakes of those parents?  No.

Solutions aren’t the Democrats’ objective. What does it say about a party that benefits more from the escalation of a problem than its solution? Again, I’m just asking questions. I would like to have a serious conversation, as I suspect many of you Democrats who mainly vote for Democrats because you’ve always voted for Democrats or you think Republicans are somehow the problem, would like to as well.

While I understand that Mr. Hunter is engaging in a bit of Socratic dialogue here, I can’t see the value in asking questions to which we already know the answers.  The fact that the political left, and statists in general, profit more from the escalation of a problem than its solution, is a feature, not a bug.  Both parties do it.  Both sides of the political spectrum engage in it, because, if you aren’t part of the solution, there’s big money to be made in prolonging the problem.

The people you are addressing don’t want a “conversation,” or a “dialogue,” Mr. Hunter, as I’m sure you know very well.  They want to lecture you, browbeat you, force you to submit; they have no compunction about using force, and they have no intention of allowing you to respond.  And if these people seize governmental control, then free discourse as we know it has ended.

Here’s a better answer:  Take a meat axe to the size and power of government.  Strip these assholes of their power.  We’re Americans, dammit; most of us are perfectly capable of managing our own lives.  And if an angry mob shows up on the street in front of our businesses, well, most of us know the answer to that as well.

Rule Five 1776 Friday V

For the past few weeks RealClearPublicAffairs has been running what they are calling the 1776 series.  I recommend reading them all.  Here’s the description:

The 1776 Series is a collection of original essays that explain the foundational themes of the American experience. Commissioned from distinguished historians and scholars, these essays contribute to the broader goal of the American Civics project: providing an education in the principles and practices that every patriotic citizen should know.

This week I’ll be providing some commentary on the final issue of this series, Self-Government, the American Way, by Will Morrisey.  Excerpts follow, with my comments:

After winning the independence they had declared in 1776, Americans had to prove that they could sustain self-government in peace. They’d governed themselves already, as colonists, but now the British government no longer protected them from the other European powers, and indeed remained a potential enemy of the new country. It’s easy for us today to wonder why American statesmen from Washington to Lincoln seemed obsessed with building and sustaining “the Union,” or why President Jefferson so readily bent his constitutional scruples to purchase Louisiana from Napoleon to extend it. But to Americans then, looking at maps of North America, seeing their republic surrounded by hostile empires and nations whose rulers viewed republicanism with fear and contempt, maintaining the Union meant survival—survival not just of their way of life but of their very lives.

It’s important to note that the formation of the American republic was an existential threat to kings, emperors, dictators and despots all over the world.  Not only was there now a nation with government by the people, of the people, for the people, it was a nation whose governing documents included strict prohibitions against its interfering with the fundamental natural rights of its citizens.

To understand American self-government, one should begin with the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  These rights stand at the center of republicanism considered as an activity of self-government. They limit the power of Congress, the branch of the federal government charged with legislating. They prevent Congress from legislating republicanism out of existence.

As I’ve pointed out before in discussing other articles in this series, the first five words of the first amendment in the Bill of Rights is key and cannot be emphasized enough:

Congress Shall Make No Law.

No law, as I’ve said, means no damn law.  But during the Kung Flu crisis, that didn’t stop  state governors and local pols and bureaucrats from trying all manner of power grabs; many of those were challenged in court, many were protested with vigor by the citizens, but court cases take time.

Freedom of speech and of the press must not be prohibited—they cannot even be abridged by Congress. Here, we must know what the founding generation meant by such a formula: freedom of political speech and publishing. Slander, libel, and obscenity were universally banned by state and local law, and could potentially be banned by federal law, too. Republican government requires discussion and deliberation by the sovereign people. How else could citizens make their sovereignty effective? This is why the Preamble to the Constitution begins with “We, the People of the United States.”

Now, today, here’s the question:  Have we been successful, as citizens, in making our sovereignty effective?

I’d argue that today we can only say “somewhat.”

Congress routinely runs roughshod over the Bill of Rights.  The several states, maybe even more so.  During the earlier part of the Moo Goo Gai Panic, the Governor of New Jersey – the chief executive of one of the fifty states – replied to an interviewer that the Bill of Rights was “…above his pay grade.”  What an idiotic reply!  The Bill of Rights is not above anyone’s “pay grade,” it is a compendium of our natural rights with which no pol or bureaucrat at any level of government may legally interfere – a part of the Constitution which this stupid ass took an oath to support and defend!

The essay and the series concludes (emphasis added by me):

It remains for American citizens to live in the structure the Founders designed by respecting its features, a respect that can only be maintained by what one Founder called “a moral and religious people”—which is to say, a people who perpetuate the American effort at self-government in their private, civil, and political lives.

That last sentence, that’s the part that scares me.  More and more, I fear, more Americans are lured away from the “American effort at self-government” by the siren song of Free Shit, and more and more, the Bill of Rights is forgotten.