Contact Me

About RightWing NutHouse

Site Stats

blog radio

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More


(Romeo St. Martin of Politics Watch-Canada)

"The epitome of a blogging orgasm"
(Cao of Cao's Blog)

"Rick Moran is one of the finest essayists in the blogosphere. ‘Nuff said. "
(Dave Schuler of The Glittering Eye)

October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004



Blacksmiths of Lebanon
Blogs of War
Classical Values
Cold Fury
Diggers Realm
Neocon News
Ravenwood’s Universe
Six Meat Buffet
The Conservative Cat






















‘Unleash’ Palin? Get Real






"24" (96)
Bird Flu (5)
Blogging (198)
Books (10)
Caucasus (1)
Cindy Sheehan (13)
Decision '08 (288)
Election '06 (7)
Ethics (172)
Financial Crisis (8)
FRED! (28)
General (378)
GOP Reform (22)
Government (123)
History (166)
Homeland Security (8)
Iran (81)
Katrina Timeline (4)
Lebanon (8)
Marvin Moonbat (14)
Media (184)
Middle East (134)
Moonbats (80)
Obama-Rezko (14)
Olympics (5)
Open House (1)
Palin (5)
PJ Media (37)
Politics (649)
Presidential Debates (7)
RNC (1)
S-CHIP (1)
Sarah Palin (1)
Science (45)
Space (21)
Sports (2)
Supreme Court (24)
Technology (1)
The Caucasus (1)
The Law (14)
The Long War (7)
The Rick Moran Show (127)
War on Terror (330)
Who is Mr. Hsu? (7)
Wide Awakes Radio (8)


Admin Login


Design by:

Hosted by:

Powered by:

Pardon the slow loading site. My little hosting company is trying to deal with the Instalanche and Hot Air explosion as well as links from the rest of you.  

Glenn Reynolds received an email yesterday that he termed “depressing.” Upon reading it, I agree with him.

The correspondent starts by identifying himself as a libertarian who supported George Bush until “Bush fatigue” set in recently. But what depressed Reynolds (and what should concern all of us) is how this gentleman would react to an Obama presidency:

This is surely small of me, but if Obama wins, I plan on giving him as much of a chance as the Democrats gave George Bush. I will gleefully forward every paranoid anti-Obama rumor that I see, along with YouTube footage of his verbal missteps. I will laugh and email heinous anti-Obama photoshop jobs, and maybe even learn photoshop myself to create some. I’ll buy anti-Obama books, and maybe even a “Not My President” t-shirt. I’m sure that the mainstream bookstores won’t carry them, but I’ll be on the lookout for anti-Obama calendars and stuff like that. I will not wish America harm, and if the country is hurt (economically, militarily, or diplomatically) I will truly mourn. But i will also take some solace that it occurred under Obama’s watch, and will find every reason to blame him personally and fan the flames.

Obama’s thuggish behavior thus far in this election cycle – squashing free speech, declaring any criticism of his policies to be “racist” (a word that happily carries little weight with sensible people these days), associating with the likes of Ayers, Wright, and ACORN - suggests that I won’t have to scrape for reasons to really viscerally dislike Obama and his administration. And even if he wins, his campaign’s “get out the vote fraud” activities are enough to provide people like me with a large degree of “plausible deniability” as to whether he is actually legitimately the president.

I’ve seen a President that I am generally-inclined to like get crapped on for eight years, and I’ve seen McCain and Palin (honorable people both, despite policy differences I may have with them) get crapped on through this election season. If the Democrats think that a President Obama is going to get some sort of honeymoon from the folks who didn’t vote for him, as a wise man once said: heh.

Civics 101 people; the guy who gets the most votes, wins.

You can talk about “voter fraud” and “stealing elections” all you want but the fact remains that if Obama is certified by the electoral college and the House of Representatives as President of the United States, that ends the discussion in our republic. There is no more important aspect of democracy than the minority accepting the will of the majority. The constitution gives the minority certain protections against getting steamrolled by the majority. But it doesn’t give the minority the right to torpedo the legitimacy of the winner.

This is more than a question of “fair play” or being a “sore loser.” The Constitution says we have only one president at a time. Given the importance of that office, it is stark raving lunacy to seek to destroy the man occupying it.

The fact that the Democrats and the left have acted like 2 year olds the last 8 years doesn’t mean that if Obama is elected we should throw the same infantile tantrums and look for ghosts in the machine – or accuse the opposition of foul play without a shred of physical proof, only the paranoid imaginings whipped up by people who knew exactly what they were doing – undermining the legitimacy of the elected leader of the United States government.

I can certainly understand the desire given voice by Reynolds correspondent. There would be something hugely satisfying in giving back to the left in spades what they have done to Bush and the Republicans for the last 8 years. But think about it for a minute. Our country is in a helluva fix – the worst since I’ve been alive and probably the worst since the eve of the great depression. The only comparable crisis in my lifetime is the one faced by Reagan when he came into office.

Reagan’s challenge was more a crisis of confidence than anything really systemically wrong. He restored that confidence. And he did it with the help of loyal, patriotic Democrats. Not just the 70 or so “Boll Weevils” who actually voted with Reagan on occasion in order to get his program through Congress. Speaker Tip O’Neil could have thrown a huge monkey wrench into the early efforts of Reagan to cut taxes and reduce spending. But he didn’t. To his eternal credit, O’Neil chose to fight for his principles while giving Reagan’s program a chance in Congress.

The two adversaries fought tooth and nail for every vote in the House (the GOP controlled the Senate at the time). The played hardball politics with a zest that seems to be missing in these days of obstructionism and spiteful rhetoric. In the end, despite O’Neil’s best efforts, he lost fair and square – a point he deliberately made in his televised call of congratulations to Reagan in the aftermath of the vote.

The very liberal O’Neil – as tough a political brawler as you’ll find anywhere – was also an American first and a Democrat second. He was a politician from the old school who accepted Reagan’s election as a matter of course. It never occurred to him to try and delegitimize the only president he had. The two men liked each other personally but despised each other’s politics. And yet, they were able to work together to bring America back from a deep, dark place that threatened our future.

This is how it should be. And whether Obama wins – if he wins – by one vote or millions shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if you believe the reason he won was because the press was in the tank for him, or ACORN cheated, or McCain didn’t get a fair shake, or any other legitimate or illegitimate reason you can think of. At the very least, Barack Obama will deserve our acknowledgement that he is the legitimate elected president of the United States.

That doesn’t mean we have to slavishly follow him or join his cult like groupies. What it means is that where what he proposes to do is reasonable and doesn’t conflict with our principles, he should expect our support. It means that we don’t have to delegitimize his presidency to oppose him either. People of good will and good conscience can disagree without tearing each other and the country apart. And in this day and age, such an outcome would be unbearable.

An Obama election will mean changes – not all of them for the better. So be it. We will fight like hell against what we believe to be wrong. But we not do it by trying to delegitimize the elected president. Get personal, sure. Satirize and make fun of him, absolutely. Argue on the merits, most definitely.

But when push comes to shove and crisis erupts somewhere in the world involving American interests – and no president in recent memory has escaped such a challenge – I plan on backing my president’s play. I may give voice to skepticism about the path he chooses. This is our right and duty.

But I will not wish that he fail nor will I work to see that he does. The fact that I even have to mention this shows how foreign an idea this is to both the right and the left. The unbalanced hatred on the right directed against President Clinton was followed up by the even kookier and dangerous rage by the left against Bush. Perhaps its time for all of us to grow up a little and start acting like adults where the survival of our republic depends on the two sides not trying to eye-gouge their way to dominance.

This may not be self-evident to some of you younger readers but this was the America I grew up in and which existed until about 20 years ago. Politics was just as raucous a game then. There was no pussyfooting. It was a game played for keeps and played to the hilt. There was little love lost personally or professionally between the two sides.

But there was also a recognition that the will of the majority was, in the end, respected and granted legitimacy. This included recognizing that there was only one president and that even if we disagreed with him, that didn’t mean he was an impostor. The fact that the 2000 election was so close (and the results confirmed by a consortium of independent media who took the time to recount the Florida votes several different ways proving that Bush did indeed win the state) no doubt was frustrating for the losers. But the idea that after 8 years the left could never get over the results and indeed, showed a derangement toward the president even after a still close but decisive win in 2004 proves that it is up to us on the right to bring our politics back to a rough equilibrium so that we can work together in these perilous times.

I plan on doing just that – while still skewering my political opponents with as much zest and glee as I can muster.

By: Rick Moran at 10:23 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (346)

CATEGORY: History, PJ Media

This piece originally appeared at Pajamas Media

This past Wednesday morning at 8:15 AM in Hiroshima, Japan, it was partly cloudy and 78 degrees with light winds. Visibility was about 10 miles. A bell softly rang in the immaculately kept Peace Memorial Park, remembering the moment in 1945 when the atomic age was born. The anniversary is marked in a similar manner every year with tens of thousands of people from all over the world joining in the solemn ceremony.

The dwindling number of survivors come forward each year and tell their tales of horror about that day. It’s almost as if they are re-living something that happened just recently, so vivid and emotional are the memories. Most of the survivors (many refer to them as “victims”) were young children in 1945. Many lost their parents in the blast. They say they come to bear witness so that there will be no more Hiroshimas.

Exactly 63 years earlier, weather conditions were eerily similar when Colonel Paul Tibbets, commander of the 509th Composite Group and pilot of a plane he named after his mother—the Enola Gay—flew over Hiroshima’s Aioi Bridge and began to bank his aircraft.

Just as Tibbets started his turn, the B-29 lurched violently as 10,000 pounds of American technical, industrial, and scientific ingenuity fell out of the bomb bay almost exactly on schedule (navigator Captain Theodore Van Kirk’s calculations of time over target was 15 seconds off). Little Boy, they called it, in an ironic juxtaposition to its massive bulk. It was a gun-type nuclear bomb—a crude, primitive, inefficient device by our standards. And for all the effort, money, time, and brainpower that went into designing it, Little Boy was simplicity incarnate.

A hollow bullet of highly enriched uranium 235 was placed at one end of a long tube with a larger mass of enriched uranium at the other end. The larger cylinder of nuclear material was barely “subcritical”—that is, needing just a bit more in order to start a chain reaction and cause an explosion.

When Little Boy hit 1900 feet above Hiroshima (it had drifted about 800 feet from the target), the uranium bullet fired down the barrel and impacted the cylinder perfectly. For two millionths of a second, the mass that used to be Little Boy became as hot as the sun. This heat so thoroughly eliminated humans directly below the blast, all that could be seen afterwards were shadow-like outlines of people on the concrete.

The blast—equivalent to about 13,000 tons of TNT —literally scoured out the center of the city and the resulting fires took care of most of the rest. About 70,000 people perished within hours of the blast with another 70,000 dying before the end of 1945.

Three days later—63 years ago today—history would repeat itself over the city of Nagasaki. This time, a plutonium bomb was used, increasing the efficiency of the device dramatically. Due to some topographical quirks (there were no large hills as in Hiroshima to focus the blast effect), the casualty rate was lower. Still, Fat Man managed to kill more than 40,000 that day and another 40,000 before that fateful year faded into history.

How could we have done it? Much of the world to this day asks the question, “Wasn’t there another, less cruel way to end the war?”

The decision to drop the bomb will always be controversial because the answer to that question is yes, there were other ways we could have ended the war with Japan. Some would almost certainly have cost more lives than were lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Army Air Force Commander of Strategic Forces in the Pacific Curtis LeMay believed if given six months and freedom to target whatever he wished, he could bring Japan to its knees by completely destroying its ability to feed itself. Victory assured—at the cost of several million starved Japanese.

The navy thought a blockade would do the trick. Starving the Japanese war machine of raw materials and the people of food they were importing from occupied China would have the Japanese government begging for peace in a matter of six months to a year. Again, visions of millions of dead from starvation came with the plan.

The army saw invasion as the only option. A landing on the southernmost main island of Kyushu followed up by an attack on the Kanto plain near Tokyo on the island of Honshu. Dubbed Operation Downfall, the plan called for the first phase to be carried out in October of 1945, with the main battle for Japan taking place in the spring of 1946. Casualty estimates have been hotly debated over the years, but it seems reasonable to assume that many hundreds of thousands of Americans would have been killed or wounded while, depending on how fiercely civilians resisted, perhaps several million Japanese would have died in the assault.

But there were other plans to end the war as well. Undersecretary of the Navy Ralph Bard sat in the meeting room where the Interim Committee was meeting on June 1, 1945 to decide on where the atomic bombs should be used and how. And from his vantage point, he did not agree with the main conclusions of the committee to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki without warning. Later that month, he wrote a memo to his boss, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, where he tried to make the case for not using the device.

Ever since I have been in touch with this program I have had a feeling that before the bomb is actually used against Japan that Japan should have some preliminary warning for say two or three days in advance of use. The position of the United States as a great humanitarian nation and the fair play attitude of our people generally is responsible in the main for this feeling.

During recent weeks I have also had the feeling very definitely that the Japanese government may be searching for some opportunity which they could use as a medium of surrender. Following the three-power conference emissaries from this country could contact representatives from Japan somewhere on the China Coast and make representations with regard to Russia’s position and at the same time give them some information regarding the proposed use of atomic power, together with whatever assurances the President might care to make with regard to the Emperor of Japan and the treatment of the Japanese nation following unconditional surrender. It seems quite possible to me that this presents the opportunity which the Japanese are looking for.

I don’t see that we have anything in particular to lose in following such a program. The stakes are so tremendous that it is my opinion very real consideration should be given to some plan of this kind. I do not believe under present circumstances existing that there is anyone in this country whose evaluation of the chances of the success of such a program is worth a great deal. The only way to find out is to try it out.

Was Japan ready to surrender in June? The cabinet had been wanting to give up at least since April. They had extended feelers to the Russians in hopes of using Stalin as a go-between in negotiations. But intercepts by our codebreakers released unredacted in 1995 clearly show that in addition to a demand to maintain the Emperor’s position, the Japanese would only settle for a “negotiated” peace with the army command structure still intact and no occupation. In short, an invitation to another war as soon as the Japanese recovered. Even that proved too much for many in the military who saw surrender as the ultimate disgrace according to bushido, their code of honor. When Stalin stalled the Japanese peace delegation, the military killed the tentative outreach completely.

Would warning the Japanese of the existence of the bomb have done any good? It may have. But the Interim Committee came to the conclusion that the Japanese were just as likely to move thousands of American prisoners of war to the target area. And a demonstration of what the bomb could do was out of the question. There was enough plutonium for two devices—the Trinity test “gadget” and Fat Man. After that, the supply was a question mark because of manufacturing problems at the Oak Ridge gaseous diffusion plant in Tennessee and Hanford reactor in Washington state.

Besides, after 82 days of the most brutal combat in any theater of the war, the battle for Okinawa was finally winding down. It is hard to grasp the wave of helplessness that descended on many in the civilian and military leadership as they watched the Japanese on Okinawa fight so fanatically and to the death. The prospect of invasion and continued combat throughout the Pacific was frightening. The gruesome toll of 100,000 Japanese soldiers dead and 50,000 American casualties weighed heavily on the Interim Committee in making their recommendations to President Truman.

Bard almost certainly discussed his memo with both Stimson and Truman. Stimson, an old world, old fashioned diplomat who said when disbanding the code breakers after World War I “Gentlemen don’t read other gentlemen’s mail,” was impressed by the arguments and even shared some of Bard’s sentiments but felt he had an obligation to abide by the Committee’s majority findings.

Truman, president for less than 3 months and in the dark about the Manhattan Project during his entire vice presidency, was being given advice from every corner on how to end the war. The decision to drop the bomb did not, he claims, initiate a great moral conflict within him. He accepted the recommendation of the Interim Committee and went off to Potsdam where the allies issued an ultimatum to Japan: surrender or suffer the consequences. The die was cast and the fate of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was sealed.

With no good plan to end the war without massive death and suffering, an intransigent Japanese government insisting on fighting to the bitter end, mounting casualties in the Philippines and Okinawa, a war weary public, the prospects of transferring millions of men who had just survived the horrors of the European battlefields to the Pacific, and his own belief that using the bombs would end the war quickly, Truman gave the go ahead in a handwritten note on the back of a July 31, 1945 memo from Stimson regarding the statement to be released following the bombing.

“Reply to your suggestions approved. Release when ready but not before August 2.

In the end, there were probably many calculations that went into the decision by Truman to drop the bomb. Other considerations probably included the effect it might have on the Soviets. For many years, this reason was considered by several historians to be the primary concern of Truman when he gave the go-ahead to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While it no doubt was one factor in Truman’s decision, it appears now, thanks to publication of radio intercepts from the time, that the president’s primary focus was using a weapon he felt could end the war in days and not months.

Another factor was the advice given him by his good friend and confidante Jimmy Byrne, former senator from South Carolina. Byrne pointed out that spending $2 billion for a bomb that was never used, not to mention the chance that it could end the war and save lives, would anger the American people—especially those who lost loved ones because the bomb had not been tried. Some historians have pointed to this factor as an overriding one, but that almost certainly isn’t the case. Byrne’s political instincts were solid, but Truman would hardly have based his decision on what the voters would have thought after the war.

If all of this is went into deciding to use the bomb, why then does most of the rest of the world criticize us for using it?

The stories of survivors are harrowing—flames everywhere, people walking by whose flesh had been ripped off their bodies by heat and the blast, the inability to find loved ones. All the ghastliness of Dante’s Hell and a Gothic horror novel rolled into one. We pity them and ache for what they went through that horrible day.

But once—just once—I would like to hear the horror stories of the men and women of Pearl Harbor as counterpoint to the suffering of the Japanese and a reminder of who started the war and how they did it. I want to hear from those who can tell equally horrific tales of death and destruction. How Japanese aircraft strafed our men with machine gun fire while they were swimming for their lives through flaming oil spills, the result of a surprise attack against a nation with whom they were at peace. Or how the hundreds of men trapped in the USS Arizona slowly suffocated over 10 days as divers frantically tried to cut through the superstructure and rescue their comrades.

Perhaps we might even ask surviving POWs to bear witness to their ordeal in Japanese prison camps—surely as brutal, inhuman, and gruesome an atrocity as has ever been inflicted on enemy soldiers.

While we’re at it, I am sure there are thousands of witnesses who would want to testify about how the Japanese army raped its way across Asia. This little discussed aspect of the war is a non-event for the most part in Japanese histories. But the millions of women who suffered unspeakable mistreatment by the Japanese army deserve a hearing whenever the tragedy of Hiroshima is remembered.

Yes, no more Hiroshimas. But to take the atomic bombing of Japan totally out of context and use it to highlight one nation or one city’s suffering is morally offensive. The war with Japan, with its racial overtones on both sides as well as the undeniable cruelty and barbarity by the Japanese military, should have been ended the second it was possible to do so. Anything less makes the moral arguments surrounding the use of the atomic bomb an exercise in sophistry.

By: Rick Moran at 9:55 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (20)


We are dealing with absolutely criminal and crazy acts of irresponsible and reckless decision makers, which is on the ground producing dramatic and tragic consequences.” – Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili

Well, that’s one way to describe Vladmir Putin’s naked power grab against Georgia. “Criminal and crazy” certainly fits the Russian prime minister to a “T.” But methinks there may be a method to Putin’s madness.

Putin covets South Ossetia as a way to block western influence in the Caucasus. He also needs the breakaway province as a staging area for his war of nerves with Georgia and its democracy championing president Mikhail Saakashvili. Putin sees Saakashvili as a threat to his iron hold on the caucuses and resents the Georgian president’s attempts to join NATO.

The fog of war is particularly thick since communications are bad to begin with and made worse by the Russians apparently targeting communications hubs. Just how bad things are is anyone’s guess:

Shota Utiashvili, an official at the Georgian Interior Ministry, called the attack on Gori a “major escalation,” and said he expected attacks to increase over the course of Saturday. He said some 16 Russian planes were in the air over Georgian territory at any given time on Saturday, four times the number of sorties seen Friday.

In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, wounded fighters and civilians began to arrive in hospitals, most with shrapnel or mortar wounds. Several dozen names had been posted outside the hospital.

In a news conference, the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said Georgian attacks on Russian citizens “amounted to ethnic cleansing.”

Mr. Lavrov said Russian airstrikes targeted military staging grounds. Asked whether Russia is prepared to fight “all-out war” in Georgia, he said: “No. Georgia, I believe, started a war in Southern Ossetia, and we are responsible to keep the peace.”

Actually, there has been a low level conflict in South Ossetia since the province broke away with Russian help in the early 90’s. At that time, Russian “peacekeepers” moved in to, in effect, maintain the status quo. Then, in 2004, Saakashvili was elected on a pro-democracy, nationalistic platform promising to reunite with both South Ossetia and another break away province Abkhazia.

Putin, who appears unstable at times, was reported to have had a carpet chewing episode a la Hitler when he heard of Saakashvili’s election – especially since his hand picked candidate got creamed. He vowed not to give up South Ossetia and has tried to kick Georgia out of the province ever since.

This latest round of trouble occurred when several Georgian policemen were killed by a roadside bomb. Georgia responded by lobbing some mortar rounds into a South Ossetian separatist military enclave and Putin (who is in Beijing himself) seeing the world’s attention on China at the moment, decided to launch what is either going to be a punitive raid or perhaps the big enchilada – full scale military invasion of Georgia. At the moment, anything could happen.

One bit of comic relief has been supplied by the man elected President of Russia who is supposed to be in charge of the army and foreign affairs but who apparently was either kept out of the loop or isn’t calling the shots. If anyone needed any proof who is really running the show in Russia, this military action should dispel all doubts:

The conflict in Georgia also appeared to suggest the limits of the power of President Dmitri A. Medvedev, Mr. Putin’s hand-picked successor. During the day, it was Mr. Putin’s stern statements from China, where he was visiting the opening of the Olympic Games, that appeared to define Russia’s position.

But Mr. Medvedev made a public statement as well, making it unclear who was directing Russia’s military operations. Officially, that authority rests with Mr. Medvedev, and foreign policy is outside Mr. Putin’s portfolio.

“The war in Ossetia instantly showed the idiocy of our state management,” said a commentator on the liberal radio station, Ekho Moskvy. “Who is in charge – Putin or Medvedev?”

Putin should stop the charade and just name himself emperor. Or Czar.

Of concern to the west is not only the independence of a democratic Georgia, but also a good chunk of western Europe’s oil supply. The Caspian ports from where that oil is shipped are in danger of being bombed at any time and any interruption in supply will cause the price of oil to reverse its current downward trend and rocket back up into the stratosphere.

On top of all this is the need for Putin to maintain contact with his friends in Tehran. The Caucasus are the back door to the Persian Gulf  and have historically been a vital crossroads in playing “The Great Game” of big powers seeking to control the region where smuggling routes over the years for everything from drugs to blue jeans have meant fabulous profits for those on top. A continuing NATO presence in Georgia threatens Putin’s lines of communication with Iran which is just one more reason for Putin’s bluster in the region.

Chances are this conflict will die down quickly. Georgia can’t afford to go to war with Russia and Putin would rather burrow from within when it comes to taking down Saakashvili. But the real chances for peace lie with the South Ossetia separatists. And they have their own agenda they are following at the moment.

By: Rick Moran at 10:35 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (13)

Democrat=Socialist linked with Obama Just Can’t Get Right...
Maggie's Farm linked with Back from fishin' links... Political News and Blog Aggregator linked with Georgian army moves to retake S. Ossetia...

Did you hear it yesterday? Even coming through the television couldn’t weaken the magic of The Voice as it worked its weirding way on all within earshot. It wasn’t the words themselves – vapid, cliche ridden, dog earred, 40 year old liberal pablum. And it wasn’t necessarily the way Obama delivered the words – the cadence and rythmn evoking the feeling you were listening to a combination of preacher and carnival huckster.

Obama’s gifts as an orator include his strong, melifulous voice – an instrument he plays beautifully using the full extent of the upper and lower registers, raising and lowering volume quite effectively. His phrasing is usually perfect. He never needs to stop mid sentence to take a breath or find his place on the teleprompter. There is little wasted motion as his body language and movement screams authority and confidence. No awkward hand motions. Everything is smooth as melted butter.

Above all, Obama has an extraordinary sense of his own performance – probably the result of hours and hours spent in front of a mirror. This has given his speeches a sense of the dramatic lacking in most political addresses. The guy could read the menu at a vegan restaurant and hold people spellbound.

All of these gifts, however, tend to obscure what he is actually saying rather than illuminate his ideas as Reagan’s or JFK’s oratory did. For JFK and his alter ego/wordsmith Teddy Sorenson, words were clay in their hands as they would carefully construct beautiful images while laying their ideas on top like captions to a photograph. Not a natural speaker like Obama and Reagan, Kennedy more than made up for that deficiency by never speaking down to his audience and inspiring people with, what at the time, was the boldness of his vision.

Reagan’s gifts were those of an actor. No modern speaker used the combination of body language and voice so perfectly. His sense of his own performance, like Obama’s, was pitch perfect. Reagan, much more than Obama, had an exact idea of what he looked like coming across on the small screen. He knew how his upper body was framed by the camera almost, it seemed, to the pixel. This allowed for a closer, more intimate look at the speaker. There was no wasted motion, no large moves of the hands or shoulders by Reagan. He and the camera were one which heightened the sense of drama that his words then completed.

Not surprisingly, Obama uses his gifts not to enlighten but to obscure the real ideas that lie beneath his rhetoric. Those ideas date back to the beginnings of the new left in the 1960’s and have not changed much in the intervening years. And there is no better example of this than his speech yesterday in Berlin.

A few examples will suffice:

Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.

Constant references throughout the speech to the idea of “the brotherhood of man” – Lenin’s “new man” who was, as Obama identified himself, a “citizen of the world” who shared “common values” with all. Except those bullet holes – pot shots taken by East German gaurds at people fleeing tyranny – have nothing to do with “common humanity” and instead are reminders of the brutality of one system of government – communism. Until the left in this country and Europe come to grips with the evils perpetrated by that system, the chances of it happening again are probably better than 50-50.
People of the world—look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.

Obama loves rewriting history. Talk about hating America, we heard the same crap from the left about how hated we were all during the 1980’s right up until the time the wall fell. Even then, it was Gorbachev and not America who was responsible for that miracle according to liberals.

The fact is, the “world did not stand as one” against communism. Most of the world was against us. It was Thatcher, Reagan, and Pope John Paul II who freed Eastern Europe and anyone who was alive at the time knows it.

As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.

As even most responsible pro-global warming scientists will tell you, that is a crock of crap. It is impossible to prove cause and effect for droughts in the midwest being connected to a drought in Kenya. That is silly, stupid, and deliberately misleading. And Obama might want to make a note that there is more ice in the Arctic this summer than there has been in about 50 years.
That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another. The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.

More pie in the sky “brotherhood of man” crap especially because Obama fails to mention the reason why many of those walls are standing; if they came down, chances are a lot of those people would be at each other’s throats and no amount of magical speaking or wishful thinking will change that fact.
This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Not surprisingly, this old lefty dream received the most applause from the assembled masses. Like gun control, it is likely that if we take nukes out of the hands of nation states, the only ones who have them will be the terrorists.

And that’s a world I don’t want to live in.

This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century—in this city of all cities—we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.

Would someone please tell me why there has been this fascination, this love affair with Russia on the part of the left for 90 years? I am sure Putin is licking his chops as a wolf looking at a bunch of sheep if Obama becomes president. Putins idea of “partnership” might differ a bit from the messiah’s.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many.

Confiscation anyone? Obama wants to extend this old leftist dream of robbing the rich and giving some of it to the poor (the rest going to government bureaucrats) from American rich to the rich of other countries. Why another nation’s system of wealth distribution should be anyone else’s business – least of all Barack Obama’s – is beyond me.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands.

More global warming hysteria. Beg to differ with the messiah but the children of today will almost certainly miss the effects of catastrophic global warming – if it happens – since most responsible global warming advocates see a 100-200 year timeframe before the worst occurs (this despite recent “studies” showing differently). And at the moment, the world’s weather just isn’t cooperating as the earth has actually cooled over the last decade. But that won’t stop this gigantic con game from going forward to redistribute the wealth of the world while curbing if not destroying industrialized civilization.
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words “never again” in Darfur?

Very nice words, Barack. Very pretty. But what are you going to DO about it? As a topper for recycled leftist pap, this is the keeper – the belief that if we all just “stand” with the dissident from Burma, he won’t have his head and hands chopped off. Or the bloger in Iran won’t be thrown in jail if we hold a concert. Or the voter in Zimbabwe won’t have their head bashed in if we all sit around in a circle and think good thoughts.

The utter stupidity and yes, uselessness of these ideas is dressed up in beautiful prose and delivered by a gifted charlatan who, I am coming to suspect, doesn’t have a clue what he will do once in office. End the Iraq war? Not hardly. The man says so himself. National health insurance? Whose plan? How’s he going to get it passed? Taxes up. Some people’s tax bill (like mine) doubling.

When is someone going to ask him what he’s going to do to bring down the price of gasoline? Nothing in his speech to the non-voting Germans made mention of that. The housing crisis? More regulation and bail outs, rewarding bad business practices and stupid consumers both.

Obama’s disguising his far left ideas in pretty language and excellent delivery of his speeches is exactly the opposite of what almost every great political orator in American history has sought to do. Due to his “weirding ways,” he has managed to fool a great number of people into believing he is something he is not; a politician that will transform America into some kind of utopia where we all get along and people are healthy, happy, and content.

Strip aside the rhetoric and the mesmerizing presence on the stump and you are left with a rather ordinary, rather inspid liberal with visions of a planet united and America a slavish partner to the goals and aspirations of the bureaucrats at the United Nations – the US an emasculated presence while our own vital interests take second place to those preaching the gospel of universal brotherhood.

This has been a dream of the new left for 60 years. And Obama, the word made flesh of that dream, is just the man to fulfill that destiny.

By: Rick Moran at 8:22 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (15)

Maggie's Farm linked with Friday afternoon links...
CATEGORY: Blogging, History

Happy Fourth of July!

Below is the final installment of my series on Liveblogging the debate and adoption of the Declaration of Independence. I hope you enjoyed this little trip back in time and will continue to visit The House to be entertained as well as to challenge your thinking on a variety of subjects.

Faithful readers of The House will recall that in previous years, my “Liveblogging the Battle of Gettysburg” occupied this site at around this time. Sadly, I have taken that project about as far as possible and declined to involve myself with it this year.But over the last months, several of you have urged me to “liveblog” an historical event using a similar premise – that the internet existed at the time and that I could then link to and comment on the event from the perspective that we were all living it rather than viewing it from afar.

You asked for it. You got it. Let’s go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 4, 1776 and the background on how the final version of the Declaration of Independence came about. (I liveblogged the vote on independence here. And here is my post from yesterday.)
Image Hosted by

Scroll for updates below.

It’s 10:00 AM on Bloggers Row here in Carpenter Hall and for once, I find myself virtually alone. My blog friends have finally realized that just because Congress says that they will start deliberations at 10:00 AM every day doesn’t mean anything. Our Great Men enjoy long, leisurely breakfasts and have little interest in adhering to the dictates of good government by hurrying themselves along. The city could be on fire or worse, the British could be marching down Chestnut Street and I fear many members of Congress would tarry at their tables lest their digestion suffer.

I don’t really mind the delay that much. It gives me a chance to reflect on what has been accomplished these last momentous weeks here in Philadelphia and try and make sense of what the future might bring.

I had a long conversation with Tom Paine last night at City Tavern – well, in truth, Mr. Paine did most of the talking, lubricated as he was by several glasses of ale. Anyone who has read Common Sense knows the measure of this brilliant, erratic man. For in truth, I found that his speaking is much the same as his writing.

He touched on familiar themes; the inevitability of our separation from England as well as the certainty of our triumph. I tried to argue the Tory side but he cut me off peremptorily and quoted from his treatise, destroying my arguments in the process:

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connection with Great Britain, the same connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true; for I answer roundly that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power taken any notice of her. The commerce by which she hath enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.

Mr. Paine makes an interesting point, one that I’ve heard some patriot merchants make on several occasions. Our connection to Great Britain with her restrictive trade practices and heavy duties on necessities has stifled the American commercial character. Might independence loose a torrent of business activity that will enrich our citizens from all levels of society? Paine is adamant that this is so. The man is too much a “leveler” for my taste but it’s hard to argue with his logic. Besides, it’s a little intimidating for this lowly blogger to be interviewing the man credited by many with moving the entire nation toward independence!

I received some disturbing news from my landlady this morning about a disturbance at the Shippen House late last evening. Evidently some drunken dock workers were shouting insults at the Tory family and went so far as to throw a few rocks at the windows.

No one was hurt but it raises some troubling questions; what to do with the loyalists?

Philadelphia has thousands of Tories. As I mentioned yesterday, I saw several loyalist families making preparations to abandon the city now that independence has been declared. But many more will no doubt stay – especially the families that own the great commercial houses that carry on with most of the business in the city. Should we place them under arrest? Should we force them to leave? What is to be done?

I never thought of this before but, in a way, this conflict will also take on the character of a civil war because there are so many among us who are still loyal to England. I have no doubt that my loyalist friend Thomas would fight for England if given the chance. Might we meet on a distant battlefield in the future, two friends who have known each other all our lives trying to kill each other?

A sobering thought, that. And that’s not the half of it. Thomas’s brother Joseph is a patriot and has already joined the Continental Army. Might the two brothers…?

Perish the thought. Some things we cannot dwell on lest the uncertainty of the future affect our present deliberations. And what we must concentrate on now is shouting from the mountaintops our determination to resist tyranny so that other nations can join us in our quest for liberty and independence.

But that won’t happen until we get Mr. Jefferson’s declaration passed in reasonably good order. I am told that Congress is determined to finish the task today so stay tuned for an update around 2:00 PM. We’ll see how far they’ve gotten.


The Congress is winding up its perusal of Mr. Jefferson’s declaration and from what I understand, the Virginian has been moping around the State House bemoaning the fact that his masterpiece of writing has been butchered.

As a writer myself, I can certainly understand Jefferson’s lament but frankly, he’s a little off base here. First of all, my take on his draft was that he was verbose and emotionally overwrought in some places. And if the Congress wants to exclude passages that are critical of the English people or that highlight the slave trade, that is their right as representatives of the people. I happen to think their judgment is sound on both points.

For instance, just a few minutes ago, Congress changed this passage from Jefferson’s draft:

A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free. Future ages will scarce believe that the hardiness of one man, adventured within the short compass of twelve years only, on so many acts of tyranny without a mask, over a people fostered & fixed in principles of liberty.

To this cleaner, clearer, less emotionally charged sentence:

A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

I’m sure you can see where Congress, by condensing and clarifying Jefferson’s thoughts on King George, have improved the character of the piece. So Jefferson’s complaints, while understandable, are nevertheless not germane to the object of the matter.

Right now, there is an interesting discussion about the curious lack of references to “God” in Mr. Jefferson’s draft. Congress is looking at the closing paragraph to the declaration. Here is Jefferson’s version:

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America in General Congress assembled do, in the name and by authority of the good people of these states, reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the kings of Great Britain and all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve and break off all political connection which may have heretofore subsisted between us and the people or parliament of Great Britain; and finally we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and independent states they shall hereafter have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.

Here is the altered final paragraph Congress wishes to insert:

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

The first major change Congress wants to make would substitute “in the name and by authority of the good people of these states”... and place in its stead “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions”...

The issue of religion has not been raised in discussion of the draft but there is apparently a feeling that by calling upon The Almighty to bless the endeavor, it would have a salutary affect on our own people who are quite the religious lot. For myself, my mother’s family are Quakers where my father’s side don’t believe much of anything. I went to the Meeting House when I was younger but my mother (much to my grandmother’s horror) allowed me to make my own decisions about religion once I reached the age of 18.

Most of these Great Men make a show of attending religious services but as far as their personal beliefs, I’m not sure. I find it interesting that they don’t mention “God” per se in the draft but rather refer to “The Supreme Judge” or, as in this other change from Jefferson’s draft, “Divine Providence.”

Jefferson’s draft:

And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.

Revision by Congress:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Still no mention of God but everyone knows who they are referring to. Or do they? There is a current of thought abroad in Europe that sees not some Supreme Being watching over our lives but rather a great force of nature that rules the universe. “Providence” refers to this idea that our lives are governed by this force and that America is destined to succeed as a result of what has been set in motion already.

It’s a little beyond my understanding. But most people will see “Providence” as a code word for “God” which is the whole point of the exercise, I gather.

All told, by my count it appears that Congress has made 39 changes to Jefferson’s draft including striking out the passage on slavery. They are preparing for the vote on adopting the declaration – a pro forma action. And then the deed will be done.

I will have one more update shortly.


The declaration of American independence was approved unanimously in Congress just a few minutes ago.

All in all, a cracking good piece of writing and thinking. While Mr. Jefferson should get the lion’s share of the credit, there were many hands that improved upon his work who should also receive the favor of history. Adams and Franklin, definitely. And several members of Congress – including the President of Congress John Hancock who was supposed to have muttered while signing his name in huge script to authenticate the document, “I guess King George should be able to read that well enough!” (I have it on excellent authority – a Mr. Charles Thomson, Secretary of Congress, that this story is utter nonsense. Congress had already adjourned and, after making a few minor changes to the draft, Hancock signed it in the presence of Mr. Thomson without saying a word.) Now it’s off to the printer where we assume, Congress assembled will sign it at a later date.

“The favor of history” – that, ultimately, is what this document’s about. Jefferson obviously wrote this declaration with one eye on history and one eye across the ocean. If it ever becomes unclear in the distant future why we colonists rose up to throw off the yoke of British tyranny, all our great-great-grandchildren will have to do is dust off Mr. Jefferson’s handiwork and read it.

But will we be able to transmit to those distant generations what was in our hearts, our minds? Will we be able to make them understand how precious our freedoms are to us, how many of us would willingly die rather than lose them? The British didn’t just want to tax us. They wanted to take our property without our consent – a clear definition of tyranny and arbitrary government. What will those future Americans – and I feel certain there will be Americans in the future – think of our taking up arms and fighting for a new nation? Will they understand how we see ourselves as “new men” set down here by God in a new place, enjoying a bounty from the land gleaned by the sweat of our own brows on our own land? Will that be important to them? I hope so.

I have no idea what the future will hold. But I know we will never stop fighting until this new nation can take its place among the old ones as an equal. Empires come and go, nations rise and fall, but America – an idea more than a place – will always be with us.

Bloggers row is empty now. They are striking the tables and chairs and the workers are giving me “the eye,” telling me it is time to go. I’m off to enlist in the Continental Army, to share the dangers and privations of this war with my friends and neighbors. And one more reason to go off to war…

I have my own country to fight for.

By: Rick Moran at 6:07 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

CATEGORY: Blogging, History

This post was originally published on July 3, 2007

A word about this particular post: Some idiot lefty whined last year that the Blogger’s feelings about the indians should have reflected a more enlightened view of Native Americans and that the inclusion of a French critic was gratuitous. There was also a complaint about what the Blogger thought of the African slaves in America at that time.

Critically examining the attitudes of our ancestors – widely held attitudes I might add – was one way to transport the reader back in time. Referring to slaves as “animal worshippers” was a device to tell the reader “You ain’t in Kansas anymore, Dorothy.” I make no apologies for our ancestor’s comparative ignorance nor do I try and pull punches when it comes to how those attitudes affected the way people thought at the time. We were who we were – warts and all. My liberal critic wanted to extend political correctness back to a time where it didn’t exist, where it couldn’t exist. To say he missed the point of this entire exercise is a given.

Anyway, here’s the second part of the series where I show how the Continental Congress dissected Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration and, despite the Virginian’s protests, improved upon it substantially.

Faithful readers of The House will recall that in previous years, my “Liveblogging the Battle of Gettysburg” occupied this site at around this time. Sadly, I have taken that project about as far as possible and declined to involve myself with it this year.But over the last months, several of you have urged me to “liveblog” an historical event using a similar premise – that the internet existed at the time and that I could then link to and comment on the event from the perspective that we were all living it rather than viewing it from afar.

You asked for it. You got it. Let’s go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 3, 1776 and the background on how the final version of the Declaration of Independence came about. (I liveblogged the vote on independence here.)
Image Hosted by


Bloggers row here at Carpenter’s Hall is beginning to resemble the Congress. Even though it’s 10:00 AM - the time appointed for Congress to open deliberations – most bloggers and delegates are nowhere to be found. I’m sure some bloggers (and no doubt some delegates) are recovering from having tasted a wee bit too much of “the creature” as my grandmother would say. There was a big celebration at City Tavern last night in honor of Mr. Adams and independence. I was there for a while but bowed out early to walk the streets and try and gauge the reaction among the population to the news that the American colonies had cut the apron strings and were no longer part of England.

There were many who appeared extremely pleased at the news. There was also a considerable number of people who appeared uncertain or even fearful. And there were some Tories who were already packing and preparing to leave the city. Judging by the rumblings I’ve heard from some patriots, it may not be safe for those whose loyalties still lie with King George.

For those who were happy at the prospect of independence, a giddy sort of confidence seemed to capture them and the thought of what lies ahead didn’t seem to faze them. This was not, I hasten to add, some kind of raw hysteria but rather a belief in themselves and their abilities to overcome the numerous obstacles that lie in our path.

I have noticed this trait in many of my fellow colonists Americans (!). When faced with a daunting challenge, they seem to have a supreme sense of being able to face the trial with a stout heart and clear eye. I suppose some of that comes from the fact that just a few short decades ago, this city was a dense wilderness full of savage beasts and even more savage men. Having hacked civilization from the primeval forests, perhaps we Americans feel that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.

A Frenchman of my acquaintance commented on this very thing – and not very favorably I might add. He thought this confidence was insufferable arrogance. I suppose that’s one way to look at it. But I feel that if this is indeed, an “American” way of looking at the world, it will hold us in good stead during the tests we will have to face in the next few years.

My sojourn among the people of Philadelphia last night impressed upon me the unique character of the American race and convinced me even more of the worthiness of our cause. And that cause will be shouted to the world when Congress gets finished with rifling through Mr. Jefferson’s declaration proclaiming our independence. As I mentioned yesterday, I was able to get a brief glimpse of the secret document and from what I saw, it seemed a fair piece of writing and thinking by the Virginian.

You may recall that Mr. Jefferson was charged with drafting the document by the so-called “Committee of Five” – Mssrs. Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Livingston (NY) and Sherman (CT) even though all were supposed to have a hand in creating the document. My understanding (and I’ll have more on this later in an update) was that Jefferson’s draft has already undergone some minor revisions by Franklin and Adams so that a “fair” copy was now in the hands of Congress. I may have some specifics later on the kinds of edits made by the Committee but that depends on whether I can get my hands on a copy or not.

Make sure you check back for updates later.

UPDATE: 12:45 PM

Congress is now in session and going over Mr. Jefferson’s declaration with a fine tooth comb. I was able to secure a copy of the Virginian’s original draft before the Committee of Five reworked it. I understand they made 49 mostly minor alterations. And in my opinion, improved on it.

For instance, here’s the introduction written by Mr. Jefferson:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a people to advance from that subordination in which they have hitherto remained, & to assume among the powers of the earth the equal & independant station to which the laws of nature & of nature’s god entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the change. We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, & to institute new government, laying it’s foundation on such principles & organising it’s powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety & happiness…

And here’s the altered text after the Committee of Five made some interesting changes:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Note the subtle change in tone. And I especially approve of the change from the original of the passage “We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable…” written by Jefferson to the much more demonstrative and confident “We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

It appears that Jefferson could be long winded at times and I believe the Committee of Five wisely cut back on the verbiage, substituting short, declarative statements – perhaps sacrificing a little style but this isn’t a writing contest we’re in here. We’re trying to convince the world of the righteousness of our cause. Anything that helps in that regard should be embraced, although I hear that Jefferson is already grumbling about fiddling with his masterwork.

We’re getting an audio only feed from the State House regarding the changes being made to the Declaration. At the moment, the delegates seem stuck on some of the reasons Jefferson has given for the seperation. Many of them don’t like the way the document blames the English people for what they clearly consider a fight with Parliament and the King. Anything that seems to criticize our English cousins is being removed. A not unwise move but considering all the flak we’ve taken from the “English people” about the justice of our cause, I really could care less if we offend them or not.

I recall Dr. Samuel Johnson, the great man of letters, telling a correspondent a few years ago “Why is it we hear the loudest yelps for freedom from the drivers of Negro slaves?” That kind of offensive statement is exactly why most of us feel that the English people, while blameless to a certain extent, nevertheless should be chastized for their support of this parliament and their tyrannical actions.

And Dr. Johnson may get his comeuppance with Jefferson’s screed. There’s this passage about our “Negro slaves” that Johnson can take and stick where the sun don’t shine:

...he has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life & liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, & murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.

It is, after all, the Crown’s fault that there’s slavery here in the first place. And it has been British ships that brought the poor unfortunates to our shores. Why not blame England for this ” execrable commerce” as Jefferson calls it?

I know Ben Franklin has started up this “Abolitionist Society” which wil agitate to free the Negroes but to my mind, that’s crazy. Three million ignorant savages suddenly freed to fend for themselves? It would be madness!

No – better that they remain slaves. At least until we can educate them to be upstanding Christians and not animal worshippers.

Mr. Ruttledge of South Carolina has already told his delegation that he will pull South Carolina out of the Congress if this passage makes it into the final draft so watch out later for some fireworks.

I’ll have one more update close to supper time.


Great excitement! Mr. Ruttledge and Mr. Adams had a knock down, drag out shouting match over the slavery section I quoted above. Ruttledge feels personally insulted by the passage and threatens the unity of the Congress unless it is stricken from the declaration. Adams believes that we can’t ignore the issue of slavery. To do so makes us hypocrites in the eyes of the world.

What to do? Both men have a point. By condemning the slave trade, do you not also condemn those who buy the slaves? And how is it possible to claim our own country on the basis of freedom while keeping millions in bondage?

My own feeling is that the issue isn’t worth tearing ourselves apart. The slavery issue will probably solve itself if we leave it alone and let the states that allow it to deal with it in their own time. After all, I wouldn’t want some Georgia planter telling me how to live my life. I’m not about to tell him what he can do with what is, after all, his own property.

But Adams is adamant about keeping the passage in the declaration and Ruttledge is steaming mad. Keeping one ear on the proceedings, I see where even some northerners are siding with Ruttledge so it seems inevitable that the passage will be struck from the final draft.

This is one argument we can’t afford right now – not with the British Navy darkening the horizon in New York Harbor. Colonel Milford of the Continental Army told me this morning it is likely that General Howe has more than 25,000 battle hardened troops to throw against our little army of 15,000, mostly made up of poorly trained militia. I fear for New York and Washington’s little army but there’s nothing for it – Congress has deemed it necessary for the General to stand and fight and fight he will of that I’m certain.

A word here about Washington. I saw him last year when he arrived for the beginning of this Second Continental Congress. He would stride purposefully into the State House every day, a grave, serious look on his face and a martial bearing accentuated no doubt by the fact that he wore his Virginia militia uniform. Some said at the time that he was angling for the command of the army. I have no doubt that is true but it is also true that there isn’t another man in the colonies who could have accomplished what he has done in such a short period of time. He outmanuevered the British in Boston, levering them out of the city by fortifying Dorchester Heights right under their noses. And of course, during the Seven Years War his otherworldly courage displayed at the Battle of the Monongahela where he almost singlehandedly saved the British army from total disaster with a skillful retreat, had his name on the lips of everyone in America.

I like General Washington. He inspires confidence – a quality that doesn’t appear in either General Gates or that ridiculous fop of a General, Charles Lee. Whether that will be enough against a superior British force bearing down on him in New York remains to be seen.

Congress has adjourned for the day. There will be another session tomorrow so make sure you check back. I’ll probably have an update around 10:00 AM.

By: Rick Moran at 5:56 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

//InnovateChurch linked with Happy July 4th...
CATEGORY: Blogging, History

I have been blogging now for nearly 4 years and I can honestly say I have never had as much fun writing as I experienced when “liveblogging” historical events. My first effort in this regard – blogging the battle of Gettysburg – was pure joy; an exercise of imagination and scholarship that literally flung me back in time. I used the considerable resources found online and in my own library to try and bring the battle home to the reader while allowing us all to live an event vicariously that I consider one of the most important in American history.

Just as close to my heart as far as favorite pieces of writing is this series of posts I will reproduce over the next three days, originally published July 2-4, 2007. In some ways, liveblogging independence was even more fun because it allowed me to explore the blogger character a little more. What did he believe? What was he thinking? What were people around him thinking? I often wondered as a conservative, would I have been a Tory? Would I have supported the established order and backed Good King George? Or would I, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, have recognized that the American race was a new breed of people. And a new people need a new country.

Isn’t that why we love history? Allowing ourselves the luxury of going back in time, putting ourselves in our ancestor’s shoes, and asking questions like those above? By taking that concept one step further and actually traveling back in time and placing myself at the center of the action, I discovered a lot about myself while taking away a new understanding and appreciation for the efforts of our Founders.

Please view this work for what it is; an amusing exercise or parlor game and not a serious effort at scholarship. I sincerely hope you will enjoy the ride.

Faithful readers of The House will recall that in previous years, my “Liveblogging the Battle of Gettysburg” occupied this site at around this time. Sadly, I have taken that project about as far as possible and declined to involve myself with it this year.But over the last months, several of you have urged me to “liveblog” an historical event using a similar premise – that the internet existed at the time and that I could then link to and comment on the event from the perspective that we were all living it rather than viewing it from afar.You asked for it. You got it. Let’s go to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 2, 1776 – the day that American Independence was literally willed into existence by the people of the United States through their representatives in the Continental Congress.
Image Hosted by

It’s 10:00 AM here in Philadelphia on what is shaping up to be a pretty significant day. I’m sitting in Carpenters Hall down the street from the State House where the delegates to the Second Continental Congress are meeting to debate and, we hope, finally vote on whether the colonies should declare themselves free of Great Britain’s oppression and create our own country.

Bloggers row here is all hustle and bustle. As usual, my friend Clayton from South Carolina is late. His manservant Henry is setting up his laptop station while Clayton is holding forth, declaiming to one and all that “I will not trade living under one tyrant 3,000 miles away for living under 3,000 tyrants one mile away.” I see Henry give his master a strange look upon hearing that statement (I read it in a Boston newspaper some months ago) – a look quickly wiped off his face as Clayton moves to his seat.

Clayton is only expressing the doubts that many of us have about this venture. In fact, most of the people I’ve talked to are more or less resigned to the fact that the rupture between our father, King George, and his children here in America cannot be repaired and that independence is therefore the only road open to us. When I heard in May that the King was negotiating with some German states to hire mercenary soldiers to fight here in America, I knew that a great chasm had opened between mother England and the colonies that could never be bridged. Damned Hessians! I hear they are savages when in battle, going so far as to murder the wounded. And what they have done to civilians is unspeakable. If this is what King George now thinks of us, he will get all the war he can handle.

And war it is. With the most powerful army in the world. General George is at the moment, finding out just how difficult a task defeating this army is going to be. He’s hip deep in Redcoats up in New York with rumors that the British will land very soon, probably at Staten Island.. I spoke briefly with General Gates a few days ago and he assured me that Washington would fail, that “the amateur” as Gates refers to our General is in over his head. I might add that Gates is angling for General George’s job so take his statements however you wish. But few military experts I’ve talked to give Washington much of a chance. In fact, I hear that Congress literally ordered Washington to try and hold New York despite it untenability. The “gentlemen” believe that it would be bad form to give up a major city without a fight.

I’ll have more thoughts in a bit once the delegates start arriving. Keep coming back to this site for updates all day.

UPDATE: 11:00 AM

The delegates are beginning to wander in. Several have come from City Tavern where I understand from a fellow blogger that there was a spirited debate over Mr. Jefferson’s draft declaration on independence which will be addressed later today. John Adams let me have a peek at Jefferson’s handiwork and I have to say it’s not half bad. The man has a way with words, no doubt about it. (Rumor has it that Jefferson blogs at the site Publius using the handle “Everyman” but no one has confirmed it.) But I suspect the delegates will all put their two cents in, mangling the piece until even Jefferson won’t recognize it.

Good news from Adams, by the way. As expected, Cesar Rodney from Delaware has made the torturous 80 mile ride to Philadelphia in order to assure Delaware’s vote for Independence. Tom McKean, the other pro-Independence delegate, assured me yesterday that Rodney, who has been in poor health due to his cancer, would be here for the big vote.

Is there a lazier specimen of humanity than these delegates to Congress? Here we are, nearly half past eleven and barely half of them have bothered to show up. The fact that they were supposed to convene at 10:00 AM tells you all you need to know about the work habits of our “Great Men.”

Looks like the vote will happen in the next hour or so. Keep checking back for further updates.


Trouble. Apparently both Pennsylvania and South Carolina are dealing with divided delegations and Mr. Adams is unsure how the obstacles can be overcome to bring those states into the independence column.

In Pennsylvania, it’s the brilliant John Dickinson who may singlehandedly derail the drive for independence. You may remember Dickinson’s Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms that he penned last year in response to British provocations. But he’s never been able to make the leap of logic and faith required to abandon the mother country and support America striking out on her own. He has argued passionately this last fortnight against Mr. Richard Henry Lee’s resolution of Independence, fearing a disasterous defeat at the hands of the British Army will be a huge blow to our freedoms. The specter of British troops garrisoned here for a generation along with more high handedness from Parliament has generated some sympathy outside of the State House but not much interest among those who have already cast their lot for freedom from tyranny.

At any rate, Dickinson isn’t budging and unless they can at least get him to abstain, the party may be cancelled.

South Carolina is a different kettle of fish alltogether. Arthur Middleton, an avowed patriot, is sitting in for his ailing father – a Tory of some influence in his colony. My friend Clayton assures me that South Carolina is “in the bag for independence” because Middleton is going to tip the delegation in favor of it regardless of his father’s wishes. I’m not so sure. Young Edward Ruttledge – a most able and accomplished man at 27 years old – believes that Mr. Middleton is having a hard time making a decision and he may recommend to Mr. Adams that the vote be put off for one more day. This would be a mistake in my opinion as it appears to me that independence is sitting on the knife’s edge already what with the trouble in Pennsylvania. We’ll know soon about both delegations so stay tuned.


Word from down the street is that a compromise in the Pennylvania delegation has been achieved. Both pro-independence member Robert Morris and Dickinson will abstain from the final vote on the Lee Resolution for Independence. This means that Pennsylvania is in the “yes” column.

And I’ve been able to confirm Clayton’s news about Mr. Middleton. He’s essentially telling his father to be damned and will vote for independence anyway. Make South Carolina a “yes” also.

So there you have it. New York has already indicated that they will abstain, having received no instructions from their legislature. However, I’m told by Phil Livingston that the entire delegation is personally for independence so that there will be no recriminations as a result of their abstention.

I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet, this idea of declaring ourselves independent and facing the wrath of the mighiest empire the world has ever seen. One thing for sure; we’re going to need some friends and quickly. The Dutch have already been quite helpful. And I hear Ben Franklin is making travel plans for France. If anyone can charm the French into openly declaring for our side, it’s Franklin. He could charm the bloomers off a spinster – something I’m sure he’s done before.

I’ll have the official results of the vote when it occurs.


The Continental Congress has passed the resolution for independence by a vote of 12-0 with New York abstaining.

John Adams is all smiles – a rarity, that. Independence wasn’t his idea but it had no greater champion nor ardent supporter than the gentleman from Massachussetts. I overheard him dictating a letter to his wife:

“The Second Day of July 1776 will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. . . . It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.”

I suspect that may be true. I can hear a bells in the background ringing joyously. It appears that word has spread quickly that the United Colonies are now the United States of America.

But just what does that mean? I talk to bloggers from the other states and frankly, I can’t see that we have a lot in common. Oh, we speak the same language – except I can barely understand James from New York. And we seem to have the same ideas about liberty and freedom.

Is that enough to form a nation? I’m going to have a hard time coming to grips with this idea that someone from Virginia is part of the same country as me. Virginia is so far away and so…alien. They’re nothing like folks from Pennsylvania. I guess I’m going to have to get used to it.

One thing is sure; we need a new nation even if it’s hard to see how all the pieces will fit together. We are a different people than those in England. I saw that as far back as The Stamp Act when Parliament tried to ram those taxes down our throats. My cousin in England wrote me wondering why we couldn’t just accept the taxes as a price to be paid for English protection. I told her that accepting tyranny for safety was a bad bargain. She never wrote back.

A new people living in a new nation. It remains to be seen whether these “United States” can stay united in the face of what surely will be some difficult years ahead.

Join me tomorrow when Mr. Jefferson’s declaration comes up for debate. It will probably be pretty dull but perhaps not. I’ll have updates beginning at 10:00 AM tomorrow.

By: Rick Moran at 7:08 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (7)

//InnovateChurch linked with Happy July 4th...

Peter Beinart, one of the more thoughtful men of the left, has a sterling piece in Time Magazine that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten a little more play among blogs.

It’s a piece about patriotism – how liberals and conservatives view the word and the concept and how patriotism is playing out in the presidential race. Beinart suffuses his piece with an obvious love of country which makes the words ring all the more real and true.

It’s always hard to be analytical about an emotional subject – perhaps even more so when trying to look dispassionately at patriotism. And because patriotism is, in many ways, wrapped up in our own personal identity, if we have difficulty recognizing how someone might define the concept, we are more than likely to reject that individual’s claim to being a patriot. Instead, we see hypocrisy or dark forebodings of authoritarianism or super-nationalism.

Beinart successfully traverses this emotional minefield and emerges with a reasoned discourse on the differences between how liberals and conservatives define patriotism. He then ties it neatly into presidential race by demonstrating how Obama’s and McCain’s patriotism may be different but still represents two sides of the same coin – love and devotion to the United States.

I found the entire exercise intellectually and emotionally satisfying – especially since I took a stab at the same subject matter last October and came up with what I thought at the time was one of the better things I had written on this site. Re-reading it, I see how close Beinart’s thinking is to my own views on patriotism (except for a more expansive view regarding American exceptionalism on my part). But Beinart goes several steps further in his analysis to include the dangers inherent in both definitions of patriotism. At bottom, Beinart has successfully shown how both the right and left understanding of patriotism is valid and a necessary complement to the other.

I hold out little hope that many readers (at least those who leave comments) on this site or most sites on the internet would grant Mr. Beinart the legitimacy of his thesis. The patriotism issue is just too emotionally charged and too closely identified with the war for most of us to let go of our petty vindictiveness and grant the opposition the one thing both sides crave the most; recognition that they are acting with the best interests of the United States uppermost in their hearts and minds.

I’m not saying everyone should abandon political combat and move into some loathsome kind of Obama-led paradise where everybody agrees about everything and our great national debates on the war, the energy crisis, the budget, or social issues would suddenly be stilled as we all recognize the error of our ways and come together to hold hands around the great American campfire. That sickening kind of political heaven might be attractive to the ignorant but idealistic young and a segment of the left that sees opposition to its policies the same way the Catholic Church viewed Martin Luther.

But it is not for me. I will continue to battle the left with anger at times but also humor, sarcasm, and satire – hopefully vouchsafing the genuineness of their beliefs and yes, their patriotism in opposing me.

For Beinart, patriotism on the right can be too simple:

That’s why conservatives tend to believe that loving America today requires loving its past. Conservatives often fret about “politically correct” education, which forces America’s students to dwell on its past sins. They’re forever writing books like America: The Last Best Hope (by William J. Bennett) and America: A Patriotic Primer (by Lynne Cheney), which teach children that historically the U.S. was a pretty nifty place. These books are based on the belief that our national forefathers are a bit like our actual mothers and fathers: if we dishonor them, we dishonor ourselves. That’s why conservatives got so upset when Michelle Obama said that “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country” (a comment she says was misinterpreted). In the eyes of conservatives, those comments suggested a lack of gratitude toward the nation that—as they saw it—has given her and the rest of us so much.

Conservatives know America isn’t perfect, of course. But they grade on a curve. Partly that’s because they generally take a dimmer view of human nature than do their counterparts on the left. When evaluating America, they’re more likely to remember that for most of human history, tyranny has been the norm. By that standard, America looks pretty good. Conservatives worry that if Americans don’t appreciate—and celebrate—their nation’s past accomplishments, they’ll assume the country can be easily and dramatically improved. And they’ll end up making things worse. But if conservatives believe that America is, comparatively, a great country, they also believe that comparing America with other countries is beside the point. It’s like your family: it doesn’t matter whether it’s objectively better than someone else’s. You love it because it is yours.

I would take issue with Mr. Beinart only in his belief that “Conservatives often fret about “politically correct” education, which forces America’s students to dwell on its past sins.” That’s only half of it. What conservatives object to is dwelling on America’s past sins at the exclusion and in lieu of telling our national story. I confess to being a little out of the loop regarding the content of “social studies” textbooks but a few short years ago, there was too much emphasis on the struggles of oppressed minorities to rise above the bigotry, sexism, and hatred in American society to reach for the promise that America offered and not enough on the remarkable, even miraculous nature of our origin.

Washington and Jefferson especially received short shrift in the textbooks I examined. How can anyone possibly know America without examining Washington as closely as we might examine Martin Luther King? Or celebrate Jefferson as much as Elizabeth Cady Stanton? The conservative critique of education today decries not just the “politically correct” interpretation of American history but the underlying message being taught; that what those dead white European males did in first fighting for independence and then cementing our freedoms and rights in the Constitution isn’t as vital or important to history as the struggle for civil rights or women’s rights. To say that this is a back-asswards way to teach history is an understatement.

But Beinart nails it when he talks about conservative’s love of the past and how we see patriotism as something of our patrimony; a concept inculcated by parents and, increasingly less so, the public schools. And he is spot on when he ascribes part of this to our rather dim view of human nature.

The difference between liberal and conservative on this point is profound and has been at the bottom of every political argument in our history. It goes back to the debate over the Constitution – between those who possessed what historian Page Smith referred to as a “classical Christian conscience” and those who believed in the values and precepts of the enlightenment.

Smith believed that the Constitution is infused with elements of both but that the classical Christain conscience dominates. It is the belief that man is inherently evil and will do mischief to his fellow man unless restrained by law and governance. (Smith ascribed a belief in original sin and man’s corruptibility as prerequisites for the classical Christian conscience.) Most of the Federalists ended up in this camp if only because they saw a need to restrain the passions of the common man and keep a strong hand on the tiller of state.

The Jeffersonians had a much more expansive and benign view of human nature. They believed in the perfectibility of man and, like true children of the enlightenment, saw man as basically good but error prone. By applying rational and reasoned concepts to government, Jeffersonians believed man was perfectly capable of governing himself as long as sensible laws were enacted to govern his passions.

One can immediately see the basics of the liberal-conservative schism in this debate over the shape of our constitution. And if you were to extrapolate a bit, you can even see how two definitions of patriotism could emerge from the competing philosophies. In Beinart’s piece, he ties the conservative view of respect for the past – defining Reagan as a magician who could summon feelings of past American greatness – with McCain’s ambitions:

McCain is a little rougher around the edges. Unlike Reagan, who during the Second World War only played soldiers on the big screen, McCain has actually seen combat. And as it did Bob Dole, the experience has made him a little more ironic and a little less sappy. (Dole tried to play the Reagan role in 1996, asking Americans in his convention acceptance speech to “let me be the bridge to an America that only the unknowing call myth,” but he couldn’t pull it off.) But if McCain isn’t Reagan, he still exemplifies many of conservative patriotism’s key themes. He followed in his forefathers’ footsteps; he put aside his hell-raising youth and learned to obey. He served his country in Vietnam, an unpopular war whose veterans we honor not because their service necessarily made the world a better place but simply because they are ours.

On one key issue, though—immigration—McCain’s view of patriotism differs from that of many on the right. Conservatives tend to believe that while Americans are bound together by the ideals enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, they are also bound together by a set of inherited traditions that immigrants must be encouraged—even required—to adopt. And they fret that if newcomers don’t assimilate into that common culture, they won’t be truly patriotic. McCain rarely discusses the dangers of mass immigration, but for many conservatives, the fact that some immigrants eat vindaloo or bok choy rather than turkey on Thanksgiving isn’t charming; it’s worrisome. They see multiculturalism as the celebration of various ethnic cultures at our national culture’s expense. And when that celebration is linked to the claim that America’s national traditions are racist—as it sometimes is on college campuses—conservatives begin to suspect that multiculturalism is leading to outright disloyalty. That’s why conservative talk radio and Fox News went berserk a couple of years back when some immigrant activists paraded through America’s cities waving Mexican flags. It confirmed their deepest fear: that if you let people retain their native tongue and let them spurn American culture for the culture of their native land, they will remain politically loyal to their native land as well.

A slight correction to Beinart’s description of the Mexican flag dustup. Of course it wasn’t because Mexican’s were only carrying Mexican flags. It was that they had elevated their own flag above the American flag – something I challenge Mr. Beinart to find in a St. Paddy’s day parade. Beyond that, the signage accompanying the flags were not mentioned by Mr. Beinart – signs clearly stating the belief that California and the southwestern United States was Mexican territory and that someday it would revert back. Reconquista may be a joke to liberals and the open borders crowd but the non-assimilation of tens of millions of Mexicans – people who are actively resisting the pull of the melting pot – is not funny.

But taking Beinart’s thesis on McCain’s appeal to patriotism, I believe he has accurately identified why there is an attraction to the Arizona senator by many conservatives. No, McCain is not a down the line man of the right. But his life story – his values, his upbringing, and his otherwordly courage in a life and death situation that he endured for 5 years resonate powerfully with many whose faith in America finds voice in men like McCain. He is an authentic American hero. And regardless of how one might feel about his immigration policies or other problematic political positions he has taken, there is that link with the past – that McCain is just the latest in a long line of heroes who sacrificed so much for this country.

So why can’t the left see it “our” way and not be so harsh and judgemental when it comes to the sins of our past? This is the way I described the difference between liberals and conservatives regarding patriotism last October:

I think it is apparent that some on the right love America in a different way than some on the left. Think of the right’s love of country as that of a young man for a hot young woman. The passion of such love brooks no criticism and in their eyes, the woman can do nothing wrong. They place the woman on a pedestal and fail to see any flaws in her beauty, only perfection.

On the other hand, love of country by many liberals is more intellectualized – perhaps the kind of love we might feel for a wife of many years. The white hot passion may be gone and her flaws might drive you up a wall at times. And it is difficult not to dwell on her imperfections But there is still a deep, abiding affection that allows you to love her despite the many blemishes and defects they see.

It isn’t that most on the left love America any less than those on the right. They simply see a different entity – a tainted but beloved object that has gotten better.

And here’s Beinart on how the left defines patriotism:
If conservatives tend to see patriotism as an inheritance from a glorious past, liberals often see it as the promise of a future that redeems the past. Consider Obama’s original answer about the flag pin: “I won’t wear that pin on my chest,” he said last fall. “Instead, I’m going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testimony to my patriotism.” Will make this country great? It wasn’t great in the past? It’s not great as it is?

The liberal answer is, Not great enough. For liberals, America is less a common culture than a set of ideals about democracy, equality and the rule of law. American history is a chronicle of the distance between those ideals and reality. And American patriotism is the struggle to narrow the gap. Thus, patriotism isn’t about honoring and replicating the past; it’s about surpassing it.

One of the major reasons I love history is that America is, at bottom, the most schizophrenic nation imaginable. As long ago as 1765 in the midst of the Stamp Act crisis, wise old Samuel Johnson, the English man of letters who compiled the first English language dictionary, wrote to a friend “Why is it we hear the loudest yelps for freedom from the drivers of Negro slaves?”

Johnson nailed the historical dichotomy that continues to this day. We are nation in love with peace who have fought uncounted wars and battles just since the end of World War II. We are a nation with a Statue of Liberty who welcomes immigrants with the stirring words “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, ...” who then turns around and puts up signs “No Irish need apply” or “English only spoken here.”

What many see as hypocrisy – including much of the left – I see as a profound disconnect from reality. It’s only hypocrisy if you don’t really believe what you’re saying. The amazing thing is we Americans believe with all our hearts in peace and in welcoming immigrants (perhaps most amazing of all, we believe that “all men are created equal” in spite of mountains of evidence that we have never practiced it) despite the actions of our government which can be quite bellicose at times as well as America possessing a long tradition of nativism.

So I can understand the left’s concept of feeling a patriotic duty to make America live up to her best ideals. I can appreciate where that notion comes from and applaud the effort – except for when the left demonstrates a lousy sense of timing and a gross mischaracterization of conservative beliefs:

From my piece:

Having said this, I should point out that the insufferable way in which the left seeks to claim some kind of moral superiority for their view of patriotism by belittling and demonizing the way the right expresses their love of country is unconscionable. There are those on the right who accuse the left of lacking in patriotism – something I have abhorred in the past and will continue to do so. Many conservatives defend dissent even in time of war as a patriotic exercise especially those who have their own beef with the way the war is being run. But I have yet to see anyone on the left take a fellow liberal to task for questioning the methods by which conservative choose to express their love of country.

Indeed, the very idea of a heartfelt expression or outward manifestation of patriotism smacks of “nationalism” to these liberals. And that perhaps, is the real divide between conservatives and liberals when it comes to a definitional framework regarding the use of the word “patriotism.”

Beinart thinks “nationalism” is a grievous sin as well:
By defining Americanism too narrowly and backwardly, conservative patriotism risks becoming clubby. And by celebrating America too unabashedly—without sufficient regard for America’s sins—it risks degenerating from patriotism into nationalism, a self-righteous, chest-thumping ideology that celebrates America at the expense of the rest of the world.

Does nationalism celebrate America “at the expense” of other nations? Or are those feelings of unease by the left the manifestation of something more basic?

My piece:

It should go without saying that liberals despise the concept of nationalism. In this, they are not entirely off base. Most of the evils of the 20th century can be traced to nationalistic impulses in Germany, Japan, the old Soviet Union (Despite their “all men are brothers” rhetoric, the Soviets never had any intention of allowing independent communist states. Their expressed desire was that the revolution be controlled by Moscow.), and the early 20th century saw nationalist movements destabilizing the Austria-Hungarian empire as well as super-nationalistic sentiment in Europe leading the continent to war.

But whether deliberately or not, the left confuses that virulent kind of nationalism with the simple expressions of patriotism most Americans see as harmless and uplifting. Yes there are those on the right who have a “my country right or wrong” attitude where a mindless form of nationalism has taken over and a creeping authoritarianism is expressed by a slavish devotion to a man like Bush. There are also aspects of militarism at large in these quarters where the military can do no wrong and any criticism of the armed forces is tantamount to treason.

I am not denying any of this. I am simply saying that this is a small minority of Americans (whose numbers are blown all of out proportion thanks to the internet). For the left to paint all conservatives and all Americans who express their love of country in a more demonstrable fashion than liberals as xenophobes and simple minded, brainwashed automatons is outrageously arrogant. It stinks of class warfare as much as it animates any criticism for the right’s overly nationalistic impulses. According to many on the left, that kind of patriotic display is reserved for the rubes in flyover country and can safely be ridiculed as the mouthings of ignorant, bible reading, goober chewing yahoos who are too stupid to “vote their own interest” we are told after every election won by a conservative.

What Beinart and other liberals describe as “nationalism” is, I am convinced, nothing more than feelings of discomfort with the more emotional, outward displays of patriotism you often find in Middle America. As Beinart and I agree that the left intellectualizes their patriotism, it stands to reason that grown men weeping at the passing of the flag or even the wearing of a flag pin might cause those on the left to be reminded of all the sins America has committed and that such outward displays are stupid, foolish, and for some liberals, cynically hypocritical.

In some ways, this is an elitist, coastal view of America that many on the left are guilty of and the reason they have continuously lost national elections with two exceptions since 1968.

There is, in fact, nothing wrong with believing America is a different place, a special place compared to other nations. Does that mean loving America “at the expense” of other nations? Damn straight. And the intellectual basis for that feeling can be found in American exceptionalism.

Again, my words:

The idea of American Exceptionalism has taken a beating in recent years because of this overt fear on the part of the left that believing America to be special smacks of the kind of nationalism that had Europe marching off to war in 1914 or Germans goose stepping under the Brandenburg Gate in 1939. Nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t have to read Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky to rid yourself of the notion “my country right or wrong.” And if that is the only education you allow yourself about America and her past, I pity you. Nor do you need any special knowledge vouchsafed those lucky lefties who are able to see through Bushitler’s lies in order to oppose the President on many issues. Unless you are a blind, mindless partisan, such wisdom comes from picking up the daily newspaper and reading it every once and a while.

In short, the privileged moral position the left seeks to occupy on the question of patriotism is an arrogant lie – a belief that those who are more nationalistic in their expressing love of country are not only wrong but dangerous. I hate to disabuse my lefty friends of this notion that patriotism can only be defined as the last refuge of scoundrels but the kind of nationalism expressed by most on the right is in fact healthy and sincere form of patriotism. There is not a whiff of authoritarianism or militarism except in the fevered minds and paranoid imaginings of those who either don’t understand the right’s patriotism or refuse to recognize it as genuine.

Tough words but I believe I speak for many conservatives in uttering them. Beinart may be able to define the differences in patriotic sentiment between liberals and conservatives but many of his friends on the left see only unsophisticated “chest thumping” as manifestations of conservative patriotism while ignoring the feelings of good, decent, people who only understand that they are grateful for having been born in a country they consider the greatest, the most compassionate, the most blessed place on earth.

Yes, there is a religious aspect to the idea of American exceptionalism – that God carved out this land between the oceans and placed upon it the salt of the earth. But as an atheist, I see a much more secular explanation; that fate and the brilliance of a pitifully small number of men combined to present us with a form of government that has allowed the individual to flourish as never before in human history. If this makes us a better place than anywhere else, we should make no apologies and instead, revel in the exceptional nature of our existence.

Beinart can be forgiven his small errors because he so beautifully brings out and celebrates these differences in patriotic sentiment while showing why both the liberal and conservative understanding of patriotism is vital to a healthy country. His piece won’t stop the arguing. But it may initiate dialog that could lead to a glimmer of light so that both sides understand each other a little better.


Comment moderation is off since I will be gone overnight. Please be gentle and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. If you do, be careful. And if you’re not careful, name it after me.

By: Rick Moran at 9:01 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (33)


(This post originally appeared June 25, 2005)


George Armstrong Custer surveyed the low, rolling Montana countryside before him on that brutally hot Sunday afternoon of June 25, 1876 and must have felt a twinge of anticipation. He was a warrior. And prior to every battle he was ever involved in, from his glory days in the Civil War to this, the last battle of his life, Custer felt the tingling of impending combat. He considered himself invulnerable. His confidence – some would say arrogance – inspired both intense loyalty and profound disdain from the men and officers under his command. This, more than anything else, led to his destruction.

The Battle of Little Bighorn (the Lakota call it “The Battle of Greasy Grass Creek”) is the most closely examined battle in American history. Custer’s every known move has been examined, debated, dissected, re-examined and criticized by historians, archaeologists, anthropologists, and scientists. It’s also been one of the most popular subjects for artists as every generation since the battle has had both ridiculous and stylized portrayals as well as historically accurate reproductions. And thanks to Hollywood, just about everyone has heard of Custer and the battle that claimed his life.

The evolution of attitudes toward the battle is one of the most fascinating aspects of its history. Originally seen as a massacre of white soldiers by merciless Indians, the loss of of 267 American soldiers outraged and humiliated a country that was in the process of celebrating it’s Centennial. The resulting outcry sealed the doom of the Lakota, Cheyenne and other plains Indians tribes who had united for one last great war against white encroachment. Custer was portrayed as a great hero, thanks in no small part to his wife Libby’s hagiographic biography of their lives together called Boots and Saddles.

Then in the 1960’s, a welcome re-examination of America’s mythic heroes, including Custer, was initiated by historians eager to take advantage of the American people’s desire for the “truth” about our past. The pendulum swung in the opposite direction and Custer emerged as a vainglorious martinet of an officer, so eager for glory that he sacrificed his men on the altar of personal ambition.

By the late 1970’s, Custer’s image had been slightly rehabilitated thanks to a re-examination of his outstanding career as a Civil War cavalry leader. And along with authors like Jeffrey Wert and Evan McConnel, a new, more personal side of Custer emerged. The arrogant martinet became the loving and devoted husband whose letters to his young wife reveal a playful, likable man with a penchant for teasing.

But on that fateful Sunday, Custer allowed the darker side of his personality to take over. This was a Custer that was unconcerned with the lives of his men. This was the Custer who had been court martialed and suspended for a year for disobeying orders. And this was the Custer whose overweening confidence in his own abilities and suicidal disdain for the fighting skills of his adversary sealed his fate and the fate of so many in his command.

He was not technically in violation of his orders. General Terry, who was making his way to the Little Big Horn with 2,500 infantry, was due the next day but had not specifically ordered Custer to wait. So despite the warnings of his faithful Crow scouts (“Many Sioux” they had told him, a warning he didn’t heed because he thought the Indians couldn’t give an accurate count of warriors), Custer rode to his death.

His survey of the Indian encampment before him was superficial. All he could see from his vantage point was the north end of the village. This was due to a quirk in the topography of the battlefield. If you ever visit the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument, you’ll be struck by the gently, rolling hills that give the impression of a single valley stretching out in the distance. What Custer couldn’t see were intervening copses and indentations that hid not the 5,000 or so Indians he believed he was facing, but fully 15,000 men, women and children in a gigantic encampment that stretched for more than 5 miles across the plain.

At the sight of Custer’s men, the Indian warriors rushed to their families and helped to get them out of harms way. Custer interpreted this as a sign that the Indians were preparing to flee and divided his command into 3 sections. He sent Major Reno around to where he thought the south end of the camp was, ordering him to ride through the village and sow confusion while he attacked from the north and the other column commanded by Major Benteen attacked from the east.

It was stupid, rash, and doomed to failure. Reno, an inexperienced (some would say cowardly) officer took one look at the immense village before him and retreated. Some historians believe that if Reno had attacked while the warriors were busy looking after the safety of their families he could have in fact caused the kind of confusion that Custer was looking for. What this would have meant to the outcome of the battle is uncertain. Given that there were other instances on the plains of vastly outnumbered cavalry holding off the tribes, Custer may have been able to save most of his command if he had immediately found defensible ground to make a stand. If Reno had followed his orders, it may have given Custer time to find better defensive ground as his subordinate Major Benteen was able to do, taking up a position on a steep bluff overlooking the Little Big Horn river. But given Custer’s impetuous nature, this probably wasn’t in the cards.

Custer had a reputation during the Civil War of doing whatever it took to win battles. His casualty rate was the highest of any Civil War cavalry general. But as Phil Sheridan’s devastating right arm in the Shenendoah, Custer’s troops won victory after victory – including winning the battle of Yellow Tavern where one of those grim necessities for a Union triumph to come to pass finally happened; Custer’s boys killed the biggest thorn in the Union side in the Eastern theater – Jeb Stuart.

Headstrong, fearless, and also something of a martinet in that he demanded much from his men, Custer was popular with ordinary troopers because he won battles and instilled a sense of pride in his brigades. He was not very well liked among his fellow officers, however, due to his shameless self promotion and perceived sucking up to headquarters. In the end, despite some historians who argue Reno and Benteen failed to come to Custer’s defense even though both those officers were busy trying to keep from being wiped out themselves, Custer’s fate was sealed the moment he divided his command

Custer’s 267 men rode along a bluff that he thought hid him from sight of the village. He was tragically mistaken. The Indians, alerted to his presence by the incompetent Reno were now swarming between the copses and in the shallow depressions that marked the north end of the battlefield. Too late, Custer realized his predicament and ordered his men up to the top of a gently sloping hill northwest of the village. Known as “Last Stand Hill,” approximately 900 Lakota and Cheyenne warriors were able to surround Custer’s command and wipe them out to the last man.

In the aftermath of the battle, General Terry arrived and after hastily burying the dead, started after Sitting Bull and his people. Evading capture for two years by going to Canada, the starving Lakotans finally surrendered on their own and were forced onto reservations.

The spectacular victory of the Indians over the United States army was the last major engagement of the Indian wars of the 19th century. There would be other skirmishes and campaigns – most notably against Goyathlay AKA “Geronimo, the great Chiricahua Apache warrior – but Little Big Horn would be the last time so many warriors on both sides were involved.

As for history’s judgment, Custer’s legacy will be a mixed one. Perhaps it’s unfortunate that Little Big Horn will overshadow his real accomplishments as a cavalry commander during the Civil War. He remains one of the most fascinating characters in American history, reason enough for the continued fascination with the battle that claimed his life.

By: Rick Moran at 12:29 pm | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (12)

CATEGORY: History, Politics

I had a dream the other night.

In my dream, I was standing on the curb of a street watching a parade go by. There was something about this parade, though, that wasn’t quite right. The marching bands, the drum and bugle corps, the floats – even the pretty girls twirling batons – all looked pretty much the same. They were vaguely familiar; like you’ve met them in your dreams before but never in real life.

Then it hit me. That high stepping drum major looked just like George Bush. The little girl twirling the baton? George Bush. The beauty queen on the float? Ditto. Even the trained dog looked like Bush.

Everywhere you looked, George Bush looked back. Then I noticed the crowd around me. OmiGod! Those beady eyes. That smirk!

At that point, I woke up in a cold sweat. Thank God. I puttered into my office and turned on the internets, going immediately to Memorandum to see what people were writing about. An article caught my eye and after reading the headline, my blood froze, my mouth opened in a silent scream of anguish and despair.

It can’t be, I told myself. But there it was in black and white – my metaphorical dream come to life:

President Bush was asked by a SkyNews correspondent whether the end of his term marked the end of the Bush presidential dynasty that began with his father’s Oval Office tenure 20 years ago.

In response, Bush singled out his brother, who has often been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential contender. “Well, we’ve got another one out there who did a fabulous job as governor of Florida, and that’s Jeb,” he said. “But you know, you better ask him whether or not he’s thinking of running. But he’d be a great president.”

There had been wide speculation in 2000 that Jeb Bush would enter the Republican primary race that was won by his brother.

During the SkyNews interview, first lady Laura Bush added that public service was an “unbelievable” life.

“One of the reasons George and his brother, Jeb, served in office is because they admired their father [Presient George H.W. Bush] so much,” she said.

Asked whether that meant her husband was not “the last Bush,” she responded: “Well, who knows. We’ll see.”

No, no, and I say no again. I cannot – will not – accept this affront tothe sancity of our republic. Bad enough that Hillary ran this year. But three presidents from one family? Makes us look like a goddamn banana republic. I don’t care how competent Jeb is. I don’t care if people think he’d be the best president to come along since Michael Douglas played that guy who got to do the slap and tickle with Annette Benning (“I’m going to get the guns.”). I will pray to the political gods that they spare us the prospect of another Bush – Jesus I don’t believe I’m saying it – ANOTHER BUSH IN THE WHITE HOUSE!

We have suffered through rah rah Bush and now compassionate conservative Bush with a guy possesing the morals of an alley cat and the hormones of a teenager in between. No wonder people are going crazy over Obama. The guy seems almost normal by comparison. Who cares if he hangs around with bigots, crooks, radicals, and terrorists? At least his name doesn’t conjure up nightmares of dynastic wars as one branch of the Bush family eventually splits off and we have our very own “War of the Roses.” Imagine the horror! Legions of Bushbots ravaging the countryside, raping and pillaging in the name of one Bush or another.

Some may bring up the Kennedy’s as a example of true dynastic American politics. They would be right to a point. Many expected Bobby Kennedy to win in 1968, serve for 8 years to be followed by Ted Kennedy for another 8 years. From there, any one of a half dozen of the 2nd generation Kennedy children could have vied for the presidency.

This nightmare never came to pass thank God. But the political success of the Kennedy family nevertheless shows a disconcerting eagerness by the American people to embrace this kind of “royalty in all but name” that we get from the Bush’s and Kennedys.

Witness the goo goo eyes the American people made at that little waif of a princess Diana. I found it creepy that her death would have elicited such an outpouring of grief in this country. The “People’s Princess” indeed. Spoiled, rich, bratty, a shameless publicity hound, the fact that she actually believed that because she was porked by some Duke or other and her resulting whelp was deserving of being King of England just because of who his father was is so un-American that I thought I heard John Adams crying out in pain and anguish from the grave. Diana did absolutely nothing in the entire span of her privileged, sheltered existence to warrant anything except our contempt. She shamelessly used her children in her war with her philandering Dumbo of a husband while jumping from bed to bed herself. The antics of the super-rich may make for interesting tabloid reading but should hardly interest good republicans such as ourselves.

Speaking of Adams, his son became president of course. But not until a decent interval had passed – nearly 25 years. Now we are looking at the nauseating prospect of three Bush’s as president in about a generation. And God knows how many lord and lady Bushes are waiting in the wings out there, just waiting for their chance.

True nightmare scenario; Jenna is eligible to run in 2020.

It used to be that children of privilege either spent their lives in dissolute hedonism, burning through the family fortune as fast as their self-destructive behavoir would let them. Or, they were groomed to enter the family business in order to protect the assets of those who came before them.

The Kennedys and Bushes enter politics and run for president for exactly the same reason. And from my point of view, it’s no way to run a republic.

By: Rick Moran at 8:07 am | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (18)

Conservatism Today linked with Say 'no' to Jeb, Jenna and the Rest of the Bushes...