Happy Fourth of July!

July 4, 2015

independence day patriots

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 239 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’ve done pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, some of them serious, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

By the way, at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson asks us to consider how the Declaration’s list of King George’s offenses against the (then English) constitutional order and the rights of the American people might well also apply to President Obama.

A lot’s been written around the Web about today on the meaning of Independence day, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with the thoughts of historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) who, writing in National Review in 2008 (2) at a time of growing national discord, wanted to remind us that things often had been much worse and that, on that 4th of July six years ago, we could use a little perspective:

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when
New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the
state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire
system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1863 when Americans
awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.


We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the
work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had
been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of
American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific
in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank
God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving
American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in
to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country
was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic
convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979,
a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages
taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still
being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central
America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment,
8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening
international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We
live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful
republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of
our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our
unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and
self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect
as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our
ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered
miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the
present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

Still holds true, I think.

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.  smiley us flag

RELATED: Also from 2008, a love-letter to America. There is a point of view that sees the American Revolution as a second English Civil War. It’s an opinion with some merit, I think, given that the Patriots saw themselves as defenders of rights granted under the Bill of Rights of 1689. Continuing that theme at National Review, Daniel Hannan, a British MEP who’s more of a Patriot than many Americans I know these days, writes about the meaning of the forgotten flag of the American Revolution. Also at NR, British emigrant to America Charles Cooke considers the civil war of 1776. Cooke’s articles should be on your must-reading list. On American exceptionalism, Jonah Goldberg looks at how progressives really resent it. Finally, Salena Zito takes us to where independence began.

Footnotes:
(1) aka, my spiritual leader
(2) Sorry, the old link is broken, and National Review can’t be bothered to provide a searchable archive. Bad show, NR, bad show. Update: Found a re-posting. Do read it all.


Shocker! Pudgy North Korean dictator executes another traitor to the State

July 2, 2015
"You are too short! banished!"

“No Starbucks? You die!!”

This time not a relative or a general, but the architect who designed the new Pyongyang airport:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un posed for one of his trademark glossy photo shoots in Pyongyang’s new airport this week – but a different story had unfolded behind the scenes.

Kim smiled as he posed next to chocolate fountains and espresso bars – but in in private was so furious at ‘defects’ that he had the airport’s designer killed.

Executions are common in North Korea, with senior officials being killed for offences as minor as watching South Korean soap operas.

Airport design chief Ma Won Chun disappeared late last year, and is thought to have been executed after Kim voiced his dissatisfaction with the airport, according to The Diplomat.

Chun was executed for ‘for corrupt practices and failure to follow orders.’

“Corrupt practices,” eh? TSA is lucky they don’t work for Kim…

No word on whether the unfortunate designer was killed by mortar fire, antiaircraft guns, flamethrower, or being fed to hungry dogs.

PS: I have to admit, given the long lines at LAX, the thought does have its appeal.


Jonah Goldberg is right: there is no compromise with culture warriors – Updated

July 1, 2015

liberal tolerance

And by culture warriors I don’t mean social conservatives; they’ve been on the defensive for so many years, I suspect many would be happy with a social compact or understanding that just left them alone.

No, I’m referring to the culture warriors on the Left (and their brethren, the Social Justice Warriors). They demand not only tolerance, but that you celebrate their preferences and beliefs. All of them. And if you disagree, then keep silent, you racist, White-privileged, heteronormative homophobe! If you don’t, you’ll be punished…

Sorry. Got a bit carried away there.

The point is that CWs and SJWs never have a moment of “enough,” a point whereat they decide they’ve achieved their goals, and now it’s time for everyone to relax, for the lion to lie down with the lamb.

Instead, when one victory is achieved, it’s time to push for another and another and another, until all opposition is crushed. In the name of democracy and justice, of course.

That’s the thrust of Jonah Goldberg’s article on Culture Warriors and compromise, and he provides some illustrations:

It is something of a secular piety to bemoan political polarization in this nation. But polarization in and of itself shouldn’t be a problem in a democracy. The whole point of having a democratic republic, never mind the Bill of Rights, is to give people the right to disagree.

A deeper and more poisonous problem is the breakdown in trust. Again and again, progressives insist that their goals are reasonable and limited. Proponents of gay marriage insisted that they merely wanted the same rights to marry as everyone else. They mocked, scorned, and belittled anyone who suggested that polygamy would be next on their agenda. Until they started winning. In 2013, a headline in Slate declared “Legalize Polygamy!” and a writer at the Economist editorialized, “And now on to polygamy.” The Atlantic ran a fawning piece on Diana Adams and her quest for a polyamorous “alternative to marriage.”

We were also told that the fight for marriage equality had nothing to do with a larger war against organized religion and religious freedom. But we now know that was a lie, too. The ACLU has reversed its position on religious-freedom laws, in line with the Left’s scorched-earth attacks on religious institutions and private businesses that won’t – or can’t – embrace the secular fatwa that everyone must celebrate “love” as defined by the Left.

Jonah concludes with a depressing realization: these people “can’t take ‘yes’ for an answer.”

In other words, and as he describes brilliantly in Liberal Fascism, leftist ideology is all-encompassing; it cannot leave anything outside its field of control. No deviation is allowed, and all in an ideal world would be part of a right-thinking “unity,” a State larger than any individual. If you’re an individual who does not celebrate “correct thought” or an organization whose beliefs run counter to the doctrine of the culture warriors –say, for example, a church that views marriage as a divinely created institution to be entered into by a man and a woman only– you cannot be left to your own devices. You must be made to conform. And telling lies along the way to lull you until a point is reached at which you can no longer resist is just fine and dandy.

And that can’t be good for our politics.

UPDATE: My friend “ExJon” has come up with the perfect bumper sticker.


Climate Craziness of the Week: Center for Biological Diversity petitions EPA to list CO2 as a ‘toxic substance’

July 1, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

Right. We’d better ban Humans now, since we all breathe out poison. And I wouldn’t be surprised if EPA got right on that one.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

thescream-co2From the “everybody breathes out poison” department. WUWT reader “Hell_Is_Like_Newark” writes:

The Center for Biological Diversity has issued a petition to get CO2 listed as a toxic substance.  CO2 will join the ranks of dioxin, cyanide, etc.

For Immediate Release, June 30, 2015

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 632-5308, miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

Legal Petition Urges EPA to Save Sea Life, Regulate CO2 as Toxic Substance

WASHINGTON— With the world’s oceans and sea life facing an unprecedented crisis from ocean acidification, the Center for Biological Diversity and former Environmental Protection Agency scientist Dr. Donn Viviani today formally petitioned the Obama administration to regulate carbon dioxide under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. The first-of-its-kind petition under the toxics act seeks widespread reduction of CO2 because it contributes to ocean acidification, driving the destruction of coral reefs and threatening nearly every form of sea life, from tiny plankton to fish, whales and…

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(Video) What makes America different?

June 30, 2015

For Prager University, Australian columnist Nick Adams offers an outsider’s view of what makes the United States special. Hint: it’s the right to fail.

There’s a lot of truth to that observation, if you think of the people who’ve tried, failed, then tried again and succeeded, in the process making our lives better.

Sometimes an outsider’s view is just what’s needed.


Assad to use (Saddam’s?) chemical weapons in desperation?

June 29, 2015
x

Yet another Baathist murderer

But… But… But wait! Obama said Syria didn’t have any chemical munitions anymore!

Well… About that.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe there is a strong possibility the Assad regime will use chemical weapons on a large scale as part of a last-ditch effort to protect key Syrian government strongholds if Islamist fighters and other rebels try to overrun them, U.S. officials said.

Analysts and policy makers have been poring over all available intelligence hoping to determine what types of chemical weapons the regime might be able to deploy and what event or events might trigger their use, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Last year, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad let international inspectors oversee the removal of what President Barack Obama called the regime’s most deadly chemical weapons. The deal averted U.S. airstrikes that would have come in retaliation for an Aug. 21, 2013, sarin-gas attack that killed more than 1,400 people.

Since then, the U.S. officials said, the Assad regime has developed and deployed a new type of chemical bomb filled with chlorine, which Mr. Assad could now decide to use on a larger scale in key areas. U.S. officials also suspect the regime may have squirreled away at least a small reserve of the chemical precursors needed to make nerve agents sarin or VX. Use of those chemicals would raise greater international concerns because they are more deadly than chlorine and were supposed to have been eliminated.

As a reminder, this is what the president said:

Assad gave up his chemical weapons. And that’s not speculation on our part. That, in fact, has been confirmed by the organization internationally that is charged with eliminating chemical weapons.

I guess no one told our fourth-greatest president ever “not quite.”

Regardless, the WSJ article mentioned Syria “developed” new weapons in the time since the inspections and removal. And  perhaps they did; with Iranian money and logistical help it wouldn’t be at all surprising. But, later in the article, there is this interesting snippet:

More worrying, U.S. officials said, would be the possibility that Mr. Assad could tap into a secret supply of sarin and VX. He might also be trying to reconstitute elements of his chemical-weapons program.

Hmmm… Where could this secret supply have come from? Sure, Assad could have squirreled it away to hide it from the original inspectors, but there’s another possibility: it’s stock that Saddam shipped to Syria before we took him out in 2003:

“There are weapons of mass destruction gone out from Iraq to Syria, and they must be found and returned to safe hands,” [former Iraq General George] Sada said. “I am confident they were taken over.”

(…)

Mr. Sada, 65, told the Sun that the pilots of the two airliners that transported the weapons of mass destruction to Syria from Iraq approached him in the middle of 2004, after Saddam was captured by American troops.

“I know them very well. They are very good friends of mine. We trust each other. We are friends as pilots,” Mr. Sada said of the two pilots. He declined to disclose their names, saying they are concerned for their safety. But he said they are now employed by other airlines outside Iraq.

The pilots told Mr. Sada that two Iraqi Airways Boeings were converted to cargo planes by removing the seats, Mr. Sada said. Then Special Republican Guard brigades loaded materials onto the planes, he said, including “yellow barrels with skull and crossbones on each barrel.” The pilots said there was also a ground convoy of trucks.

The flights – 56 in total, Mr. Sada said – attracted little notice because they were thought to be civilian flights providing relief from Iraq to Syria, which had suffered a flood after a dam collapse in June of 2002.

“Saddam realized, this time, the Americans are coming,” Mr. Sada said. “They handed over the weapons of mass destruction to the Syrians.”

There were rumors of this at the time of the invasion and for years afterward, never substantiated, but never wholly dismissed, either. One speculation had it that the WMDs were secreted in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley, an area control by Iran and Syria’s client, Hizbullah. Could Iran have authorized Hizbullah to give some of the old Iraqi stock to Assad? Strategically, they need to gain/keep control of Syria to funnel aid to Hizbullah, so that the latter can keep threatening Israel. So, if such weapons exist, and if Assad’s situation is as desperate as the Journal article makes it out to be, then it’s not beyond the pale to imagine.

Saddam’s great legacy is murder, after all.

via Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt newsletter


Obamacare and the Odious Anti-Constitutionalism of Chief Justice John Roberts

June 28, 2015

Phineas Fahrquar:

I was going to write a long post about the three rotten Supreme Court decisions in two days at the end of this last week –Obamacare, “Disparate impact,” and gay marriage (I support SSM, but Kennedy’s opinion is a judicial farrago.), but Dan sums it all up quite nicely for me, even though he’s only talking about Obamacare.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

I feel compelled to comment on the Supreme Court’s latest Obamacare decision, though I could sum up my reaction with one word: disgust.

  • I’m disgusted that we had politicians who decided in 2009 and 2010 to further screw up the healthcare system with Obamacare.
  • I’m disgusted the IRS then decided to arbitrarily change the law in order to provide subsidies to people getting insurance through the federal exchange, even though the law explicitly says those handouts were only supposed to go to those getting policies through state exchanges (as the oily Jonathan Gruber openly admitted).
  • I’m disgusted that the lawyers at the Justice Department and the Office of White House Counsel didn’t have the integrity to say that handouts could only be given to people using state exchanges.
  • But most of all, I’m disgusted that the Supreme Court once again has decided to put politics above the Constitution.

In…

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