Thursday, February 21, 2013

John Adams on Property Rights and Liberty, 1787.

John Adams on Property Rights and Liberty, 1787. “Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States.” The Works of John Adams. Edited by Charles Francis Adams. 10 vols. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1850-1856. Vol. 6, pp. 8-9. Also find it here.

Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or even if we leave them out of the question, a great majority of every nation is wholly destitute of property, except a small quantity of clothes, and a few trifles of other movables. Would Mr. Nedham be responsible that, if all were to be decided by a vote of the majority, the eight or nine millions who have no property, would not think of usurping over the rights of the one or two millions who have? Property is surely a right of mankind as really as liberty. Perhaps, at first, prejudice, habit, shame or fear, principle or religion, would restrain the poor from attacking the rich, and the idle from usurping on the industrious; but the time would not be long before courage and enterprise would come, and pretexts be invented by degrees, to countenance the majority in dividing all the property among them, or at least, in sharing it equally with its present possessors. Debts would be abolished first; taxes laid heavy on the rich, and not at all on the others; and at last a downright equal division of every thing be demanded, and voted. What would be the consequence of this? The idle, the vicious, the intemperate, would rush into the utmost extravagance of debauchery, sell and spend all their share, and then demand a new division of those who purchased from them. The moment the idea is admitted into society, that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If “Thou shalt not covet,” and “Thou shalt not steal,” were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society, before it can be civilized or made free.

Female Teachers Having Sex with Their Students. A Disturbing Epidemic in American Schools.

Female teachers having sex with their students. Video. The O’Reilly Factor. Fox News, February 21, 2013.

The “Factor” examines a disturbing epidemic in American schools.

College Hosts Sex, Masturbation Tutorial – Inside a Church. By Katie McHugh.

College Hosts Sex, Masturbation Tutorial –Inside a Church. By Katie McHugh. The College Fix, February 21, 2013.

The Female Orgasm, Fifty Shades of Grey,and Feminism’s Schizophrenia. By Elizabeth Husmann. The College Fix, February 8, 2013.

British MP George Galloway Refuses to Debate with Israelis. By Jonny Paul.

British MP refuses to debate with Israelis. By Jonny Paul. Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2013.

George Galloway Storms Out of Debate with Israeli Student. Video. The Next Viral Videos, February 21, 2013. YouTube.

Michael Coren on anti-Semitic clown George Galloway. Video, February 21, 2013. YouTube.

John Bolton: Suspend U.S. Aid to Egypt Over Access to Benghazi Suspect.

Cut U.S. Aid to Egypt Over Access to Benghazi Suspect? Amb. John Bolton Weighs In. Video. America Live with Megyn Kelly. Fox News, February 21, 2013.

U.S. denied direct access to Benghazi suspect held in Egypt. By Catherine Herridge., February 21, 2013.

More on Morsi and Egypt here.

Changing Poverty Into Opportunity. By Jim Wallis.

Changing Poverty Into Opportunity: A Moral Cause To Bring Us Together. By Jim Wallis. Sojourners, February 21, 2013.


Ideological debates over the role of government are the real battle in the nation’s capital — more than the debt crisis. Political calculations about the next election are more important to many of our political leaders than the common good of the country.

It’s just time to move on from the partisan politics that has polarized and paralyzed us for so long — by committing ourselves to moral issues that could and should bring us together. The first will be comprehensive immigration reform, which will change the lives of 12 million people in this country, lift many out of poverty, and help the economy at the same time. This is a clear example of how the faith community has changed, and now come together to become a political game changer in Washington, D.C., at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue on both sides of the aisle.

And it’s time to make another moral commitment in the midst of our growing economic recovery — to include poor families and change poverty into opportunity. Fighting poverty must not be a partisan issue. When we look at both the causes and the solutions, this battle should bring both liberals and conservatives together. Overcoming poverty, by creating opportunity, happens because of three very basic things that most of us can agree on: family, education, and work. All three are crucial and necessary in moving people out of poverty and into opportunity.

Let’s break it down.

Family: Helping to create and support strong and stable families is foundational to overcoming poverty. All the data — from both liberal and conservative think tanks — show that. The experiences of those of us who have lived and worked in poor neighborhoods show that. Good parenting from both mothers and fathers can do more than anything else to shape and guide the lives of children; and fractured and dislocated family environments lead to all kinds of destruction.

Education: Learning, training, acquiring skills, and developing good habits and disciplines is clearly the best pathway out of poverty — all of our data and experiences show that too. Success in school clearly leads to success in life, while failures in school lead to lives of one failure after another. Teachers are the key here. They are the people who are with our kids long enough every day to help change their lives — or not. Where schools are not doing their jobs, students can’t escape the prison of poverty — and we need education to work all the way from pre-school to college.

Work: If you work hard, full time, and live responsibly, you should not have to live in poverty in America — but many families still do because they don’t have jobs that pay them enough to succeed. We need good jobs that can support strong families; it is as simple as that. Living well requires jobs that pay living wages, and we have been losing that battle now for decades. America’s creed as the land of opportunity has all but disappeared, as we now have less social mobility than any other developed nation except for Great Britain! For the first time, children are not doing better, or even as well, as their parents did. Work has to pay.

When you think about it, both liberals and conservatives could and should support all three of those crucial ingredients to overcoming poverty with opportunity: family, education, and work. But instead they just continue to fight and blame each other for poverty.

As Country Club Republicans Link Up With the Democratic Ruling Class, Millions of Voters Are Orphaned. By Angelo Codevilla.

As Country Club Republicans Link Up With The Democratic Ruling Class, Millions Of Voters Are Orphaned. By Angelo Codevilla. Forbes, February 20, 2013.

America’s Ruling Class – And the Perils of Revolution. The American Spectator, July/August 2010. Also find it here.

Codevilla, As Country Club Republicans . . .:

On January 1, 2013 one third of Republican congressmen, following their leaders, joined with nearly all Democrats to legislate higher taxes and more subsidies for Democratic constituencies. Two thirds voted no, following the people who had elected them. For generations, the Republican Party had presented itself as the political vehicle for Americans whose opposition to ever-bigger government financed by ever-higher taxes makes them a “country class.”  Yet modern Republican leaders, with the exception of the Reagan Administration, have been partners in the expansion of government, indeed in the growth of a government-based “ruling class.” They have relished that role despite their voters. Thus these leaders gradually solidified their choice to no longer represent what had been their constituency, but to openly adopt the identity of junior partners in that ruling class. By repeatedly passing bills that contradict the identity of Republican voters and of the majority of Republican elected representatives, the Republican leadership has made political orphans of millions of Americans. In short, at the outset of 2013 a substantial portion of America finds itself un-represented, while Republican leaders increasingly represent only themselves.

By the law of supply and demand, millions of Americans, (arguably a majority) cannot remain without representation. Increasingly the top people in government, corporations, and the media collude and demand submission as did the royal courts of old. This marks these political orphans as a “country class.” In 1776 America’s country class responded to lack of representation by uniting under the concept: “all men are created equal.” In our time, its disparate sectors’ common sentiment is more like: “who the hell do they think they are?”

The ever-growing U.S. government has an edgy social, ethical, and political character. It is distasteful to a majority of persons who vote Republican and to independent voters, as well as to perhaps one fifth of those who vote Democrat. The Republican leadership’s kinship with the socio-political class that runs modern government is deep. Country class Americans have but to glance at the Media to hear themselves insulted from on high as greedy, racist, violent, ignorant extremists. Yet far has it been from the Republican leadership to defend them. Whenever possible, the Republican Establishment has chosen candidates for office – especially the Presidency – who have ignored, soft-pedaled or given mere lip service to their voters’ identities and concerns.

Thus public opinion polls confirm that some two thirds of Americans feel that government is “them” not “us,” that government has been taking the country in the wrong direction, and that such sentiments largely parallel partisan identification: While a majority of Democrats feel that officials who bear that label represent them well, only about a fourth of Republican voters and an even smaller proportion of independents trust Republican officials to be on their side. Again: While the ruling class is well represented by the Democratic Party, the country class is not represented politically – by the Republican Party or by any other. Well or badly, its demand for representation will be met.

. . . . . . . . . .

In our time, the Democratic Party gave up the diversity that had characterized it since Jeffersonian times. Giving up the South, which had been its main bastion since the Civil War as well as the working classes that had been the heart of its big city machines from Boston to San Diego, it came to consist almost exclusively of constituencies that make up government itself or benefit from government. Big business, increasingly dependent on government contracts and regulation, became a virtual adjunct of the contracting agents and regulators. Democrats’ traditional labor union auxiliaries shifted from private employees to public. Administrators of government programs of all kinds, notably public assistance, recruited their clientele of dependents into the Party’s base. Democrats, formerly the party of slavery and segregation, secured the allegiance of racial minorities by unrelenting assertions that the rest of American society is racist. Administrators and teachers at all levels of education taught two generations that they are brighter and better educated than the rest of Americans, whose objections to the schools’ (and the Party’s) prescriptions need not be taken seriously.

It is impossible to overstate the importance of American education’s centralization, intellectual homogenization and partisanship in the formation of the ruling class’ leadership. Many have noted the increasing stratification of American society and that, unlike in decades past, entry into its top levels now depends largely on graduation from elite universities. As Charles Murray has noted, their graduates tend to marry one another, perpetuating what they like to call a “meritocracy.” But this is rule not by the meritorious, rather by the merely credentialed – because the credentials are suspect. As Ron Unz  has shown, nowadays entry into the ivied gateways to power is by co-option, not merit. Moreover, the amount of study required at these universities leaves their products with more pretense than knowledge or skill. The results of their management– debt, decreased household net worth, increased social strife – show that America has been practicing negative selection of elites.

Nevertheless as the Democratic Party has grown its constituent parts into a massive complex of patronage, its near monopoly of education has endowed its leaders ever more firmly with the conviction that they are as entitled to deference and perquisites as they are to ruling. The host of its non-governmental but government-financed entities, such as Planned Parenthood and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, argue for government funding by stating, correctly, that they are pursuing the public interest as government itself defines it.

Thus by the turn of the twenty first century America had a bona fide ruling class that transcends government and sees itself at once as distinct from the rest of society – and as the only element thereof that may act on its behalf. It rules – to use New York Times columnist David Brooks’ characterization of Barack Obama – “as a visitor from a morally superior civilization.” The civilization of the ruling class does not concede that those who resist it have any moral or intellectual right, and only reluctantly any civil right, to do so. Resistance is illegitimate because it can come only from low motives. President Obama’s statement that Republican legislators – and hence the people who elect them – don’t care whether “seniors have decent health care…children have enough to eat” is typical.

. . . . . . . . . .

In sum, the closer one gets to the Republican Party’s voters, the more the Party looks like Goldwater and Reagan. The closer one gets to its top, the more it looks like the ghost of Rockefeller. Consider 2012: the party chose for President someone preferred by only one fourth of its voters – Mitt Romney, whose first youthful venture in politics had been to take part in the political blackballing of Barry Goldwater.

. . . . . . . . . .

A new party is likely to arise because the public holds both Republicans and Democrats responsible for the nation’s unsustainable course. Indebtedness cannot increase endlessly. Nor can regulations pile on top of regulations while the officials who promulgate them – and their pensions – continue to grow, without crushing those beneath. Nor can the population’s rush to disability status and other forms of public assistance, or the no-win wars that have resulted in “open season” on Americans around the world, continue without catharsis. One half of the population cannot continue passively to absorb insults without pushing back. When – sooner rather than later – events collapse this house of cards, it will be hard to credibly advocate a better future while bearing a label that advertises responsibility for the present. Why trust any Republican qua Republican?

To represent the country class, to set about reversing the ills the ruling class imposed on America, a party would have to confront the ruling class’ pretenses, with unity and force comparable to that by which these were imposed. There will be no alternative to all the country class’ various components acting jointly on measures dear to each. For example: since the connection between government and finance, the principle that large institutions are “too big to fail,” are dear to America’s best-connected people who can be counted on to threaten “systemic collapse,” breaking it will require the support of sectors of the country class for which “corporate welfare” is less of a concern than the welfare effects of the Social Security system’s component that funds fake disability and drug addiction – something about which macroeconomists mostly care little – and vice versa. Similarly the entire country class has as much interest in asserting the right of armed self-defense as does any gun owner, because the principle of constitutional right is indivisible. Nothing will require greater unity against greater resistance than ending government promotion of abortion and homosexuality. Yet those whose main concerns are with financial probity cannot afford continuing to neglect that capitalist economics presupposes a morally upright people. All this illustrates the need for, and the meaning of, a political party: disparate elements acting all of one and one for all.

Diversity is not a natural barrier to pursuing common interests. Franklin Roosevelt’s Democratic party included every unreconstructed segregationist in the South, as well as nearly all Progressives in university towns like Hyde Park, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin – people who despised not only the segregationists but also the Catholic Poles, Italians, and Irish from Milwaukee to Boston whose faith and habits were as foreign to them as they were to Southerners. Yet all understood that being mutually supportive of Democrats was the key to getting what they wanted.

The common, unifying element of the several country class’ sectors is the ruling class’ insistence, founded on force rather than reason, that their concerns are illegitimate, that they are illegitimate. The ruling class demonizes the country class piece by piece. Piece by piece it cannot defend itself, much less can it set the country on a course of domestic and international peace, freedom and solvency. None of the country class’ politically active elements can, by themselves, hope to achieve any of their goals because they can be sure that the entire ruling class’ resources will be focused on them whenever circumstances seem propitious. In 2012 for example, the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms seemed politically safe. Then, one disaster brought seemingly endless resources from every corner of the ruling class to bear on its defenders. The rest of the country class’ politically active elements stood by, sympathetically, but without a vehicle for helping. Each of these elements should have learned that none can hope for indulgence from any part of the ruling class. They can look only to others who are under attack as they themselves are.

Far be it from a party that represents the country class to ape what it abhors by imposing punitive measures through party line votes covered by barrages of insults: few in the country class’ parts want to become a ruling class. Yet the country class, to defend itself, to cut down the forest of subsidies and privileges that choke America, to curb the arrogance of modern government, cannot shy away from offending the ruling class’ intellectual and moral pretenses. Events themselves show how dysfunctional the ruling class is. But only a political party worthy of the name can marshal the combination of reason, brutal images, and consistency adequately to represent America’s country class.

The GOP’s Intellectual Unfreezing. By Peter Wehner.

The GOP’s Intellectual Unfreezing. By Peter Wehner. Commentary, February 19, 2013.

How to Save the Republican Party. By Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner. Commentary, March 2013.

Reaganism After Reagan. By Ramesh Ponnuru. New York Times, February 17, 2013.


Ponnuru in his op-ed, and Gerson and I in our essay, offer up policies that we believe address the issues facing America in the 21st century. People can read both pieces and judge the merits of our recommendations. But I want to make two other points.

The first is that there is an intellectual unfreezing that is taking place within the Republican Party that is all to the good. People from different parts of the party and who represent different strands within conservatism are offering up ideas for what needs to be done. Not all of them are wise, of course, but competing ideas need to be heard. Fortunately the impulse to attack people as heretics who should be expelled from the party is for the most part being held in check. That’s not true of everyone, of course. Some people are temperamentally attracted to an auto-da-fe. But it seems to me that in general there’s a real openness on the part of Republican lawmakers and conservatives to recalibration.

The second point is that Reagan himself was a fairly creative policy entrepreneur in his own right. He advanced what was essentially a new economic theory, supply side economics, and replaced d├ętente and containment with a strategy of rolling back the Soviet empire.

Those approaches are well known and seem obvious now, but at the time they were unorthodox and controversial. It was Democrat Daniel Patrick Moynihan who in 1980 confessed, “Of a sudden, the GOP has become a party of ideas.”

Ronald Reagan adjusted his policies to meet the challenges of his time, and two generations after Reagan, Republicans and conservatives need to do the same thing.

Let the recalibration and rethinking continue.

Gallup Poll: Americans Support the Global War on Terror. By Walter Russell Mead.

Gallup Poll: Americans Support the GWOT. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, February 20, 2013.

A Meteor Reveals the Russian Character. By Masha Gessen.

Fatalistic, Reckless, Distrustful. By Masha Gessen. New York Times, February 18, 2013.

Hellfire, Morality and Strategy in the Drone Wars. By George Friedman.

Hellfire, Morality and Strategy in the Drone Wars. By George Friedman. Real Clear World, February 19, 2013.