Tuesday, July 31, 2007

State Department's Faith-Based Initiatives

I sent this letter to The Wall Street Journal on July 28th. It may or not be printed. I sent a copy of it to the State Department; there has been no response to it. But, I thought it important to post here, as well.


I read Alina L. Romanowski’s letter of July 27 in response to Bret Stephens’s Global View column, “Public Diplomacy for Dummies” (July 10). I have two questions for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs at the State Department:

First, where in the Constitution is any branch of the federal government empowered to “reach out” to any religion or to any of its adherents? Didn’t the Founders go to great pains to ensure the separation of church and state? Many of the Founders asserted quite rightly and unequivocally in their letters and public correspondence that the United States is in no way a “Christian” nation, nor was it founded on Christian moral principles.

For example, the treaty of 1797 between the U.S. and Tripoli stated that since the U.S. is not a “Christian” nation, neither Tripoli nor any of the other Barbary States had an excuse to capture “infidel” American merchant vessels and enslave their crews and passengers. (Not that this made much difference to the North African Islamist pirates, who raided Western European coastlines for slaves as far away as Iceland until well into the 18th century, acting on orders from their caliphs and sultans back home. Estimates of Europeans and Americans taken as slaves range between a million to one and a half million persons, most of whom presumably perished in servitude under their Islamic masters. But, I’m betting that neither Condi nor Karen Hughes raise this subject on their glad-handing junkets to Islamic dictatorships.)

Jefferson, Madison and John Adams remarked succinctly on the fact that the U.S. was founded on the secular, natural rights philosophy of John Locke and other political philosophers of the age, a rights philosophy that had little or nothing to do with God. “God” and “nature” were, in their deist minds, nearly synonymous. (Though Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in their recent books suggest that Jefferson especially was a “closet” atheist.)

Doubtless the “out reach” programs described by Romanowski in her letter are extensions of President Bush’s wholly unconstitutional faith-based initiatives.

Second, what makes Romanowski or anyone else in the State Department think that there could be such a thing as a “more moderate version of Islam”? Since the term “Islam” means submission, the inference is that those who submit to the creed are either converted or conquered. However, Islam can no more be made “moderate” than Christianity. It is as bloody-minded and bent on conquest as the Old Testament. It cannot be “tamed” as Christianity was in the West. It is fundamentally a political-religious moral system.

The programs Romanowksi describes constitute an unacknowledged concession that Islam is a political force, not just a religious one. Why else refer to one program as “Citizen Dialogue”?

Strip Islam of its political attributes, and most of its “moral” and religious precepts would be eviscerated, as well. What would be left would not be “Islam,” but a creed as pacific as the Amish’s.

In short, there is no accommodation of a separation of mosque and state to be found anywhere in the Koran, the Hadith, or in any Islamic jurisprudence based on Sharia law, which is to Muslims as much a guide to “moral” action as the Ten Commandments are to Christians. There is no statement in Islamic literature that even closely approximates the Christian dictum, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” Caesar and God, in Islam, are the one Allah, and Mohammed is his “prophet.”

On the whole, the programs that Romanowski boasts of implicitly promote religion. Sending American Muslims to engage in “dialogue” with foreign Muslims is no better than sending American Christians overseas to banter with foreign Christians. Or is the State Department also engaged in that unconstitutional, taxpayer-supported activity, as well?


Edward Cline
Yorktown, VA

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Your Papers, Please

Earlier this year, under “Chertoff the ‘Crime Czar’” (April 7) I remarked:

“The strongest evidence that the U.S. is not only losing the “war on terror,” but will be struck again with perhaps greater force, is the siege mentality of those charged with protecting the nation. Instead of destroying the states that sponsor terrorism, the U.S. is conducting the ‘war’ as though the enemy was some kind of super-Mafia gang whose members had to be detected and deterred. All we need do, goes the thinking, is identify the bad guys and keep them from entering the country. It elects to fight enemies dedicated to destroying this country with the methods suitable to Eliot Ness in his pursuit of bootleggers.”

I might have added that the “enemy” also includes Americans and harmless foreign visitors flying the American skies.

On my way back from the OCON conference on July 16th, I had a three-hour layover at Dallas-Ft. Worth airport (DFW) before boarding my flight to Richmond. This airport is one of the most traveler-unfriendly airports in the country. There are four main terminals – A, B, C, and D – and if one is unlucky enough to taxi up to terminal A and one’s connecting flight is at terminal D, one must rush through the throngs to find the “Sky Link” train to take to D. If one’s connecting flight is at terminal B, the same grueling exercise is necessary; on a map of DFW, A is adjacent to B, but actually not connected to it. At least, I couldn’t find a short crossover to it indicated in the bewildering array of signs.

So one boards the train and perhaps seven stops later, one arrives at the connecting terminal. Then one must find the right gate, and that could be in one of three directions and is usually a five to ten minute hike at a near run. With luck, one’s connecting flight gate hasn’t been changed.

I don’t know the financial history of DFW, that is, who or what paid for this “multiplex” abomination. But I’m betting that the Sky Link train was built with some Federal funds, and that the rest of this locked-down prison received a big share of state and Federal loot, as well, to make it so “modern.”

I confess a contempt for Texas in general. I lived there once. Its native boosters posture as really free, proud, independent individuals – “Howdy, pardner!” – whose ancestors were at the Alamo and all that. But, thanks to pork barrel politics, Texas is one of the biggest pigs at the Federal teat. The Lone Star state degenerated into the Lone Statist state, and taxpayers from Maine to Idaho are helping those “rugged” loners buy the ten-gallon hats that are as phony as the vaunted Texan “independence.”

DFW is also smoker hostile. What accounts for that must be the Bush family influence and the pull of other native anti-smoking evangelists. Unlike many other airports in the country, such as the Cincinnati airport, which provides several smokers’ lounges in its terminal complete with wall-installed lighters, DFW forces smoking travelers to make a decision: “quit” for perhaps hours before boarding a connecting flight, or go outside, if you can find an exit close to your connecting gate. That’s Texas hospitality for you.

The catch is: go outside, and go through the TSA’s pickpocket alley again. Even with a boarding pass. Which brings me to my main subject: the Transportation Safety Administration, and how futile, invasive, abusive, corrupt, and costly it is.

The TSA is futile on three counts: if Islamic terrorists strike the U.S. again, they won’t be coming through its airports. They are already here, or will find other ways into the country. Any Islamists with killing on their agenda will know that they are on various national and international watch lists (not that these are very effective anyway) and that their profiles must practically include their shoe sizes as well as their education history and national origin. They are going to poison a reservoir or run an oil tank truck through a shopping mall or the like, or work quietly to assemble the parts for a “dirty” bomb to detonate in some major city’s business district or seaport –and not to try to turn commercial aircraft into missiles again. Simply put, they are going to bypass the TSA and any other barriers erected by Homeland Security.

(The denizens of Washington D.C. needn’t worry about anything bad happening there; the Islamists have too many good friends in Congress, the White House, and the State Department whom they wouldn’t want to risk hurting or killing. So, all the security arrangements in Parasite City intended to deter terrorist attacks – the blockaded streets and surveillance and the like – are quite pointless.)

The TSA is futile because if President Bush dealt properly with this country’s enemies – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Pakistan – it would not be necessary. When this country was genuinely in a declared war with two formidable enemies in the 1940’s, air travel was not made miserable by any kind of federally imposed policy of search and seizure. Knock out or overthrow our current enemies, and their fellow travelers and jihadists in the U.S. and Europe would scurry back into their holes of anonymity, grateful that they weren’t vaporized or caught in the imam and mullah roundups. And all those power-happy unemployables waving their wands and picking through purses and feeling one’s rolled-up socks at our airports would have to find honest, productive work elsewhere.

The TSA is futile, because I got through three lighters and several packs of matches right under the noses of its thugs. I put them in the gray basket in which one is supposed to put one’s shoes and all pocket paraphernalia, including belts (women’s jewelry goes into what looks like white bedpans). Four times my basket went through their much-touted metal or illegal substance detectors, and all four times the baskets came down the ramp, their contents untouched, unscrutinized, unmolested. There is a way to fool the machines and the mini-minds that run them, which I will not divulge here. So much for the severity and thoroughness of airport security.

But a new, absurd TSA rule is: no bottled water can be brought through “security.” The water must be consumed or emptied out before a bottle can pass. Then one can fill it at a water fountain inside the terminal. Which obviates the purpose of buying spring water. What do these geniuses think anyone is going to take onboard? Nitro? Or some other, unstable, colorless, odorless liquid that won’t blow up in one’s backpack or purse on the way to the airport?

The TSA is abusive and invasive. At DFW I had my smoke, came through “security” again, then stopped to watch the unemployables put some Russian- or Polish-speaking tourists through hell. The irony is that everyone in this group was wearing an “I love America” shirt or sweater. Two were carrying small American flags on sticks. (The sticks somehow didn’t qualify as potential weapons, I guess.) One woman, who was at least 75, was made to walk through the X-ray four or five times. Each time she activated the alarm. Finally, they took her aside and repeatedly waved a wand over every inch of her body, including through her hair and between her toes. In the meantime, she was made to stand with her arms in the air. The unemployables just couldn’t figure it out.

I approached the TSA goon nearest me. “It’s the sequins,” I said.

“Huh?” the goon said, turning to me with suspicion.

“What’s setting off the alarm in the wand too is the metal in her sequins. Those sparkling things on her pullover sweater that say ‘I love America’?” I almost added “stupid,” but I wanted to see this woman’s humiliating ordeal ended, and held my tongue.

“Sir, please stand outside the security area,” answered the goon with all the patronizing officiousness of a school crossing guard.

But the goon then had a powwow with his colleagues. The woman was told to remove her sweater. She did, and walked through the X-ray again. No alarm. She was allowed to keep the sweater. Big-hearted Texans, I guess. Welcome to America, land of the free, home of the searched.

The TSA is corrupt. I have yet to see a TV special report on what happens to all the private property confiscated from passengers’ personal effects and luggage by the TSA. Its value by now must be in the billions. I’m certain it isn’t “destroyed,” and that a whole new racket has sprung into existence to “dispose” of that property. The TSA and its otherwise unemployable employees must have a vested interest in it since they’re the ones who steal it and must stow it somewhere.

But, this is a job for John Stossel and 20/20.

A brief news report on ABC last night featured an interview with a TSA official who said that “someone” is testing airport security by sending fake “bombs” through it, such as bricks of cheese with wires stuck in them. Frankly, these are either pranks or jihadists just ribbing the TSA.

The TSA is costly, not only in terms of taxpayer dollars to run and staff it and in terms of all the property that is confiscated that disappears into the black hole of corruption, but, far more importantly, in terms of abridged or surrendered rights. Are Americans growing too inured to the TSA’s legalized shakedowns? I think many of them are. The Bush administration has adopted a siege policy; most Americans have accepted and tolerate the role of being suspects.

Back in Washington D.C., Jihad Watch reports that Democrats want to remove from a Homeland Security bill a provision that protects Americans from lawsuits if they report suspicious activity on the part of Muslims and the Muslims are subsequently inconvenienced by the authorities. Doubtless Congressman Keith Ellison, Muslim and Democrat from Minnesota, is one of those who oppose the provision. Recall that Ellison, like Rosie O’Donnell, suggested that 9/11 was staged by President Bush as a ruse to seize power and blame the Muslims for the attack, just as the Reichstag fire in 1933 was staged by Hitler as an excuse to seize power and blame the Communists for the fire. He made the analogy, I didn’t.

On June 27th, several senior White House officeholders attended the rededication of the Islamic Center in Washington on its 50th anniversary. That was bad enough. Several of these “dignitaries” were women, including Fran Townsend, assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and Karen Hughes, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (another Texan and longtime crony of Bush’s). The Getty Images photo of the American dhimmis shows all the women wearing headscarves.

The White House itself has chosen to cozy up to such Islamic organizations as CAIR and MPAC, while Douglas Farah’s Counterterrorism blog reports that Bush has even extended a hand of friendship to the Muslim Brotherhood, the grandfather of most Islamic jihadist gangs. Through third parties – chief of whom is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, an unemployable of elevated rank – it is dealing with Hamas, and has publicly announced its support of Palestinian Fatah.

Yesterday, July 24th, Bush’s envoys had their second round of talks with Iran, but not about the Americans being held hostage by Snake Eyes Ahmadinejad. To demand their release would be too tactless, you know. But the spineless, Christian character of Jimmy Carter is held to be a model of moral behavior to be emulated. (But, don’t forget Ronald Reagan, who did nothing to retaliate against the murder of over 200 Marines in Lebanon.) Why accuse Iran of killing American soldiers in Iraq when its leader is open to negotiation? That would only make Ahmadinejad angry.

In the meantime, all over America, arrogant unemployables in spiffy rent-a-cop style uniforms are closely examining the contents of women’s purses and nebnosing through men’s briefcases in search of threats to the “homeland.”

And, in the meantime, I keep thinking of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, who so badly wanted to chastise the Barbary States for enslaving American citizens and seizing American property in the Mediterranean, and who each finally got his chance in 1805 and 1815. Neither Jefferson nor Madison elected to put Americans through a security wringer to ensure that the Islamists of their time didn’t slip into the “homeland” to sabotage all the canal-building projects.

They sent the U.S. Navy to the source of the problem, and that was the end of that.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mount Olympus

Very likely it is a common occurrence: attending an OCON induces in me, from the first day to the closing banquet, a state of mind that permits me to forget the “outside” world for a while, at least in a selective sense. It is out there, but I feel no compulsion to read a newspaper or watch TV news or don mental “body armor” to deflect the slings and arrows of Christians, Muslims or statists or maintain the hide of a rhinoceros when dealing with my fellow men. It is Galt’s Gulch for a week and a half, regardless of its venue. It is safe to say that most attendees, and even most OCON speakers, look forward to the respite such a conference promises, to be immersed, for all too brief a time, in a social and intellectual milieu in which one doesn’t need to fight or be in a constant combative mode. The “ominous parallels” of the outside world are left behind.

This year’s conference celebrated the 50th anniversary of the publication of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. It was held, appropriately, in the high reaches of the Rockies, about an hour and a half’s drive from Ouray, the little town that served as a model for Galt’s Gulch, where in the novel the “best and the brightest” – and the most rational – retreated from a cannibal world they chose no longer to “serve.” The official attendee count was 515, the largest attendance ever.

This is not to say there weren’t sour notes. Mountain Village, where most of the attendees stayed and which was a ten-minute gondola ride up the “hill” from Telluride, apparently reneged on its contract with ARI, so that lecture rooms and other facilities were abruptly not available because of renovations (although I observed no renovations being done in the hotel). This resulted in many of the events, including breakfasts, lunches, meetings and lectures, having to be held inside a circus-size tent erected in the plaza outside the conference center.

The other gaffe was the lunch arranged in Ouray itself. The staff at the Elks Lodge where it was to be served underestimated the appetites of some 300 Objectivists who were bussed there, leaving many attendees to find their own midday meals in town. I don’t think many attendees complained; everyone on the side trip seemed to be happy to tread the streets where Ayn Rand and Frank O’Connor walked in 1948. I hope ARI is refunded some of its money on both counts.

I went separately with some friends to Ouray that same day, arriving about two hours ahead of the bus convoy. When we parked, I immediately noticed a hand-made wooden sign in a shop window: “Galt’s Gulch, Colorado: Elevation 7,705 ft.” I went inside and asked the girl clerk about it. She knew the significance of the sign – her father, the shop’s owner, had read Atlas years ago – and said that only five of them had been made. All she knew was that some Objectivists were expected to visit the town. I warned her that she should expect to be mobbed and that she would sell every one of them, even at the posted price of $145 each.

When we returned to Ouray at the end of the day from our jeep safari to 11,700 feet, the shop window now sported an “Ouray” sign. The girl told me, with a residue of happy incredulity, that not only had she sold every one of the “Galt’s Gulch” signs (“we were wall to wall people!”), but that she had taken orders for dozens more, and had spoken with someone with ARI to make smaller reproductions of the sign for sale through ARI. As Felix Leiter once remarked to James Bond, “Nothing propinks like propinquity.” Especially in the fellowship of trade.

The main attraction of the conference was Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s six-lecture presentation, from his forthcoming book, on his DIM theory (Disintegration, Integration, Misintegration), of how to evaluate philosophical, cultural and political trends. Tore Boeckmann, Darryl Wright and Shoshana Milgram talked about the uniqueness of Atlas Shrugged as a literary work and as a philosophical phenomenon. Optional courses covered mathematics, economics, American and British history, the history of science, Plato’s Laws, property rights, the giants of law from Babylonian times up to the 19th century, and great plays. Dr. Milgram’s talk was especially fascinating; she discussed the literary origins of John Galt.

A highlight for me was Dr. John Lewis’s “The Meaning of Victory: 1945,” in which he presented the U.S.’s policy of dealing with a vanquished Imperial Japan. The principles he explicated in those lectures could just as easily have been applied to Nazi Germany, and were to a limited extent – except that the underlying irrational philosophy that governed Hitler and German culture has not been eradicated root and branch, as it was in post-war Japan by MacArthur. Dr. Lewis might agree with me that the de-Nazification of Germany should have been broadened to include a program that “de-Kantized” Germany. But, that would have been a task for a philosopher, and none practicing at the time had the proper credentials.

The same principles and policy could have been applied to a defeated Iran and Saudi Arabia, the chief state sponsors of Islamofascism, our most immediate international threats today, had our political leaders ever chose to acknowledge them and acted on that knowledge. Which is not likely now. Most of the anti-intellectual rubes, short-rangers and power-seekers in Washington want to throw in the towel in the “war on terror” and focus more on how to bring full-scale socialism to the U.S., among other statist dreams.

Coming back to the “real world” – one that we didn’t need to take seriously for a week and a half, or at least have to contend with at every corner – was as depressing an experience as I guess it was for Dagny Taggart, when John Galt dropped her off in the middle of nowhere after spending a month in “Atlantis.”

At least she didn’t need to undergo a body frisk and a baggage check.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Green Juggernaut

This carbon impact survey hosted by MSN and sponsored by Phillips and Chevy has been floating around the Objectivist blogosphere of late. The survey asks questions like what kind of car you drive and how many airplane flights you take a year, and then computes how many tons of carbon dioxide you generate per year. The page also includes a link to "Conservation International," just one of the thousands of pro-green groups that exist and whose board of directors includes individuals such as Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, actor Harrison Ford, Queen Noor of Jordan, former Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, Rob Walton of Wal-Mart, and media mogul Barry Diller.

One clearly gets the sense that the pro-industry and technology side of the debate is getting absolutely creamed by the greens. I mean after all, why is Chevy giving even one cent of support to the green lobby? Why isn't there a survey that examines survey-takers support for regulations that will lead to the downright roll-back of industrial civilization? After all, global warming is a phantom menace, but government intervention in the economy is an actual, well-established threat to human prosperity and happiness.

I think it is time to resurrect CAC's Campaign in Defense of Industry and Technology. The question that I have is how are Objectivists going to earn enough support to be able to achieve anything worthwhile? Consider the floor open to discussion and debate.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Ashland University reenters the Dark Ages

Yesterday, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported on Dr. John Lewis' recent travails at Ashland University (subscription required). For those who are unaware, here is a brief recap: After initially denying Lewis tenure this spring because Lewis supports Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, Ashland reversed itself, granting Lewis his tenure, but only the condition that he offer his resignation. Ashland acknowledged that Lewis has a superlative research and teaching record and did not proselytize his views in the classroom, yet the mere fact that Lewis is an Objectivist was enough to disqualify him from teaching at Ashland.

If this strikes you as odd, it gets even better: Ashland accepted money from the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship so Lewis and former Ashland professor C. Bradley Thompson could concentrate on Objectivist research.

Ashland's conservative leaders argued that Lewis threatened the University's Judeo-Christian mission. This claim is disingenuous; Lewis teaches classical history, not religious morals and as his spring talk at George Mason attests, Lewis is an outspoken advocate for religious and philosophic freedom and against religious tyranny. Are Ashland's standards such that it cannot tolerate an advocate for reason, tolerance and individual rights on its faculty?

And what will Lewis' dismissal mean for other Ashland faculty who fail to sufficiently toe this newly emboldened Christian line? For example, this Ashland professor teaches (or should I say dares to teach) a course on the Bible as literature. He explicitly states that his course will "read the Bible as a literary text, similar to other writings from the ancient and classical world, operating under the assumption that the Bible is a human document, an anthology of writings put together by human beings over time" (emphasis mine). Does this professor now have to fear that Ashland University's holy warriors will force him to resign too?

In my view, Ashland University's decision to force a professor like John Lewis' to resign means that this university has relegated itself to being little more than a Bible college for politically correct Republicans. If that is their wish, so be it, yet I wonder just how many of its faculty and students have signed up for that mission.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

More immigration woes

Congress' failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform is exacerbating a labor shortage in agriculture, reports Bloomberg News.

The immigration bill that was killed by the U.S. Senate focused on the nation's 12 million illegal aliens. To many farmers, the issue is more about such people as Thomas Murphy, an Irishman who leads a crew of combine operators from the U.K., cutting wheat across a swath of the Great Plains.

Murphy's crew and 2,500 other skilled, legal immigrants who come from places such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to cut grain are among the most productive workers in the U.S., gathering one-third of all the wheat in a $7.7 billion market.

That's why farmers and the companies that hire the crews say Congress's failure last week to overhaul the immigration laws will heighten an already intense labor shortage by preventing them from importing more of the English-speaking workers, even as the need for them grows. That may lower crop yields, raise food prices and force some growers out of business, they say.

"You'll have labor that simply doesn't get done,'' U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said in a June 28 interview after the Senate rejected the legislation. "We have a system that doesn't work very well, so they're really struggling." [Alan Bjerga, Bloomberg]
One wonders about a country that would rather let wheat rot in the fields over admitting productive foreigners into America so that they can be part of the harvest. After all, what lobby thinks that it benefits from barring such labor from entering the country?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Declaration of Independence

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. 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.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

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 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.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Some research help please . . .

I am quite intrigued by this quote in Elan Journo's recent op-ed The Real Disgrace: Washington's Battlefield "Ethics", but I seem to be unable to locate the original source.

Consider the waking nightmare of being a U.S. combat troop in Iraq: imagine that you are thrust into a battlefield--but purposely hamstrung by absurd restrictions. Iraqis throw Molotov cocktails (i.e., gasoline-filled bottles) at your vehicle--but you are prohibited from responding with force. Iraqis, to quote the study, "drop large chunks of concrete blocks from second story buildings or overpasses" as you drive by--but you are not allowed to respond. [emphasis mine]
I'd like to read the study Journo references, but I can't seem to find it. In my research, I scanned the report here but wasn't able to locate any mention of a failure to retaliate to attacks with concrete blocks due to Rules of Engagement concerns. Does any RoR readers know if I missed the reference or if I am looking at the right report?

I'm intrigued because one would think that this style of attack would be a particularly excellent attack to retaliate against, if only because the people involved would be very close to our troops and presumably unarmed. I'd like to see just how the US's rules of engagement bar legitimate retaliation in such instances. So accordingly, I ask if anyone else has seen mention of such attacks and a failure of US forces to properly retaliate to post any links in the comments.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Fired Up for History

I have heard nothing but rave reviews from those who have taken Scott Powell's history courses (including this online review by Teller of the comedic duo Penn & Teller and Showtime's brilliant "Bullshit!") so I am genuinely excited that I will be taking Powell's upcoming offering on European history. Unlike most historians, who simply bore you to death with contextless concretes, Powell presents history as a causally integrated narrative--the method which I find is the most rewarding way to learn new knowledge. Needless to say, I'm very excited about starting class this summer.

What I also like about Powell's courses (especially given my post last week on things that drive me nuts) is that his lectures are available via the Internet, are downloadable as mp3's (which for me means I don't need to be anchored to my computer in order to take the course), and are remarkably affordable when compared to many other Objectivist offerings.

For example, Powell's upcoming History of Europe course is a twenty-lecture, thirty-hour course, yet tuition is only $349 (or $279 for students). I think that's a pretty good deal, especially considering how expensive (in both time and money) attending the live conferences can be.