Tag Archives: thomas paine

Historical ignorance

You already know this, but the Tea Party nuts et al, and I include Ron Paul as chief among them though he’s not a tea partier per se, have no fucking clue what they’re talking about. The raise the mighty specter of the Founders for damn near everything. Or the Constitution, which, as far as they’re concerned, is a closed and static document. Not surprising since they consider the bible in the same light. The King James version, of course, from the 17th century, as if the damn thing sprung forth whole and in English at that time.

Ron Paul, for example, opined about Wednesday’s recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board to ban non-emergency phone calls and texting. Sayeth Dr. Paul,

I was thinking about that because it was in the news today. So I went to the Constitution and I looked at Article 1, Section 8. There is nothing in there about telephones. “Then I thought, ‘Well there is nothing in there about what you can do and can’t do when you are driving in a horse and buggy either.’

But did that second thought bring some sense into Paul’s head? Oh, no. He just used it for his contention that the federal government shouldn’t be regulating anything at all, that it should just be a free-for-all here on planet earth.

We know how well that’s worked out so far.

As for the Founders, well, just take a look at the bozos in colonial get-ups pretending they’re the direct descendants of the Boston Tea Party, which, in fact, was a protest against corporation getting special treatment by the English government. Got that one backwards, morons.

And they’re all up in arms to make the military bigger, to strengthen “national security,” even if it means taking liberties with our liberties, which will be just fine as long as it’s Occupiers and the like having their liberties infringed upon and not them. And that, it seems to me, goes directly against the Constitution.

The Founders themselves got that idea. Here’s Ben Franklin:

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Hey, I’m down with that. But even George Washington, who was, you know, like the first president and the general who earned us our independence from England, wasn’t keen on all that military and national security crap either. Says he,

Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty.

I know, that one probably uses too many big words for some of the more unenlightened among us to understand. But back then, even the idiots had a better vocabulary, and they weren’t happy with Washington’s positions on liberty either. They accused him of bribery and treason. Sayeth George,

I am accused of being the enemy of America and subject to the influence of a foreign country.

Further, Washington said, he was under near constant attack by the idiocracy. His enemies, he said, portrayed him in “indecent terms” that could barely compare “to a common pickpocket.”

Sound familiar? Now, “common pickpocket” isn’t such a broad smear these days since bankers have been getting away with it for decades with the blessings of the Republican party and some Democrats. But back in the day, when the general attitude was more civilized and less honest, that was a very bad thing indeed.

Now, it’s true that Thomas Jefferson wrote that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants,” but he had in mind actual tyrants and actual patriots, not the play variety with false accusations.

Jefferson also had a few other things to say about liberty. Like

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

and

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.

and of course

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.

I don’t know about you, but that seems awfully clear to me. Looking a few more of the Founders positions sort of makes the cafeteria-style picking and choosing that conservatives employ look a little, well, cherry-picked.

The man who wrote the book on liberty, Thomas Paine, was pretty adamant too.

He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.

Take that, Gitmo.

And just for fun, here’s a little note from James Monroe:

To impose taxes when the public exigencies require them is an obligation of the most sacred character, especially with a free people.

Used to be that Americans understood their history, or at least the part about how and why we became a country. I can show you things Andy Jackson, that son of a bitch, said about liberty and equal rights and such, but the bastard only applied those to white people and certainly not those the Europeans stole the place from. And of course the Founders themselves saw fit to make slaves 3/5th of a person. And women? Not mentioned in the Constitution either, I’m afraid.

The point is that the Founders weren’t perfect, and neither was the Constitution. But the Founders were smart enough to realize that and set it all up so laws could be written, regulations could be established and even the Constitution itself could be changed, although that’s a tad hard to do until enough Americans evolve into sanity on whatever the issue is. Barack Obama:

I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we’ve struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We’ve made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.

Ah, politics. Such a load of crap, dontcha think? There’s the news this week that Obama has decided he will, in fact, sign the defense authorization act, which supposedly includes passages that would make indefinite detentions of American citizens a reality. At least that’s what all my lefty Twitterers are saying. Me, I haven’t read the bill, and I doubt they have either. I’m not saying it isn’t true, mind you. I am saying we don’t know until we read the damn thing. Rep. Adam Smith has read it. In fact, he worked on it. Read what he has to say about indefinite detentions of Americans here.

Whatever the truth of the text, Obama withdrew his veto threat because they came up with some “softer” language on detentions and a couple of other things. But I’m seeing all these lefties swear they’ll never vote for Obama now.

Is that wise? Isn’t that how we got eight years of George W. Bush? Do we really want to elect Newt Gingrich? Or some other nutcase who has yet to appear on the horizon? I don’t think Sick Rantorum has had his time in the front-runner’s position yet. OK, so maybe Republicans could come to their senses and nominate Huntsman or Johnson or somebody else who hasn’t succumbed to brain rot. But don’t hold your breath.

And don’t give me any bullshit about how we need a viable third party. This isn’t the 19th century when that worked. Or actually didn’t, when you look at the history. I’m afraid I’m with the general on this one. George Washington opposed parties, period.

There is an opinion, that parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the Government, and serve to keep alive the spirit of Liberty. This within certain limits is probably true; and in Governments of a Monarchical cast, Patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of party. But in those of the popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged. From their natural tendency, it is certain there will always be enough of that spirit for every salutary purpose. And, there being constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be, by force of public opinion, to mitigate and assuage it. A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume.

Again, probably too many big words. But here’s the gist: Parties are a bad thing because they tend to create a slavish loyalty not to the country or the people but to the party. That shouldn’t be allowed to happen, but since we already have parties, we’re gonna have to really be on guard to keep the parties’ natural tendencies from engulfing us.

Oops, too late. We failed on the “uniform vigilance” thing.

The Founders, they may have done and said some stupid things, but they were sure right about what it would take to maintain the liberty they fought for. And we have let them down.