Category Archives: History

comrade-obama

Christianity and Progressivism

In a discussion at Citizen Tom’s excellent blog, he laments the loss of Christianity (along with politics) as even a topic of popular discussion. In the middle of a long and thoughtful post, with which I largely agree, he notes:

Unfortunately, with each succeeding generation, as a people we have had less success passing Christian beliefs onto the next. Therefore, even though the Bible is still a bestseller, in too many homes the Bible has become a table ornament, not a book that deserves careful and devoted study. As consequence, the values Americans once cherished, the respect we showed for each others God-given rights, have no moral foundation upon which they can now rest.

I responded there with the following observations and example:

I think that it is worth remembering that the scourge of progressivism in the United States was brought about by (mostly) God-fearing men. This is not to blame Christianity, but merely to observe that for most of the past century and a quarter there was little or no connection between belief in God (or absence of that belief) and the rise of socialist/statist bureaucracy and similar other plagues that progressives have wrought.

An example can be drawn from an early and very famous progressive, one who was tremendously influential and who was considered a quintessential Republican. Teddy Roosevelt’s speech here sounds good at first, until he reveals that he (as a proud progressive) would “grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used.”

Note that if it is not “well used,” Roosevelt felt empowered to take it and use it in a way he considered better. He just needed laws to do this … or perhaps not. He described what he meant by “well used”:

It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.

So what did Teddy Roosevelt mean by “honorably obtained”? This:

No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered—not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective—a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.

These ideas — income tax and estate tax — were years before Amendment 16. He had farmers in his sights as well:

In particular, there are strong reasons why the Departments of Agriculture of the various states, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the agricultural colleges and experiment stations should extend their work to cover all phases of farm life, instead of limiting themselves, as they have far too often limited themselves in the past, solely to the question of the production of crops.

To his credit, TR’s idea of welfare was only for those who deserved it:

The fundamental thing to do for every man is to give him a chance to reach a place in which he will make the greatest possible contribution to the public welfare. Understand what I say there. Give him a chance, not push him up if he will not be pushed. Help any man who stumbles; if he lies down, it is a poor job to try to carry him; but if he is a worthy man, try your best to see that he gets a chance to show the worth that is in him … We keep countless men from being good citizens by the conditions of life with which we surround them.

Roosevelt stated at the beginning of his speech that people would likely brand him a communist for what he was saying. He used Lincoln’s labor quote, but Lincoln was not inclined to nationalize industries to control capitalism.

But at the time time, the Christian Broadcasting Network and others have pointed out that TR was a man of profound faith:

CBN.com – One thing I have come to appreciate about Theodore Roosevelt is something that largely has been neglected by many history books. That is, the aspect of his fervent Christian faith. In some ways, he might be seen as the most Christian and the most religious of all presidents.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Amendment A: Aggregate Government Service

Term limits currently apply to the president: He or she cannot serve more than 2.5 terms.  (The half term would arise in cases where the role of president was taken over because of vacancy mid-term.)  Mark Levin’s proposal for this in The Liberty Amendments runs as follows: Continue reading

Constitutional Repair

In another blog, by the estimable Citizen Tom, I engaged a pretend conservative who regularly haunts that site. The discussion post, entitled What Do We Need to Do?, raised the issue I wrote about yesterday: How do we fix the current political problems that arise from erosion of the Constitution? Citizen Tom later promoted this comment to its own blog post.

Before we get into my reply to faux conservative “scout,” let’s talk about other alternatives: Continue reading

Constitutional Concerns

The US Constitution does not need to be replaced or scrapped, as a number of folks on the left have suggested going back to President Woodrow Wilson. It does not need to be cured of its fatal flaws, so that Obama can implement redistribution of wealth and “break free” from the negative liberties placed by the founding fathers to prevent this, as Obama said in 2001.

Nevertheless, there are major problems with our current government. Some examples after a design overview: Continue reading

IndependenceDay

Happy Fourth of July!

Long-time readers will recognize this piece from a few years back. I apologize for my absence here; some health challenges remain, and there are other issues to contend with as well. But I do not think I am done yet.

The Independence Journey

Tomorrow I travel
Across this great land
And try to unravel
How all this began

I look to the mountains
And gaze at the sea
Are these where the fountains
Of freedom might be?

The fields full of crops
The deep sylvan glade
The bustling shops
Where the future is made

The skyscrapers soaring
The bridges, the ships
The Space Shuttles roaring
On million-mile trips

But harvest, invention,
Our tools and our crafts
Are not the intention
Contained in those drafts…

“United States” seems
Like a common phrase now
But once it was dreams
Born from deep thinking brow

As the Founders grew weary
Of rough distant rule
And taxes and tariffs
Provided the fuel…

Independence declared!
Hear the bell as it rings!
That proud history shared
Isn’t based on mere “things”

The new nation caught
And flamed bright in their hearts
And though doubters still thought
That such disparate parts

Could never be coached
Or formed into one
Still ideas, once they’re broached
Sometimes see the job done

Through blood and through sweat
And through fear, war and strife
They struggled, and yet
Freedom loved, more than life

So they crafted a code
That gave people a voice
That gave promise to all
And the world, a new choice

By the people’s consent
A Republic was born
And with blood sorely spent
Broke the shackles we’d worn

Then we prospered and grew
In this fair rugged land
And to build straight and true
All the folks lent a hand

The foundation they laid
Is a strong, steady place
And the price that they paid
Gave us strength, hope, and grace

And still our Constitution
Guides the Land of the Free
And provides the solution
That made all of this be

And at last I can see
How our strength came about
Founders fought to be free
With hearts noble and stout

And they carried the day
And they brought it to us!
And we now, in our way
Undertake this great trust

For Americans make
Our America great
So I’ll pause and I’ll take
One more moment to state:

My dear friends reading here
Don’t forget where you are
We’ll defeat hate and fear
And we yet will go far

We each have work to do
(Not just do, but know why)
Now, to each one of you
Happy Fourth of July!

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

bertrand_russell

Denoting Bertrand Russell, “Red Emma” Goldman, Thomas Jefferson

(This wound up being something of a scattered ramble on different philosophers in history.) I mentioned recently Ayn Rand’s definition of selfishness, as “concerned with one’s own interests.”  It’s straightforward enough. In the ensuing discussion, I described this as less opaque than some of the definitions of Bertrand Russell.  (I had  miswritten his first name as “Bertram”; my apologies.)

I don’t have his works online (edit: found a collection), though some parts of this no doubt exist. Here’s a nice example, from his treatise on Denoting I read last year:

Thus `the father of Charles II was executed‘ becomes: `It is not always false of x that x begat Charles II and that x was executed and that “if y begat Charles II, y is identical with x” is always true of y‘.

This may seem a somewhat incredible interpretation; but I am not at present giving reasons, I am merely stating the theory.

Continue reading

category_4

Sandy was Not a Major Hurricane

One commenter asked about “major hurricanes” and why Sandy isn’t one.  The term “major hurricane” is used by many to indicate those of Category 3 and up. It is used by the U.S. National Hurricane Center, which classifies hurricanes of Category 3 and above as major hurricanes, and is generally used everywhere from the weather agencies to Wikipedia.

Here’s the Saffir-Simpson scale, which includes a nice animation illustrating the typical effects of the different wind speeds. Note the use of “major” for Cat 3 and above.

For a Category 1 hurricane, which Sandy was (off-and-on) until about the time of landfall when it began to dissipate again, the scale notes that “Very dangerous winds will produce some damage.” Electric power is sensitive: “Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.”

Indeed. The power lines and poles are above ground in the US for the most part, and the humorous and inciteful[1] Mark Steyn makes a number of brilliant observations about this.  He’s just published another piece, noting that the 2009 report (in PDF) on New York’s vulnerabilities show that Sandy was not a “freakish” “monster” “Frankenstorm” but simply an anticipated storm that did the damage they knew it would, if steps weren’t taken.  In fact, the storm surge of Sandy was expected to be dwarfed by even a Category 2 hurricane (16 feet) and a Category 4 was expected to deliver a surge to New York City of more than 30 feet (about 10 meters), or more than twice what Sandy produced.

Storm size due to BS Continue reading

hurricane-sandy-iss-flyover

Extreme Weather Reporting

Sandy damaged the Northeast, but was not “unprecedented”

Sandy was a very damaging storm, with widespread winds and rain afflicting a large area seemingly unprepared to deal with it.  It was modest from a historical standpoint: there have been many larger hurricanes that have hit the US east coast and New England specifically, with larger storm surges, greater rain, more damage, many times more lives lost. The 1994 “Great Atlantic Hurricane” was a Category 3 at landfall (Sandy was barely a 1) and its impact was described this way (regarding the Jersey Shore): Continue reading