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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Religious Liberty in the Administrative State

“No person, demeaning himself in a peaceable and orderly manner, shall ever be molested on account of his mode of worship, or religious sentiments, in the said territories.

Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” The Northwest Ordinance, 1787.

The Northwest Ordinance (formally An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio, and also known as the Freedom Ordinance or "The Ordinance of 1787") was an act of the Congress of the Confederation of the United States, passed July 13, 1787. The primary effect of the ordinance was the creation of the Northwest Territory as the first organized territory of the United States out of the region south of the Great Lakes, north and west of the Ohio River, and east of the Mississippi River.

On August 7, 1789, President George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 into law after the newly created U.S. Congress reaffirmed the Ordinance with slight modifications under the Constitution. The Ordinance purported to be not merely legislation that could later be amended by Congress, but rather "the following articles shall be considered as Articles of compact between the original States and the people and states in the said territory, and forever remain unalterable, unless by common consent.

Arguably the single most important piece of legislation passed by members of the earlier Continental Congresses other than the Declaration of Independence, it established the precedent by which the federal government would be sovereign and expand westward across North America with the admission of new states, rather than with the expansion of existing states and their established sovereignty under the Articles of Confederation. It is the most important legislation that Congress has passed with regard to American public domain lands. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized the authority of the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 within the applicable Northwest Territory as constitutional in Strader v. Graham, 51 U.S. 82, 96, 97 (1851), but did not extend the Ordinance to cover the respective states once they were admitted to the Union.

The prohibition of slavery in the territory had the practical effect of establishing the Ohio River as the boundary between free and slave territory in the region between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River. This division helped set the stage for national competition over admitting free and slave states, the basis of a critical question in American politics in the 19th century until the Civil War.

The Natural Rights provisions of the ordinance foreshadowed the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Many of the concepts and guarantees of the Ordinance of 1787 were incorporated in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In the Northwest Territory, various legal and property rights were enshrined, religious tolerance was proclaimed, and it was enunciated that since "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." The right of habeas corpus was written into the charter, as was freedom of religious worship and bans on excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishment. Trial by jury and a ban on ex post facto laws were also rights granted.

The Northwest Ordinance was a clear, unambiguous expression of the beliefs of our Founders. There could be no doubt that this new Congress believed that education and morality should go hand in hand and that as long as the religious practices of one did not violate the social compact or encourage criminal acts such as human sacrifice or refusal to support the common defense of the nation. Religion was not only to be tolerated, it was to be encouraged.

In his 1781 Notes on the State of Virginia, Query XVIII: Manners Thomas Jefferson said:

“With the morals of the people, their industry also is destroyed. For in a warm climate, no man will labour for himself who can make another labour for him. This is so true, that of the proprietors of slaves a very small proportion indeed are ever seen to labour. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference! The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest.--But it is impossible to be temperate and to pursue this subject through the various considerations of policy, of morals, of history natural and civil. We must be contented to hope they will force their way into every one’s mind. I think a change already perceptible, since the origin of the present revolution. The spirit of the master is abating, that of the slave rising from the dust, his condition mollifying, the way I hope preparing, under the auspices of heaven, for a total emancipation, and that this is disposed, in the order of events, to be with the consent of the masters, rather than by their extirpation.”

Here Jefferson is referring the immorality of slavery and the wrath of God that will descend on those who support this policy. Jefferson made no bones in referring to God, as he did in the Declaration four times, and warning that an immoral nation devoid of God would no doubt perish.

In his 1796 Farewell Address to the nation George Washington stated:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism who should labour to subvert these great Pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths, which are the instruments of investigation in Courts of Justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. ’Tis substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule indeed extends with more or less force to every species of free Government. Who that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric.”

Washington, however, offered on caveat to absolute religious freedom in his September, 1789 letter to the Annual Meeting of Quakers when he gently reminded them of their obligation to support the common defense. In his letter Washington stated:

“Government being, among other purposes, instituted to protect the persons and consciences of men from oppression, it certainly is the duty of rulers, not only to abstain from it themselves, but, according to their stations, to prevent it in others.

The liberty enjoyed by the people of these states of worshiping Almighty God agreeably to their consciences, is not only among the choicest of their blessings, but also of their rights. While men perform their social duties faithfully, they do all that society or the state can with propriety demand or expect; and remain responsible only to their Maker for their religion, or modes of faith, which they may prefer or profess.

Your principles and conduct are well known to me; and it is doing the people called Quakers no more than justice to say, that (except their declining to share with others the burden of the common defense) there is no denomination among us, who are more exemplary and useful citizens.

I assure you very explicitly, that in my opinion the conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy and tenderness; and it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be as extensively accommodated to them, as a due regard to the protection and essential interests of the nation may justify and permit.”

Once again we see how our Founders viewed the value of religion in the life of the nation and its schools.

Even the Wilsonian Progressives believed in the value of religion and morality in our national affairs and government policies. They believed in criminal and civil laws that would protect one citizen from the actions of another. This changed with the advent of the Post 1960s Progressives when they embarked on a campaign of anything goes sexual liberation and a complete intolerance for religious institutions.

Post-1960s Progressivism has steadily eroded religious liberty and the freedom of association in America. Measures such as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and many anti-discrimination laws express a new understanding of rights that rejects the Founders’ view of religious liberty and the freedom of private associations to govern themselves. Recent Progressivism follows the early Progressive belief that effective freedom requires government to redistribute resources in order to provide equal access to the goods that promote mental development and that make life comfortable. This redistributive agenda is combined with a new emphasis on the empowerment of victim groups, sexual liberation, and an aversion to traditional Christianity and Judaism that requires government intervention in the internal affairs of private organizations. Religious liberty today is divorced from the freedom of association and the free exercise of religion, which the Founders understood to be essential for a free society.

The Founders’ conception of religious liberty was anchored in the belief that the natural right of liberty—and religious liberty—meant not only that all persons may worship God in the way each thinks best, but also that all are permitted to follow what they believe to be God’s laws in their daily life outside of church. The Founders understood, however, that actions based on religion are limited by the purpose of the social compact—the security of rights. No one has a right to disturb the public peace, to obstruct others in their religious worship, or to incite crimes.

While the Founders believed that religion, especially Christianity, is helpful to the cause of liberty because it encourages the virtues necessary for the survival of a free society, they held that government involvement in religious organizations must be limited by the very purpose of government: to secure the equal natural rights of citizens to life, liberty, and property. Denial of the rights to religious liberty and to freedom of association violates the right to liberty.

In practice, liberty—including religious liberty—means that individuals are free to organize and conduct their affairs as they see fit through self-governing private associations. Contrary to today’s practice, the Founders understood that churches, businesses, and other private associations had the right to determine all internal policies, including rules for membership, employment, and conduct, free from government interference. As long as these entities do not harm the rights to life, liberty, or property, they should be free to manage their internal affairs.

After 1965, Progressives adopted a new attitude towards religion and private associations, viewing both as threats to effective or positive freedom. The redistributive agenda of early Progressivism required the violation of the natural right to property, but in general the early Progressives supported the traditional family and liberal Christianity. Post-1965 Progressivism (in the interest of sexual liberation) explicitly attacks Christianity and rejects the older morality which supported the traditional family.

One of the first steps along this road to the rejection of morality in our public education system was the 1963 Supreme Court case of Abington v. Schempp. This was a case in which the Court decided 8–1 in favor of the respondent, Edward Schempp, and declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional. Associate Justice William Brennan wrote in his concurring opinion:

“[I]t is implicit in the history and character of American public education that the public schools serve a uniquely public function: the training of American citizens in an atmosphere free of parochial, divisive, or separatist influences of any sort. Attendance at the public schools has never been compulsory. [The Constitution reserves] such a choice to the individual parent. The choice which is thus preserved is between a public secular education with its uniquely democratic values, and some form of private or sectarian education, which offers values of its own.”

Not only did this decision fly in the face of the Northwest Ordinance and the intent of the Founders it set the stage for most of the tyrannical laws against religious beliefs we live with today. Used as stare deices for lower courts to follow in subsequent decisions involving the free practice of religion in public schools and the public square such as; banning the singing of Christmas Carols, not allowing Christmas trees on public property, punishing students for wishing a fellow student a “Merry Christmas” or exchanging a Christmas Card. This is tyranny by a minority group that views itself as victims as they feel offended by these practices — practices that do them no harm. This was not the intent of the Founders when speaking of religious tolerance.

Another landmark case along the road to our throwing organized religion’s moral convictions and tenants was the 2003 case of Lawrence v. Texas, decided by a 6-3 vote of the Court.

In this case the Court struck down the sodomy law in Texas and, by extension, invalidated sodomy laws in thirteen other states, making same-sex sexual activity legal in every U.S. state and territory. The Court overturned its previous ruling on the same issue in the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, where it upheld a challenged Georgia statute and did not find a constitutional protection of sexual privacy.

Lawrence explicitly overruled Bowers, holding that it had viewed the liberty interest too narrowly. The Court held that intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. Lawrence invalidated similar laws throughout the United States that criminalized sodomy between consenting adults acting in private, whatever the sex of the participants.

In this case Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority:

“These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State.”

It seems that the Court uses the 14th Amendment time and time again to override the 10th Amendment

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent, which Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas joined. Scalia objected to the Court's decision to revisit Bowers, pointing out many decisions from lower courts that relied on Bowers that might now need to be reconsidered. He noted that the same rationale used to overturn Bowers could have been used to overturn Roe v. Wade, which the Justices in the majority in Lawrence had recently upheld in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Scalia also criticized the majority opinion for failing to give the same respect to stare decisis that three of those in the majority had insisted on in Casey.

Scalia wrote that if the court was not prepared to validate laws based on moral choices as it had done in Bowers, state laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity would not prove sustainable.

He wrote that:

“Today's opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct. The Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.”

He cited the majority opinion's concern that the criminalization of sodomy could be the basis for discrimination against homosexuals as evidence that the majority ignored the views of most Americans:

“So imbued is the Court with the law profession's anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously "mainstream"; that in most States what the Court calls "discrimination" against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal.”

He continued: "Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means." The majority's "invention of a brand-new 'constitutional right'", he wrote, showed it was "impatient of democratic change."

The case attracted much public attention, and a large number of amici curiae ("friends of the court") briefs were filed. Its outcome was celebrated by gay rights advocates, who hoped that further legal advances might result as a consequence. And it did!

Now we have another special victim group demanding a redistribution of resources and special protection under the color of law. If a religious institution or secular organizations like the Boy Scouts they are taken to court by the Gay Rights activists demanding their rights to be a part of the organization even if they are not welcomed. If a business like the photographer in New Mexico refuses to photograph a same sex wedding the photographer is fined $6,637.97. What if a Gay photographer would only photograph same sex commitment ceremonies? Would they suffer the same government sanctions. I doubt it. In this case Gay Rights trump religious rights.

To implement the new view of freedom from Christianity and moral self-restraint, government involves itself ever more pervasively in the internal affairs of churches and businesses. Since these private associations all have employees, they are thus subject to anti-discrimination provisions that actively promote affirmative action policies geared toward sexual liberation and the redistribution of resources to supposed victim groups. Private associations are not allowed to govern themselves, and businesses are often prohibited from treating religion as a positive good. Religious liberty is increasingly confined to the freedom to worship. The natural right to liberty and the specific application of that right as religious liberty and the freedom of association are denied by the contemporary Progressive view of religious liberty.

The Great American Flashlight

So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear. That there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system. — Milton Friedman

If you watch any CSI or other police show you will see the detectives and criminalists perusing the crime scene with those little flashlights. They use them to look about the crime scene whether day or night. Those little flashlights are called Maglites and come in many sizes including the favorite of police offices, the 5D battery size than can double as an effective truncheon and illuminate a scene up to 100 feet away. Maglites are the largest selling flashlights in the world with annual sales surpassing $150 million dollars a year.

Many police officers carry Maglites, as they are durable, focusable, and generally produce better output than inexpensive mass market flashlights.

Maglite flashlights have been known to be used as mêlée weapons. Security and police personnel often carry Maglite flashlights as they can be employed as a defensive weapon, especially at night or in dark locations. Police officers will often use Maglites during traffic stops or suspect confrontation, as the beam can disorient an attacker and the flashlight can be swung as a baton as a measure of last resort in self-defense.

Maglites are manufactured by Mag Instrument, Inc. at its plant located inMagLiteFlashlight Ontario. Mag Instrument employs 900 people and in 2004 reported sales of $150 million dollars. In 2006 the company began construction of a new $80 million, 700,000-square-foot facility. It was expected to house a total of 2,400 employees after its scheduled opening in 2006. The company's long-term goal was to increase exports to at least half of total sales.

So how did this little flashlight make such a hit and why is its company founder, Tony Maglica, a perfect example of the “American Dream.”

Maglite was introduced in 1979. Constructed principally of anodized 6061 aluminum, they have a variable-focus beam. Maglites are produced in several colors such as black, silver, blue, and red and different finishes. Originally Maglite flashlights used krypton or xenon incandescent bulbs. Current models have LEDs.

Accessories include belt holsters, mounting brackets, colored and glass lenses, attachable fiber optics extensions, higher-powered incandescent bulbs, and LED conversion modules. The Maglite was an improvement over the Kel-Lite, after which the Maglite was patterned.

Company founder Anthony Maglica was born in New York City in 1930, at the beginning of the Great Depression. He moved with his mother to her homeland of Croatia at age two. He was eventually trained as a machinist in Europe.

According to Maglica the WWII occupation of Croatia and the severe policies carried out by the Nazi puppet government of Ante Pavelić and ultranationalist Ustaše thugs were very hard on his mother and him. As poor farmers there were many times they nothing to eat and at one point his mother took a rock and knocked out her gold tooth to use to purchase food. He saw people rounded up and summarily executed or relocated to concentration camps where the eventually died from disease, starvation or brutality.

After the fall of the Nazi puppet government Croatia fell under the sphere of the Soviet Union and the equally brutal policies of Stalin. By the age of twenty Tony was very familiar with the tyranny of Socialism, Fascism and Communism. He wanted nothing to do with any of them and looked toward the West and the United States where he could live free and pursue his own course.

In 1950, Maglica returned to the United States with little knowledge of English but ample faith in the free enterprise system. According to the Business Press of California, he was unable to find anything but sewing work in New York City, so he moved west. He operated a lathe for Long Beach-based Pacific Valve Co. and then A.O. Smith Water Products Co., an East Los Angeles manufacturer of water heaters.

In 1955 he set up a small job shop in his garage in Los Angeles as a side venture. His start-up capital was the $125 he had saved, just enough for a down payment on a $1,000 lathe.

The business was incorporated on September 25, 1974, as Mag Instrument, Inc. By this time, Maglica was producing artillery shells. He also was making components for a flashlight manufacturer. Dismayed by the poor quality of their product, in 1976 he decided to build a better flashlight. At the time, most were cheap and virtually disposable. They had lousy reflectors and weak incandescent bulbs that drained batteries very quickly.

After three years, Maglica came up with a design that was tough and durable, with anodized aluminum housing rather than plastic. Called the Maglite, it was initially marketed toward law enforcement and rescue personnel. The flashlight also was designed to be attractive to civilians. Sportsmen were another early target market.

The Maglite, introduced in 1979, was a critical and commercial success. It won numerous accolades from product design circles as it made its way into home improvement chains and department stores. The Maglite Rechargeable Flashlight System (Mag Charger) was introduced in 1982.

That year, Maglica relocated the firm, which then had 80 employees, to a new 126,000-square-foot factory in Ontario, California, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Using his tooling experience, Maglica designed the machinery for the plant himself.

According to California's Business Press, a 1984 lawsuit against U.S. retailers who had imported cheap knock-offs of the Maglite flashlights was a turning point for the company in more ways than one. While Mag won the suit, instead of pursuing a cash award, Maglica had the retailers buy five Mag flashlights for every imported copy they had sold. This was an effective way to gain a great deal of shelf space, as the merchants included Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Kmart Corporation.

The original Maglite ran on D cells. In 1984 the company unveiled a smaller flashlight called the Mini Maglite, which ran on AA batteries. A still smaller AAA version came out three years later. The key ring-sized Solitaire flashlight was introduced in 1988. In the mid-1980s, Maglica also developed underwater lighting for eminent Sea Explorer Jacques Cousteau.

In 1987 the company won $3.1 million in a copyright infringement suit against Streamlight, Inc. Another judgment soon followed against Kassnar Imports, Inc. ($2.75 million, 1989) and The Brinkmann Corporation ($1.2 million, 1990). More imitations by potential competitors — some 50 different companies around the world — would follow. Mag spent $17 million from 1986 to 1989 to fight cheap knock-offs. This was more than three times the company's advertising budget, noted the Wall Street Journal.

It was often difficult to collect on such judgments, as manufacturers who lost suits were prone to declaring bankruptcy. Nevertheless, Mag spent millions to aggressively defend its trademarks for the design and manufacturing process of its flashlights. According to Management Review, the United States lagged behind other countries in protecting design features. In 1997, however, the "shape, style and overall appearance" of its Mini Maglite flashlights received copyright protection, followed by the other designs in 2003.

Inc. Magazine reported revenues were in the range of $70 million in 1989. ADWEEK mentioned reports the company held a 25 percent share of a U.S. flashlight market worth $400 million. Mag ended the decade with about 500 employees. Maglica was committed to keeping manufacturing operations in the United States. Extensive use of automation on the factory floor helped keep costs down.

A loyal Republican, Maglica donated 40,000 Mini Maglite flashlights for President George H.W. Bush's 1989 inauguration celebration. They reinforced the "thousand points of light" theme. He also supplied them for the younger Bush's inauguration in 2001. Audience members lit the lights as part of a grand finale.

Although an impassioned advocate for U.S. manufacturing, Maglica remained sensitive to the situation in the former Yugoslavia where he was raised. In 1994, Mag donated 40,000 flashlights inscribed with "Remember Sarajevo" for the closing ceremonies at the Lillehammer Winter Olympics. In 1997, Maglica established the nonprofit Maglite Foundation in Croatia. Its mission was the environmental cleanup of the region, particularly on the island of Zlarin, where Maglica grew up.

Mag entered the European market in 1995. The flashlights fared well even in Germany, known for its "over-engineered" products. They also were accepted in quality-conscious Japan. Total sales were reported at about $240 million per year.

The company was soon looking to expand its manufacturing space. It sought to take over the coating process done to the aluminum flashlights by a Kalamazoo, Michigan company.

99 percent of the Maglite Flashlight is made in the USA. The item not produced here is the bulb. There were no manufactures that produced the halogen bulb used by the original Maglite so Maglica found a company in Germany that was in financial trouble that had the machinery and expertise to make the bulbs he wanted. Maglica decided to buy the machinery and patents and ship the machinery to the United States so he could make the bulbs here. He wanted to make 100% of the flashlights in America.

This is where the U.S. Government stepped in a denied Tony a permit for relocating the bulb making equipment here. This was due to the U.S. Government’s EPA policy on banning the production if incandescent bulbs in the U.S. So Tony had to continue making the bulbs in Germany or switch to the more expensive and less powerful LED lights that are not being made here.

Under U.S. law you do not have to make 100% of a product here to claim it is made in America. The Maglite at 90% qualified for a Made in America sticker, but not in California where it has to be 100%. So Tony was between a rock and a hard place. He could not bring the bulb making equipment here so he could make all of the flashlights in the United States, but qualified to make that claim, except in California.

One day a slip and fall attorney was walking through Home Depot in California when he noticed a display of Maglites with the made in America sticker. He immediately filed a suit against Home Depot and Tony’s company in a California court. Home Depot was forced to remove all of the Maglites with the made in America sticker from their shelves and Tony had to recall all of flashlights in California.

In the first years of the new millennium, Mag Instrument employed 850 people and had 450,000 square feet of manufacturing space scattered across 11 buildings. In November 1999, Mag began leasing another, 300,000-square-foot facility as a stopgap measure to meet increasing demand.

The flashlights were sold in more than 85 countries; exports accounted for 25 percent of total sales, which were reported at between $100 million and $250 million in various sources. The company was valued at $775 million, Maglica's attorney told Ontario's Business Press in 2000 after settling a palimony suit brought by Maglica's longtime companion, Claire Halasz that was settled in an Orange County Court. The Business Press added that the company had produced 39 million flashlights the year before.

In 2003, Mag won a rare monetary award ($113,000) against a Japanese manufacturer, Asahi Electric Corp., which was found to have infringed upon Mag's patent. The 17-year patent on Mag's flashlight, however, was due to expire in March 2005. U.S. Representative Joe Baca was sponsoring a bill to extend the patent for two more years. According to the Business Press of California, part of Mag's appeal was an eight-year gap after the request of a renewal in 1995 in which Mag had no patent protection.

So here we have a virtual immigrant (although born in the United States) who suffered under the brutal, tyrannical regimes of Fascism and Communism and came to the United States in 1950 with no money. He worked hard, invested the little money he had for his dream of building not a better mousetrap, but a superior flashlight. The government gave him nothing, in fact they blocked his attempts to build 100% of the Maglite here and employ more people. When I heard Tony interviewed he claimed he looked on the United States as the freest nation in the world where you could pursue one’s dream. He also stated he never took a dime from the government and built his business through hard work, savings, increasing productivity, hiring good people and making a superior product. This was the American way. For a timeline of the milestone events in the history of the Mag Company click here.

William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962) was an American religious leader and influential public speaker.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, he was ordained a Presbyterian minister soon after his arrival in the United States as a young adult. The Rev. Boetcker was ordained in Brooklyn, New York.

He quickly gained attention as an eloquent motivational speaker, and is often regarded today as the forerunner of such contemporary "success coaches" as Anthony Robbins.

An outspoken political conservative, Rev. Boetcker is perhaps best remembered for his authorship of a pamphlet entitled The Ten Cannots that emphasizes freedom and responsibility of the individual on himself. Originally published in 1916, it is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln. The error apparently stems from a leaflet printed in 1942 by a conservative political organization called the Committee for Constitutional Government. The leaflet bore the title "Lincoln on Limitations" and contained some genuine Lincoln quotations on one side and the "Ten Cannots" on the other, with the attributions switched. The genuine Lincoln quotations may have been from an address on March 21, 1864 in which Lincoln said "Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let him labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built." The mistake of crediting Lincoln for "The Ten Cannots" has been repeated many times since, notably by Ronald Reagan in his address to the 1992 Republican National Convention in Houston.

There are several minor variants of the pamphlet in circulation, but the most commonly accepted version appears below:

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
  10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

Tony Maglica has built his flashlight business on here principles and continues to over a superior product and customer service.

As an aside, tonight is Halloween, my least favorite holiday. It is a night when little gremlins, many in tow by their parents or older siblings go door to door begging for treats (mainly sugar-filled candy) that they feel they are entitled to. If you do not comply with their requests for hand-outs you run the risk of being labeled as Scrooge or suffering vandalism to your property by the older beggars. These little tykes come dressed in some sort of popular costume holding open bags or pillow cases waiting for you to fill them with candy. Some, like Michelle Obama, may claim that you use healthy treats like nuts and fruit. Just try that and see the scornful looks you will get. Instead you have to go to the supermarket or big box store and stock up on those mini candy bars such as Snickers, Baby Ruth, Mounds Bars and other confectionary offerings. In essence you are spreading the wealth by spending your money to subsidize the sweet tooth of the neighbor kids. In some cases, like where I live, kids from other less affluent neighborhoods are bused in to roam the streets in search of their entitled candy. This bodes ill for when they grow up and continue the search for their entitled goods. It’s pure plunder.

Am I a scrooge? No. I am just tired of every year on this date sitting at a table with the garage door open doling candy. I use the garage as my staging area as I get annoyed at the door bell ringing every two minutes and my dogs barking.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Real October Surprise

“When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint. It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. they neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America Volume 2.

Every presidential election cycle, Americans of all walks and political affiliations eagerly anticipate an “October surprise” — that one bombshell revelation made public roughly two weeks before voters head to the polling stations to cast their ballots — that will effectively tar and feather one candidate so thoroughly his or her chances at claiming the presidency become null and void.

All of the pundits have been touting the possibility of the proverbial “October surprise” as they wait for some shocking revelation about Mitt Romney. Right now the infamous Los Angeles slip and fall attorney Gloria Allred may be attempting to debut an “October surprise.” Specifically, that “surprise” would be based on decades-old testimony by Romney in the divorce proceedings of Tom Stemberg, the founder of Staples, and might allege that Romney — then one of Staples’ main investors — purposefully misrepresented the value of Staples stock in order to cheat Stemberg’s ex-wife, Maureen.

It is too soon to tell whether the prospective accusation will be made, or indeed if Allred will go any further with this story, but a judge in Massachusetts granted Allred at least half of what she wanted in crafting this “October surprise.” Specifically, Romney’s testimony in the case has been released to the public, and can be reported about in the press.

However, Allred has also suffered a setback. The Daily Mail reports:

“Allred, a staunch Obama supporter who promised an ‘October surprise’ for Romney, arrived at the court in Canton, Massachusetts on Thursday morning with Maureen Sullivan Stemberg, 61.

She demanded a gagging order against her client be lifted so she could speak about Romney’s conduct through her divorce proceedings, which dragged on between 1987 and 2002.

“She is apparently the only person in the United States of America – perhaps the world – who cannot speak about Governor Romney,” Allred said. “She needs to be able to speak.”

She argued that Maureen Stemberg is “denied her first amendment right” by the court inarticle-2223026-15AF581E000005DC-504_634x499 the “most comprehensive gag order I have ever seen in my 36 years of law.”

Allred, a Democrat Party operative has done this in the past when she damaged Republican candidate Herman Cain with her baseless accusations and in the 2012 California gubernatorial election with allegations against the Republican candidate Meg Whitman over hiring an illegal immigrant as a housekeeper.

While the ambulance chasing Allred is fritting around a Massachusetts courtroom with a scorned woman the real “October surprise” is unfolding right in front of our eyes.

It is Libya.

The attack on our diplomatic outpost in Benghazi that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens, two Navy SEALs and an additional civil servant dead has soured quickly from foreign policy debacle to an all-out scandal from which the president may not recover — nor should he. When viewed in its proper context, Allred’s October surprise, which rings more like something found in an episode of the Real House Wives of New Jersey, is an insult to the fallen Americans in Benghazi and their families.

The facts as they now stand reveal that not only did Obama know from day one that the Benghazi breach was an act of terror waged by pro-al Qaeda militants, but that he likely watched the carnage unfold via cameras fed live into the Situation Room from a predator drone hovering above the consulate during at least a portion of the attack, which was roughly seven-hours long.

Fox News has learned from sources who were on the ground in Benghazi that an urgent request from the CIA annex for military back-up during the attack on the U.S. consulate and subsequent attack several hours later on the annex itself was denied by the CIA chain of command — who also told the CIA operators twice to "stand down" rather than help the ambassador's team when shots were heard at approximately 9:40 p.m. in Benghazi on Sept. 11. The latest report from Fox states:

“Former Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods was part of a small team who was at the CIA annex about a mile from the U.S. consulate where Ambassador Chris Stevens and his team came under attack. When he and others heard the shots fired, they informed their higher-ups at the annex to tell them what they were hearing and requested permission to go to the consulate and help out. They were told to "stand down," according to sources familiar with the exchange. Soon after, they were again told to "stand down."

Woods and at least two others ignored those orders and made their way to the consulate which at that point was on fire. Shots were exchanged. The rescue team from the CIA annex evacuated those who remained at the consulate and Sean Smith, who had been killed in the initial attack. They could not find the ambassador and returned to the CIA annex at about midnight.

At that point, they called again for military support and help because they were taking fire at the CIA safe house, or annex. The request was denied. There were no communications problems at the annex, according those present at the compound. The team was in constant radio contact with their headquarters. In fact, at least one member of the team was on the roof of the annex manning a heavy machine gun when mortars were fired at the CIA compound. The security officer had a laser on the target that was firing and repeatedly requested back-up support from a Spectre gunship, which is commonly used by U.S. Special Operations forces to provide support to Special Operations teams on the ground involved in intense firefights. The fighting at the CIA annex went on for more than four hours — enough time for any planes based in Signorelli Air base, just 480 miles away, to arrive. Fox News has also learned that two separate Tier One Special operations forces were told to wait, among them Delta Force operators.

A Special Operations team, or CIF which stands for Commanders in Extremis Force, operating in Central Europe had been moved to Sigonella, Italy, but they were never told to deploy. In fact, a Pentagon official says there were never any requests to deploy assets from outside the country. A second force that specializes in counterterrorism rescues was on hand at Sigonella, according to senior military and intelligence sources. According to those sources, they could have flown to Benghazi in less than two hours. They were the same distance to Benghazi as those that were sent from Tripoli. Spectre gunships are commonly used by the Special Operations community to provide close air support.

According to sources on the ground during the attack, the special operator on the roof of the CIA annex had visual contact and a laser pointing at the Libyan mortar team that was targeting the CIA annex. The operators were calling in coordinates of where the Libyan forces were firing from.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon on Thursday that there was not a clear enough picture of what was occurring on the ground in Benghazi to send help.

"There's a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking going on here," Panetta said Thursday. "But the basic principle here ... is that you don't deploy forces into harm's way without knowing what's going on."

U.S. officials argue that there was a period of several hours when the fighting stopped before the mortars were fired at the annex, leading officials to believe the attack was over.

Fox News has learned that there were two military surveillance drones redirected to Benghazi shortly after the attack on the consulate began. They were already in the vicinity. The second surveillance craft was sent to relieve the first drone, perhaps due to fuel issues. Both were capable of sending real time visuals back to U.S. officials in Washington, D.C. Any U.S. official or agency with the proper clearance, including the White House Situation Room, State Department, CIA, Pentagon and others, could call up that video in real time on their computers.

Tyrone Woods was later joined at the scene by fellow former Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, who was sent in from Tripoli as part of a Global Response Staff or GRS that provides security to CIA case officers and provides counter surveillance and surveillance protection. They were killed by a mortar shell at 4 a.m. Libyan time, nearly seven hours after the attack on the consulate began -- a window that represented more than enough time for the U.S. military to send back-up from nearby bases in Europe, according to sources familiar with Special Operations. Four mortars were fired at the annex. The first one struck outside the annex. Three more hit the annex.

A motorcade of dozens of Libyan vehicles, some mounted with 50 caliber machine guns, belonging to the February 17th Brigades, a Libyan militia which is friendly to the U.S., finally showed up at the CIA annex at approximately 3 a.m. An American Quick Reaction Force sent from Tripoli had arrived at the Benghazi airport at 2 a.m. (four hours after the initial attack on the consulate) and was delayed for 45 minutes at the airport because they could not at first get transportation, allegedly due to confusion among Libyan militias who were supposed to escort them to the annex, according to Benghazi sources.

The American special operators, Woods, Doherty and at least two others were part of the Global Response Staff, a CIA element, based at the CIA annex and were protecting CIA operators who were part of a mission to track and repurchase arms in Benghazi that had proliferated in the wake of Muammar Qaddafi's fall. Part of their mission was to find the more than 20,000 missing MANPADS, or shoulder-held missiles capable of bringing down a commercial aircraft. According to a source on the ground at the time of the attack, the team inside the CIA annex had captured three Libyan attackers and was forced to hand them over to the Libyans. U.S. officials do not know what happened to those three attackers and whether they were released by the Libyan forces. “

The violent attack on the American Ambassador and other American personnel in Benghazi, Libya, by radical Islamists brought American foreign policy jarringly back to the forefront of our consciousness. Regrettably, this tragedy serves as a grim reminder of the kind of enemy we still face in radical Islam.

As you will recall when Osama bin Laden was justly killed by brave American soldiers, the Obama Administration immediately leaked all kinds of details about the operation and the role of senior officials, including the president in particular.

Now nearly seven weeks after the violent attack on our consulate in Libya, we have learned the Obama Administration knew about the nature of the attack within hours of it occurring. The lack of adequate security (particularly in the light of the 11th Anniversary of September 11 and the attack and desecration of our Embassy in Cairo that same day) was a mistake which needs to be thoroughly investigated.

This week we learned through news reports that emails reveal the White House was advised a mere two hours after the attacks in Libya that a terrorist organization, Ansar al-Sharia, had claimed responsibility. It was terrorism, of course, but President Obama did not want to acknowledge that.

The idea that the president and senior officials knew the nature of the attack, and yet repeatedly laid the blame at the feet of an online video clip rather than radical Islamic attackers is dishonest and an increasingly apparent offensive cover-up.

If this was intended in any way to distract the American people from a major real-time failure of leadership — as it increasingly appears — the president and senior officials should be held responsible. All relevant information should be released within the next week and prior to the election to clear the full record.

The failure to immediately unleash all American assets in the region, including fighter aircraft to deter the attackers and aid those under attack and in harm’s way for an extended period of time, would clearly be incompetence; a tragic example of leading from behind with deadly consequences.

President Barack Obama reportedly refused to provide a direct answer to repeated questions on whether requests for help in Benghazi were denied as the attack was underway during an interview with 9News in Denver on Friday.

Kyle Clark, a reporter with 9News, asked the president about the requests for help and whether or not it was fair to make Americans wait for answers on Benghazi until after the election.

“The election has nothing to do with four brave Americans getting killed and us wanting to find out exactly what happened,” Obama said. “Nobody wants to find out more what happened than I do.”

The president went on to say he wants to “gather all the facts” and find out “exactly what happened” and bring justice to the terrorists who attacked the U.S. mission in Libya.

“President Obama was directly asked twice whether pleas for help on the ground in Libya were denied during the attack. Both times, he repeated his standard call for a thorough investigation,”9News reports.

Here is Obama’s full response to the question:

“Well, we are finding out exactly what happened. I can tell you, as I’ve said over the last couple of months since this happened, the minute I found out what was happening, I gave three very clear directives. Number one, make sure that we are securing our personnel and doing whatever we need to. Number two, we’re going to investigate exactly what happened so that it doesn’t happen again. Number three, find out who did this so we can bring them to justice. And I guarantee you that everyone in the state department, our military, the CIA, you name it, had number one priority making sure that people were safe. These were our folks and we’re going to find out exactly what happened, but what we’re also going to do it make sure that we are identifying those who carried out these terrible attacks.”

Then we have the brilliant Geraldo Rivera of Al Capone’s safe fame going ballistic on Fox and Friends this morning over the presence of unmanned drones over the Benghazi attack send back real-time images of the firefight to the Pentagon and White House.

The situation quickly got heated on the set of “Fox & Friends” this morning when Geraldo Rivera clashed with the show’s hosts over details surrounding the Benghazi terror attack. At the center of the debate was Rivera’s contention that the government was not watching the attack on the U.S. consulate in real time.

Rivera argued that drones didn’t arrive at the scene until two and a half hours after the attack commenced, and suggested that the attack couldn’t have been viewed in real-time. (The attack, though, was seven hours long, potentially giving plenty of time for the drones to catch the attack).

“This is preposterous — this notion that the Pentagon was monitoring this in real time,” Rivera said, with “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy countering that the State Department was, indeed, monitoring as the situation unfolded.

“People, stop. Stop this right now with this whole notion of live TV, and why didn’t we respond. It is not what happened,” Rivera continued.

Rivera went on to say that the tragic situation is being needlessly politicized, calling for an end to the issue’s alleged exploitation.

“I think we have to stop this politicizing,” he said. “We’re getting away from the real issue. Why wasn’t there security before this happened?”

While Rivera dismissed the notion that the battle was being viewed live by officials as it progressed, an October 20 report from CBS News claims that a portion of it was, indeed, seen by officials. In fact, according to the network, “hours after the attack began, an unmanned Predator drone was sent over the U.S. mission in Benghazi, and that the drone and other reconnaissance aircraft apparently observed the final hours of the protracted battle.”

Rivera’s contention that the attack wasn’t viewed live, at least when juxtaposed against CBS’s claims, is questionable. That said, both Rivera and CBS seem to corroborate the notion that drones didn’t arrive until hours after the militant attack began. Another report from the outlet published on Thursday provided additional details on the drone operations over Benghazi on September 11:

“Two and a half hours after the attack began, an unarmed predator drone was diverted from a surveillance mission over another part of Libya to the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

That, plus a second unarmed drone dispatched four hours and 15 minutes later, were the only U.S. military forces sent to the scene of the attack. Commandos were dispatched from Europe to an air field in Sigonella, Sicily, but by the time they got there the attack in Benghazi was over.”

While some, like Rivera, view the continued focus on drones and other related issues as merely political, others — particularly Republican lawmakers — believe it is essential that all of the details surrounding the attack are explored.

In terms of the military response, there are many questions still worth asking. In the October 20 report, CBS continued, providing more on the military response:

“The State Department, White House and Pentagon declined to say what military options were available. A White House official told CBS News that, at the start of the attack, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta “looked at available options, and the ones we exercised had our military forces arrive in less than 24 hours, well ahead of timelines laid out in established policies.”

But it was too late to help the Americans in Benghazi. The ambassador and three others were dead.

A White House official told CBS News that a “small group of reinforcements” was sent from Tripoli to Benghazi, but declined to say how many or what time they arrived.”

As for Rivera’s view, not everyone agrees. Retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen said that he believes help could have arrived sooner — and he also accused the government of needlessly standing by and watching the atrocities unfold.

“You find a way to make this happen. There isn’t a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments,” he said. “They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, though, has defended the military and claimed that taking direct ground action would have been too confusing at the time. Because of the convoluted nature of the situation on the ground, he said that deploying troops there without having real-time information would have been too hazardous.

This is heartbreaking and enraging. Timely assistance could have been brought to bear. Lives could have been saved. But for some inexplicable reason, CIA chieftains repeatedly opted to hang our own people out to dry — including a sitting ambassador. We now know that the State Department and the White House were aware of the fire-fight within minutes of the first shots being fired. They also knew it was a terrorist attack within two hours; after which five more hours of fighting took place. US officials watched the disaster unfold in real time, thanks to an unarmed drone overhead, and the Americans on the ground were in constant radio contact with headquarters. Why the hell were reinforcements actively withheld over and over again? Why? CBS News reports that former intelligence operatives believe even a small US intervention could have saved lives:

Retired CIA officer Gary Berntsen believes help could have come much sooner. He commanded CIA counter-terrorism missions targeting Osama bin Laden and led the team that responded after bombings of the U.S. Embassy in East Africa. "You find a way to make this happen," Berntsen says. "There isn't a plan for every single engagement. Sometimes you have to be able to make adjustments. They made zero adjustments in this. They stood and they watched and our people died." The Pentagon says it did move a team of special operators from central Europe to the large Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, but gave no other details. Sigonella is just an hour's flight from Libya. Other nearby bases include Aviano and Souda Bay. Military sources tell CBS News that resources at the three bases include fighter jets and Specter AC-130 gunships, which the sources say can be extremely effective in flying in and buzzing a crowd to disperse it. Rick Nelson, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former Navy pilot who worked in counter-terrorism, says such missions can be very risky. "A lot can go well, right, as we saw with the bin Laden raid. It was a very successful event," he says. "But also, when there are high risk activities like this. a lot can go wrong, as we saw with the Iranian hostage rescue decades ago." Add to the controversy the fact that the last two Americans didn't die until more than six hours into the attack, and the question of U.S. military help becomes very important.

This was not a "fog of war" mishap. Our government had eyes and ears on the situation as it was playing out, minute after excruciating minute. They chose to deny help, just as they did leading up to the massacre. Recall that Ambassador Stevens and other American personnel had essentially begged for more security, as Islamist attacks against Western targets (including a previous bombing attempt on the US outpost Benghazi itself) had intensified in recent months. These requests were not only shot down, some of the few competent American security forces on the ground were withdrawn from Libya. Having been abandoned by their government once, our diplomats were again left to twist in the wind, even as their lives were in imminent danger throughout the horrifying 9/11 ambush. After the dust settled and we counted our dead, the US government muddied the water about what happened, obsessing over an irrelevant and obscure YouTube video. Ambassador Stevens and the others were betrayed by their superiors before, during, and after the attack that robbed them of their lives. This is appalling. Will anyone ever he held responsible? As in, actually responsible — not politicians saying they're responsible, only to make more excuses and pass the buck, with no real consequences.

"My number one priority is to keep our diplomats safe." That's from the president, who slept through the attack as others in his White House watched it live. When he woke up, he made a brief statement, skipped his security briefing, and flew to Las Vegas for a re-election rally.

Coupled with the televised despair of Sean Smith's mother, Mr. Woods' comments this afternoon are just devastating. Tragic, infuriating, devastating.

The father of one of the former Navy SEALs killed in the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya says President Barack Obama wouldn’t even look him in the eye and Vice President Joe Biden was disrespectful during the ceremony when his son’s body returned to America. He also says the White House’s story on the attack doesn’t pass the smell test.

Charles Woods, father of Tyrone Woods, called into “The Glenn Beck Program” on TheBlazeTV Thursday and recounted his interactions with the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Biden at the ceremony for the Libya victims at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He told host Glenn Beck that what they told him, coupled with new reports that indicate the Obama administration knew very good and well, almost immediately, that a terrorist attack was occurring in Benghazi, make him certain that the American people are not getting the whole truth.

Mr. Woods criticized the White House reaction to his son's death — especially a bizarre and obscene comment Joe Biden made to him. Mr. Woods said he thought Barack Obama had 'no remorse' over the attack and felt Hillary Clinton was “not telling the truth”. And he revealed that at the ceremony for the return of Tyrone's body, the Vice President approached his family and asked, “Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?” Mr. Woods added that the President seemed cold and distant at the time, saying: “Shaking hands with him, quite frankly, was like shaking hands with a dead fish.” Mr. Woods told Glenn Beck that he was disappointed by his meeting with senior officials at the event marking the return of the dead men's bodies. He said that Joe Biden had acted inappropriately, asking the Woods family in a loud and boisterous' tone, 'Did your son always have balls the size of cue balls?' Mr. Woods asked, “Are these the words of someone who is sorry?”

Three days after the bloody 9/11 siege on our consulate in Benghazi, the Taliban waged an intricately coordinated, brutal attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. The murderous jihadists released video exactly one month ago this week showing off their training exercises in preparation for the assault. Where are the questions? (See my blog dated September 27, 2012)

Where's the accountability? Where's the Obama administration? Where's the press? Where's the outrage?

Two heroic U.S. Marines were killed in the battle. Their names -- Lt. Col. Christopher Raible and Sgt. Bradley Atwell -- have not been uttered publicly by the commander in chief. Their arrival back in the U.S., in flag-draped coffins, was not broadcast on network TV. But their brothers-in-arms did not and will not forget. And neither must we.

On September 20, John Gresham of the Defense Media Network wrote a scathing detailed breakdown of this little-noticed terrorist attack on our troops. He called it "arguably the worst day in USMC aviation history since the Tet Offensive of 1968." Eight irreplaceable aircraft were destroyed or put out of action by Taliban warriors dressed in U.S. combat fatigues -- amounting to "approximately 7 percent of the total flying USMC Harrier fleet," Gresham reported.

His summary is bone chilling: "A Harrier squadron commander is dead, along with another Marine. Another nine personnel have been wounded, and the nearby Marines at Camp Freedom are now without effective fixed-wing air support. The USMC's response to this disaster will be a telling report card on its leadership and organizational agility."

On September 21, the left-leaning magazine The Atlantic published an article on the Camp Bastion attack titled "The U.S. Suffered Its Worst Airpower Loss Since Vietnam Last Week and No One Really Noticed." A few right-leaning blogs raised troubling questions about preparedness and security.

It has been asked if it would not have been better for the president to simply have come out immediately following the terror attack this past September 11 and admit to al Qaeda’s involvement. The issue for Obama, however, would be that by doing so, he would also have to admit that his policy of pandering to America’s enemies has been the failure common sense always indicated it would be. Taking ownership of Benghazi would mean that Obama could no longer continue to sell the bill of goods that he cut off the head of the al Qaeda snake when he “single-handedly” smote bin Laden as he skulked in an Abbottabad compound. Nor would the president be able to peddle the lie that the war on terror is over.

Liberals now who dane mention Allred’s juicy October surprise would be well advised to fear the Pandora’s Box they are opening. Benghazi is Obama’s Iran-Contra, Watergate, Whitewater, and Fast and Furious all rolled into one. And while a contingent of the U.S. may still have an appetite for reality television, there is no place for it in a U.S. presidential race, especially one that comes on the heels of American-lives lost, and lost so senselessly.

The growth of the imperial presidency, as it was described by historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. in 1973, has for decades distorted the constitutional contract between the presidency and the citizens of the republic. That distortion reached its peak with the fanfare that accompanied Barack Obama's ascension to power in 2008. Not only has Obama assumed powers never intended for the executive branch, but his messianic posturing raised expectations that could never be fulfilled.

Liberals in particular have not been this silly in love since the heady days of Camelot, as they labeled the magical aura that surrounded the Kennedy administration. Like all such childlike fantasies, however, the hope that Obama could do larger-than-life things had to be dashed upon the hard rock of reality. Now not only do his followers face the difficulty of admitting that he has failed to bring about the promised new age of prosperity at home and security abroad, but they have been disappointed in love to boot.

We can only hope that Obama's spectacular failures will finally dispel some of the more grandiose myths and dangerous expectations about the American presidency. Though voters may be solemnly warned that we are deciding in November who will "lead the nation" through the turbulent days ahead, or even that we are electing "the leader of the free world," in reality, we are doing nothing of the sort.

Americans are about evenly divided between those who want to live their own lives with minimal interference from government and those who expect government to meet every need, from wiping their tears to providing free contraceptives. The first group is not looking for someone to lead it, and the blubbers-to-rubbers group will only follow someone who promises to keep the free cell phones coming. Regardless of the outcome in November, we-the-people are too divided to be "led" by the winner. So forget about healing our divisions; just bring sanity to our fiscal mess and Islamic friendly foreign police and call it a job well done.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Post Progressive Era And Barack Obama

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” — Alexis de Tocqueville.

I have written about the beginnings of the progressive era going back to Theodore Roosevelt though Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson — a period of some 65 years dating from the turn of the twentieth century. These presidents were influenced by men like John Dewey, Herbert Croly, and Frank Goodnow who were influential in their writings and teaching. They could be considered the leaders of the progressive movement. For simplicity I will refer to these progressives as “Wilsonian Progressives” even though he was only a mere stepping stone in the progressive movement.

In 1915 Herbert Croly wrote in his essay Progressive Democracy:

“Democracy implies and needs some method of representation which will be efficient and responsible enough to carry out a social policy, but which does not imply the delegation of its own ultimate discretionary power to any body of men or body of law. The new system can accomplish nothing without human energy, intelligence, sacrifice and faith, but if those qualities are present, it will make the best use of them.”

These Wilsonian Progressives, while advocating a drift from the philosophy of our Founders and the Constitution, still believed in strict criminal laws, the sanctity of human life, family, patriotism, science, and good character. They believed in American exceptionalism and that the United States stood above other nations in world rank. They did not sanction criminal behavior, laziness, abortion, welfare without work, homosexuality, and biocentric environmental protection for the benefit of sub-human species. What they wanted was an administrative state managed by scientific experts and masterminds who had the proper academic credentials and more power vested in the executive branch.

Post-1960s Progressivism is an incoherent blend of the earlier Progressive emphasis on material and spiritual uplift coupled with a new, adamantly relativistic orientation. This altered Progressivism champions an understanding of freedom as “the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the meaning of human life.” Policies that attack the traditional family through the promotion of sexual liberation, the redefinition of racial equality in terms of atonement for alleged historical victimization, and a preference for the preservation of the environment over human flourishing—demonstrate that post-1960s Progressivism not only rejects the ethical ideal of earlier Progressivism; it also denies the Founders’ conception of equality and rights as grounded in “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

Post-1960s Progressivism represents a loss of belief in the moral and scientific consensus that animated the earlier Progressives, even while it ostensibly pursues many of the signature policies of the older Progressivism. The more recent Progressivism maintains that true freedom is the right of self-expression and self-determination, in spite of any restraint previously thought of as imposed by nature or a society oriented by an ideal of spiritual uplift. It formulates policies that increase dependency on government while jeopardizing both the pursuit of happiness and the equal protection of rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Post 1960s Progressives believe America is the cause of many of the world’s problems with our use of energy, natural resources, and our military power.

Post-1960s Progressivism actively promotes sexual liberation at the expense of the traditional family in order to overcome the purportedly intolerant and repressive standards of the older morality. Women and gays especially are considered victims of the older moral standards; they deserve legislation promoting their specific interests. As victims, they join thereby the ranks of other minority groups who require special privileges in recompense for discrimination. These policies dovetail with the current elevation of environmental concerns above the rights of individuals—the environment also must be freed from the exploitation of humankind.

The intrusion of government into the daily life of the citizen has greatly expanded in order to promote the interests of the growing number of victim groups. As a consequence of this new orientation, crony capitalism in the economy and an increasingly cynical ruling class of intellectuals and government experts are matched by an ever more detached citizenry. The resulting political situation is one in which not only freedom and equality, but also the security of life and the pursuit of happiness, are regularly harmed rather than secured by government.

In his 1965 commencement address at Howard University Lyndon Johnson said:

“The family is the cornerstone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work together to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together—all the rest: school, and playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern, will never be enough to cut completely the circle of despair and deprivation.”

Here you can see that, while an unabashed progressive, Johnson took great stock in the family. Today’s Post 1960s Progressives do not believe in the family. They encourage children to be raised in single parent house households through their rules and regulations governing the doling out of welfare payments. A single woman with four children will get a tidy sum if she stays single, but if she marries this sum will be greatly reduced. I would also propose that Johnson, Wilson or Croly would advocate adoption by a homosexual couple or advocate homosexual marriage.

In his 1964 Great Society Speech at the University of Michigan Johnson stated when talking about the environment:

The Great Society is a place where every child can find knowledge to enrich his mind and to enlarge his talents. It is a place where leisure is a welcome chance to build and reflect, not a feared cause of boredom and restlessness. It is a place where the city of man serves not only the needs of the body and the demands of commerce but the desire for beauty and the hunger for community.

It is a place where man can renew contact with nature. It is a place which honors creation for its own sake and for what it adds to the understanding of the race. It is a place where men are more concerned with the quality of their goals than the quantity of their goods. But most of all, the Great Society is not a safe harbor, a resting place, a final objective, a finished work. It is a challenge constantly renewed, beckoning us toward a destiny where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor.”

Here Johnson was advocating the beautification of our landscape and cities for the use of man (anthropocentric). The Post 1960s Progressives believe that our environment should be protected for sub-human species to the detriment of man. Look at the example of the Central Valley in California where a great deal of our food is grown. Irrigation water has been cut off from these farms and orchards to protect the delta smelt, a little fish that inhabits the regions around San Francisco Bay. The EPA and courts have said that the irrigation waters of the Central Valley make their way to the bay thus killing a fish that no one knows very much about. This decision was made due to the lobbing of a special interest group of biocentric environmentalists over the objections of the farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley thusly increasing the cost of food in your supermarket.

When it came to foreign policy the Wilsonian Progressives believed in a manifest destiny where it was our obligation to “civilize” lesser nations. This is what we did in the Philippines and Puerto Rico. It was in line with the thinking of Cecil Rhodes when he stated it was the white man’s burden to civilize the brown man. Theodore Roosevelt had no qualms about fomenting a civil war in Colombia for the purpose of creating the client state of Panama so he could build his canal. Wilson took this one step further by entering the First World War in order to “make the world safe for democracy”, a democracy ruled by progressives.

The Post 1960s Progressives have taken this Wilsonian Progressivism one step farther by wanting to not only bring democracy to other nations, but to bring educational and cultural reforms. In a speech before the United Nations in recognition of Human Rights Day Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said:

“It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay, or allow those who harm gay people to go unpunished. It is a violation of human rights when lesbian or transgendered women are subjected to so-called corrective rape, or forcibly subjected to hormone treatments.

Some worried in my country that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would have a negative effect on our armed forces. Now, the Marine Corps Commandant, who was one of the strongest voices against the repeal, says that his concerns were unfounded and that the Marines have embraced the change”

In June, South Africa took the lead on a resolution about violence against LGBT people. The delegation from South Africa spoke eloquently about their own experience and struggle for human equality and its indivisibility. When the measure passed, it became the first-ever UN resolution recognizing the human rights of gay people worldwide.

The Obama Administration defends the human rights of LGBT people as part of our comprehensive human rights policy and as a priority of our foreign policy.

The President has directed all U.S. Government agencies engaged overseas to combat the criminalization of LGBT status and conduct.

There is a phrase that people in the United States invoke when urging others to support human rights: “Be on the right side of history.” Those who advocate for expanding the circle of human rights were and are on the right side of history, and history honors them.”

Here we have the Secretary of State, a self-proclaimed progressive, urging the Islamic world and other nations with similar beliefs toward homosexuality, like China, to recognize the LGBT life style and agenda. The Post 1960s Progressives have discarded St Augustine’s City of God for the City of Man.

In the City of Man the ruling class (defined as the complex of government, the mainstream media, most of the academy, much of our senior military class and industrial and public sector unions that are tied to government power) are the experts and masterminds that want to control the resources between the haves and have-nots and as Dewey stated provide the mental equipment (education) that will bring the citizens into the progressive fold and away from our founding principle, which he called “negative freedoms.”

The Post 1960s Progressives have two basic core beliefs — the collective (group rights and a victim class) and corporatism.


Collectivism is a philosophy, which can manifest itself in a number of different ideologies; socialism, corporatism and Communism are all different examples of collectivist ideologies. Collectivists may diverge widely on their view of the good society – Nazis and Communists have different values – but the common theme in collectivism is taking a commonplace cliché (“we’re all in this together”) and transforming it into a governmental imperative to act always and only in pursuit of the “common good,” regardless of the varying desires of different individuals. Collectivists pursue policies that are ‘universal’ and mandatory across all of society; they believe not only that society as a whole has obligations to some of its members (the sick, the elderly) but that everyone’s fate must be lashed together whether we like it or not. The true hallmark of collectivism is not that it is against anyone failing on his own, but that it is against anyone succeeding on his own. The advocates of the collectivist state demand that every citizen feel that he did not build his success on his own – and, specifically, that all successes are indebted to the state and contingent on its continuing favor.

The need for a collective common good is, to some degree, true in any society short of anarchy; government provides goods like national defense and law enforcement on a collective basis. But collectivists extend that view to economics, education, health care, urban planning, and retirement. The collectivist approach is to enroll everyone in a single policy or program, to enforce universal participation out of fear that if the majority of the people are left to rise and fall on their own, they cannot be convinced to support their neighbors. The enemy of collectivism is the free individual, the person who needs no financial assistance from the state. The idea that individuals might take care of themselves and care for each other voluntarily is alien to the collectivist mind.

The opposite of collectivism is individualism, the philosophy in which people take responsibility for themselves and their families. Individualism does not, whatever liberals may tell you, necessarily lead to a callous disregard for one’s fellow man; the individualist may choose to give generously to charity, as many do. But to the individualist, charity is a voluntary choice, perhaps a moral obligation; it is not a mandate of the state.


Communism and socialism, which to varying degrees make the state a thing all people and property belong to, are the most familiar forms of collectivism. But corporatism has an equally long pedigree. This is a fairly concise explanation of the political-economic system of corporatism and a little of its intellectual history:

“The basic idea of corporatism is that the society and economy of a country should be organized into major interest groups (sometimes called corporations) and representatives of those interest groups settle any problems through negotiation and joint agreement. In contrast to a market economy which operates through competition a corporate economic works through collective bargaining. The American president Lyndon Johnson had a favorite phrase that reflected the spirit of corporatism. He would gather the parties to some dispute and say, “Let us reason together.”

Under corporatism the labor force and management in an industry belong to an industrial organization. The representatives of labor and management settle wage issues through collective negotiation. While this was the theory in practice the corporatist states were largely ruled according to the dictates of the supreme leader.

One early and important theorist of corporatism was Adam Müller, an advisor to Prince Metternich in what is now eastern Germany and Austria. Müller propounded his views as an antidote to the twin dangers of the egalitarianism of the French Revolution and the laissez faire economics of Adam Smith. In Germany and elsewhere there was a distinct aversion among rulers to allow markets to function without direction or control by the state. The general culture heritage of Europe from the medieval era was opposed to individual self-interest and the free operation of markets. Markets and private property were acceptable only as long as social regulation took precedence over such sinful motivations as greed.

Coupled with the anti-market sentiments of the medieval culture there was the notion that the rulers of the state had a vital role in promoting social justice. Thus corporatism was formulated as a system that emphasized the positive role of the state in guaranteeing social justice and suppressing the moral and social chaos of the population pursuing their own individual self-interests. And above all else, as a political economic philosophy corporatism was flexible. It could tolerate private enterprise within limits and justify major projects of the state. Corporatism has sometimes been labeled as a Third Way or a mixed economy, a synthesis of capitalism and socialism, but it is in fact a separate, distinctive political economic system.”

The crucial distinction between corporatism and socialism is that socialism demands public ownership and operation of businesses and other major institutions, whereas corporatism tolerates private ownership while insinuating pervasive government control.

In particular, the Roosevelt New Deal despite its many faults could not be described as fascist. But definitely the New Deal was corporatist. The architect for the initial New Deal program was General Hugh Johnson. Johnson had been the administrator of the military mobilization program for the U.S. under Woodrow Wilson during World War I. It was felt that he did a good job of managing the economy during that period and that is why he was given major responsibility for formulating an economic program to deal with the severe problems of the Depression. But between the end of World War I and 1933 Hugh Johnson had become an admirer of Mussolini's National Corporatist system in Italy and he drew upon the Italian experience in formulating the New Deal. It should be noted that many elements of the early New Deal were later declared unconstitutional and abandoned, but some elements such as the National Labor Relations Act which promoted unionization of the American labor force are still in effect. One part of the New Deal was the development of the Tennessee River Valley under the public corporation called the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Some of the New Dealer saw TVA as more than a public power enterprise. They hoped to make TVA a model for the creation of regional political units which would replace state governments. Their goal was not realized. The model for TVA was the river development schemes carried out in Spain in the 1920's under the government of Miguel Primo de Rivera. Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, was the founder of Franco's National Syndicalism.

It’s almost impossible to find real-world examples of a pure laissez faire economy; in practice, all states that are not wholly Communist have adopted some elements of the corporatist approach, but the degree to which corporatist thought and policy trump free-market ideas can vary widely in practice. Historically, the classic corporatist systems have operated in fascist states such as Mussolini’s Italy and, yes, Nazi Germany, but the United States also followed a heavily corporatist policy during World War I under Woodrow Wilson and throughout FDR’s New Deal. Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism presents one of the more detailed-yet-accessible histories of this strain in American politics since Wilson, covering its intellectual common ground with the European fascist economic and social-policy systems.

If the natural enemy of the collectivist system in general is the free individual, the natural enemy of the corporatist system is the free institution — the private business (from small businesses to large corporations), the free church, the independent trade union, the private civic or charitable organization (e.g., the Boy Scouts), the private hospital, the homeowner’s association or neighborhood watch, the unregulated newspaper, TV channel or political action committee — in short, any way in which individuals can associate with each other or participate in the life of their communities without the intermediation of government telling them how to do so. These are what Edmund Burke called our “little platoons,” the non-governmental civil society that Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America identified as central to the American experience. And while respect for such institutions is especially critical to the American way of life, they are central to civil society anywhere: even the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child,” appropriated by Hillary Clinton and other liberal Democrats in support of collectivist enterprises, need not necessarily imply government, but rather community — neighbors and families looking out for each other.

Corporatist systems do not seek the abolition of these institutions — the Italian Fascists, unlike the Communists, did not reflexively ban Christian churches or private corporations — but rather to co-opt, compromise and control them, to ensure that a combination of financial enticements and regulations saps them of their independence from the state. The same impulse, in the American federal system, extends even to the independence of state and local governments; as long as things like health and education are the province of many and varied governments, corporatist systems fear that they will not be able to impose their policies universally and must contend with competition from approaches that may prove more attractive in practice. Few Americans are pure Rugged Individualists or Randian Objectivists, committed to every-man-for-himself; more so even than the size of government or the imposition on the individual, it is the assault on private organizations, community groups and local government that brings corporatism into conflict with fundamental American values and traditions.

Corporatism’s focus on collective bargaining inherently promotes bigness — Big Government, Big Business, Big Labor. The national leader, like Obama, can sit at a bargaining table with a handful of CEOs and union heads, and determine what price is needed to buy off their support for a particular policy, or what threats are required to keep them all in line; he cannot do the same with thousands of small businesses and local school boards. (This is, ironically, why corporatist systems took root more easily in Catholic countries, as the Catholic Church is a much larger target than a profusion of tiny Protestant congregations. It is also why it’s easier to control urban populations than diffuse rural ones). Large organizations can more easily absorb and accommodate themselves to gradual increases in state control without noticing, as the burdens of an administrative state squeeze their smaller competitors out of business. And large organizations can also more easily conceal in their large balance sheets the washing of the other hand — the campaign contribution, donation to a favored cause or outright bribe needed to persuade the corporatist political leader to look upon the organization with the favors the state can dispense, and not withhold them.

Socialism has a role in the corporatist state: it’s the bad cop. The corporatist leader can always implicitly, or explicitly, threaten that his followers — or his political adversaries or neighboring states, for that matter — are the mob that wants to demand a wholesale takeover, which only he can hold back, so you had better play ball. This is where corporatism’s philosophy is married to the practical tactics of the urban political machine, nowhere in America more entrenched than in Chicago.

This brings us to Obama and his party. Obama does not merely have a disdain for working in the private sector — it is a deeper ideological commitment to delegitimize that sector as a force independent from the government. Obama touched off a firestorm in mid-July when he gave the following remarks (tellingly, at a speech in which he was not using a Teleprompter); it’s worth both reading them and watching the video to get the full context:

“Look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

So we say to ourselves, ever since the founding of this country, you know what, there are some things we do better together. That’s how we funded the GI Bill. That’s how we created the middle class. That’s how we built the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hoover Dam. That’s how we invented the Internet. That’s how we sent a man to the moon. We rise or fall together as one nation and as one people, and that’s the reason I’m running for president – because I still believe in that idea. You’re not on your own, we’re in this together.”

Here, in a nutshell, is the collectivist mindset contending with a straw man version of individualism. Obama sets up a parallel between pure individualism of a sort that exists nowhere — an individualism that denies the existence of communities, private institutions and routine institutions of local government — and support for the length and breadth of his expansive federal agenda. He doesn’t merely argue for recognition of the need for basic public services; he directly attacks the idea that intelligence and hard work are important elements of success, suggesting that what is really important is who gives you help. (Be sure to watch in the video for how he feeds off the crowd’s enthusiasm for his mockery of merit and hard work). In so doing, of course, he marginalizes to the point of non-existence the role of anything but government in creating businesses. The fallacy of this is obvious: places like North Korea do not have booming economies simply because their governments have invested a lot of money in road-building. But what Obama was doing in that speech was seeking to delegitimize private success as a thing owing no debt to government officials. The idea of people who don’t owe the government anything seems to alarm him. Obama’s words echoed a 2011 speech by Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, another radical Post 1960s Progressive:

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory – and hire someone to protect against this – because of the work the rest of us did.

Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea. God bless – keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is, you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

There has been a decades-long legal-academic movement to reject or at least diminish the Lockean natural-law concept of property (i.e., property is something created or built by the labor of individuals, which the State arises to protect from Hobbesian brigands) and elevate in its place a “New Property” in which property is defined, more or less, as what the State permits you to keep. The full intellectual history of this movement is well beyond the scope of this essay; the roots run at least to the effort to justify the New Deal’s intrusions on property rights, and at the endpoint reach the Marxist worldview of the Critical Legal Studies movement and its critiques of the entire idea of individual rights. The real landmark for understanding the movement is Charles A. Reich’s celebrated 1964 Yale Law Journal article entitled “The New Property.”

Reich noted the ever-growing share of national wealth, even in 1964, that derived from “government largesse” — public employment, welfare benefits, occupational licenses, subsidies, government contracts, use of public lands — and argued that too much of this largesse was enjoyed at the mercy of essentially lawless administrative discretion. Reich argued that some of this largesse should be considered property:

“As things now stand, violations lead to forfeitures-outright confiscation of wealth and status. Confiscation, if used at all, should be the ultimate, not the most common and convenient penalty. The presumption should be that the professional man will keep his license and the welfare recipient his pension. These interests should be “vested.” If revocation is necessary, not by reason of the fault of the individual holder, but by reason of overriding demands of public policy, perhaps payment of just compensation would be appropriate. The individual should not bear the entire loss for a remedy primarily intended to benefit the community.”

Reich argued in particular for property-rights protections for welfare benefits, as “part of the individual’s rightful share in the commonwealth.” Reich warned as well that:

“[T]he growth of government power based on the dispensing of wealth must be kept within bounds…[T]here must be a zone of privacy for each individual beyond which neither government nor private power can push-a hiding place from the all-pervasive system of regulation and control…If the individual is to survive in a collective society, he must have protection against its ruthless pressures. There must be sanctuaries or enclaves where no majority can reach.”

To collectivists, the more people receive benefits of one kind or another from the government, the more they can be treated as compromised in their standing to object to endless expansions of government. ThinkProgress, for example, cites as a point of pride a factoid showing that 96% of Americans have received some form of government support, undoubtedly through gritted teeth at the remaining 4%.

In Obama’s case, of course, there’s also the matter of his long experience of machine politics in Chicago. Abner Mikva, one of Obama’s mentors, in the 1990s, used to tell this story about his introduction to Chicago politics:

“[O]n the way home from law school one night in 1948, I stopped by the ward headquarters in the ward where I lived. There was a street-front, and the name Timothy O’Sullivan, Ward Committeeman, was painted on the front window. I walked in and I said “I’d like to volunteer to work for [Adlai] Stevenson and [Paul] Douglas.” This quintessential Chicago ward committeeman took the cigar out of his mouth and glared at me and said, “Who sent you?” I said, “Nobody sent me.” He put the cigar back in his mouth and he said, “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.” This was the beginning of my political career in Chicago.”

Between the typical machine politician’s view that what matters is who sent you and the academic view that what matters is who helped you, it’s easy to see where Obama picked up the view that individual success is not an idea worth taking seriously.

Where does this attitude lead? To justifying high-handed government interference in business, first and foremost by deciding that the government is within its rights in redistributing the fruits of business success away from those who would otherwise keep them.

Obama has spoken often enough of his desire for more governmental redistribution of wealth. Here he is as a State Senator in 1998, talking about his goals in housing and education:

“[A]s we try to resuscitate this notion that we’re all in this thing together, leave nobody behind, we do have to be innovative in thinking how, what are the delivery systems that are actually effective and meet people where they live, and my suggestion I guess would be that the trick, and this is one of the few areas where I think there have to be technical issues that have to be dealt with as opposed to just political issues, how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”

Here’s State Senator Obama again in 2001, discussing his view that it was a “tragedy” that the civil rights movement did not do more to “bring about redistributive change”:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and the more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society, and to that extent, as radical as, I think, people try to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical; it didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers and the Constitution. One of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court focused, I think, there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change, and in some ways, we still suffer from that. You can craft theoretical justification for it legally, and any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.”

Obama’s long and close association with ACORN (including training its activists), known among other things for its agitation directed at getting banks to distribute more loans to subprime borrowers, is of course a logical outgrowth of this view. In a 2002 speech, Obama – dripping scorn – offered his audience a rationalization for drawing a moral equivalence between layoffs and riots:

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure people don’t take their stuff. When a company town sees its plant closing because some distant executives made some decision despite the wage concessions, despite the tax breaks, and they see their entire economy collapsing, they feel violence.”

In the same speech, Obama argued that it was “fundamentally unjust” to have an educational system that is not redistributive:

“Illinois, like many states in the country, has an education system that is funded by property taxes. It is fundamentally unjust. So you have folks up in Winnetka, pupils who are getting five times as much money per student as students in the South Side of Chicago.”

Note that the argument here is not merely that the students in the South Side need more funds in their schools, but that it is unfair to them that another community is using its own money to spend more on its own schools. This captures perfectly the spirit of collectivism, in which success is seen as an affront if it is independent of the rest of the community.

Obama has become cagier in how he talks about redistribution, but the mask sometimes drops. In his first presidential campaign, late in the 2008 primaries, Obama responded to a debate question from Charlie Gibson by admitting that he’d raise capital gains taxes “for purposes of fairness” regardless of whether it brought in any additional revenue — proof that his devotion to the oft-touted Buffett Rule was never about revenue:

“GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.

So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I’ve said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

We saw an article today which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year — $29 billion for 50 individuals. And part of what has happened is that those who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.”

The logical end result of this view of the illegitimacy of private enterprise and the right of government to redistribute the proceeds of private labor is to break down the barriers to a government-controlled collective society. But such a society needs a positive ideology of its own, and we see that as well from Obama, his wife and his party.

From the outset of the national Obama movement, many of the trappings of collectivist and in particular corporatist movements were apparent – the obsessive veneration of youth, the insistence that the movement represented a “Third Way” stressing pragmatism over ideology, the cult of the Man of Action (one could hardly hope to count the number of times Obama declared that “the time for talk is over” or variants of the same). Michelle Obama, in February 2008, famously framed the movement as one that would place upon its supporters demands of continuing active allegiance, rather than individual independence and privacy:

“Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, and uninformed.

You have to stay at the seat at the table of democracy with a man like Barack Obama not just on Tuesday but in a year from now, in four years from now, in eight years from now, you will have to be engaged.”

The unusual extent to which the Obama campaign has marketed itself as a movement centered on a cult of personality is directed at this impulse to have supporters belong and not simply support. More recently, we have seen the Obama campaign pushing its own flag with the Obama logo in place of the stars in the American flag (Obama’s own Twitter account urged supporters to buy this from his campaign store), its own hand-over-heart salute and similar iconography, and the like. The Democrats’ own convention, this year, featured an opening-night video declaring that “Government is the only thing that we all belong to,” unfavorably contrasting the “different churches or different clubs” that Americans belong to.

From Johnson to Obama the Post 1960s Progressives have been hard at work pushing their agenda of Collectivism, Group Rights, Victimhood, and Corporatism. I do not blame only Democrats, but Republicans have been doing their share by either joining in or standing on the sidelines. Today we have a nation where the Congress has abdicated much of its constitutional authority to the executive and courts, something our Founders never conceived.