Shameful Fourth of July to you all

I’m certainly not celebrating today. We’ve got more to regret than to praise.

We’re running concentration camps on our southern border. It’s not a recent aberration, either: we were enslaving people before we became a nation, we built this country on the labor of the barracoon. We slaughtered the native population and herded the survivors into reservations. My university was founded on the site of an Indian school, where children were ripped from their families and imprisoned to be taught White Man’s Ways; there’s a big sign outside the building where I work to remind me of that every day.

We’ve been at war since our founding. It’s easy to forget, since we civilians are kept fairly well insulated from the consequences, but if you’re one of the working poor drafted to fight, or worse, one of the targets of our wrath, you know it. Nowadays we do most of our killing remotely, with drones or bombers, so even the military suffers little pain.

We’ve elected a crude, ignorant boor to the presidency who is disgracing our nation before the eyes of the world. We have a state propaganda channel that funnels lies to the populace. The “newspaper of record” provides a mouthpiece to apologists for the status quo. We’re having a goddamn military parade in the capitol today. I’m torn between thinking that at least it honestly represents the spirit of the country and thinking it is deplorable and vile.

I’m expected to treat this as a holiday celebration?

I’m not going to. I’m waiting to celebrate the revolution that erases this stain.


  1. nomadiq says

    I don’t deny the chart, but when were those 21 years?

    As for July 4, I’m not American despite living in the US for many years, so what it means for me is a reminder of how cool certain metallic ions look when shot firely into the sky and the pungent smell of sulphur dioxide. I guess some smart and motivated people organized their own country and rebelled against royalty (Yay!) and their experiment continues to this day. They were far from perfect people. And, yes, the apparatus has now been handed over to some terrible, dishonest experimentalists with selfish motivated reasoning as their driving principle rather than forming a better union.

  2. weylguy says

    In 1944, many high-level commanders in Germany’s military decided they’d had enough of their Führer to attempt his assassination. But that was Germany 75 years ago, which didn’t have Fox News, a hypocritical white evangelical bloc and a population lusting to get rich at any cost.

  3. Sonja says

    The Founders gave the power to declare war to Congress. They did not want a standing army. The Founders knew that slavery was a violation of the founding principles — they wrote about it. We can celebrate these ideas and principles even though people have failed them. In fact, we should make a big fucking deal about how anti-American Trump’s policies are. Read the Declaration of Independence — the colonists were objecting to the King interfering with free trade and free immigration!

  4. davidc1 says

    All those high level commanders had been only too happy to share in adolfs victories .
    Doc ,America is a young nation plenty of time to catch up with good old England ,recently read a book
    “All The Countries We have Ever Invaded “,of the 193 countries who are members of the UN we have invaded or fought wars with
    171 of them .

  5. says

    Yeah, but of those wars, how many did the US start? “All of them” you say? Nevermind.

    The US strategy on global imperialism is to say “now look what you made me do!”

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sonja @ 4

    The Founders knew that slavery was a violation of the founding principles — they wrote about it.

    Which didn’t stop many of them from owning (and raping) slaves and denying voting rights to anyone who wasn’t a white, male, landowner.

    …the colonists were objecting to the King interfering with free trade and free immigration!

    You mean when King George III made treaties with allied Native American tribes to leave their land alone, but the colonists REALLY wanted to steal it from them?

  7. PaulBC says

    The Declaration of Independence is an exciting and very readable founding document, regardless of who wrote it, what their motives were, or whether we’ve lived up to our ideals as a nation (we haven’t).

    I hate the fact that July 4 is supposed to be a litmus test for nationalism and certainly Trump would like it to be one. I am not a nationalist. In middle age I am a little more “patriotic” than I was as a snotty kid. But thanks to Trump, I’m not sure that’s even true anymore. Obama did have me going with the “arc bending towards justice” thing. Nope. It’ll bend right back at the slightest change.

    I do find it inspiring that nearly 250 years ago, someone wrote “we hold these truths to be self evident …” (and resisted the urge to couch human rights in religious language), set forth a concise summary what governments are for (“to secure these rights”) what makes them legitimate (“the consent of the governed”) and presented a justification for taking extreme measures to change them.

    The language itself is stirring (“a long train of abuses and usurpations”) and the list of specific charges against George III makes for a great dramatic reading. This not archaic legalize but poetry. It makes the Constitution look like it was drawn up by a committee (which I suppose it was).

    Yes, it was written by wealthy European landowners who wanted to protect their ability to exploit a continent. I realize that. I still think it is a fine piece of writing, and really does contain a glimpse of Enlightenment principles that can be applied more widely.

    Fireworks. Not a huge fan or detractor, and I know dogs hate them. But I went to see them as a kid and bring my kids now. I even went to see them on the National Mall a couple of times and it disgusts me to think they have been moved to put tanks there. I always found the DC event too crowded with lines to port-a-johns and all that. For anyone in the area, I’d recommend fireworks at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore if it hasn’t changed since I was there about 6 years ago.

    Finely, I really like Megan Rapinoe’s simple assertion “I am extremely American.” Me too. I was born here. I am not of any other culture, though I lived abroad briefly. If you’re leftwing and think I should be ashamed of this, you can f— off. I’m American whether I like it or you like it. If you’re rightwing and think I’m not “patriotic” enough to say I am extremely American, then you can f— off too. If I’m not American, what am I? I’m not “proud” of it anymore than I am of my height, my last name, or my hair type. It is stupid to be proud of things you obviously had no choice in. But it is my country. It is disgraceful to see a president (also very American of course) get his job and this particular holiday so wrong. So I’ll feel some shame today, but not for the even that July 4 commemorates.

  8. colinday says

    Wait, 21 + 214 = 235, but 2019 – 1776 = 243. Where are the other eight years?


    Just try saying “Happy Perihelion” on Dec. 23.

  9. Sean Boyd says

    colinday @12,
    Eight years between the Declaration of Independence and ratification of the Treaty of Paris.

  10. says

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

    (See: Akira @10)

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

    Wonderful men, these founders.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal

    I’d like to see someone argue that this is the generic “men” that women should consider ourselves part of even though, based on when women finally got the vote in the US, it clearly means just men (and white ones only at that).

  11. Pierce R. Butler says

    colinday @ # 12: Just try saying “Happy Perihelion” on Dec. 23.

    I predict a better reception if you say it on January 5.

  12. says

    In these parts, many Native Americans are a prospering segment of the population, with their casinos and some of the most attractive resort communities, not to mention the $$Millions in annual “illegal” fireworks sales to scofflaws who just can’t resist the sizzle and bang, regardless of the risks to limb and property. We’ll be sitting quietly indoors tonight trying to comfort our old black Lab who’ll be looking for a piece of furniture to hide under at every nearby boom. Is this the red man’s revenge?

  13. PaulBC says

    @Tabby Lavalamp Yes, it was written by men (literally) with an agenda I don’t fully endorse. I think as a template, it’s still a great advance for its time in the understanding of government. England had its own reasons for restricting the colonists, and it was not to promote the rights of indigenous people.

    But yeah, even if my national anthem were to be Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and not Francis Scott Key’s jingoistic lyrics, I’d have to concede that, no, it was actually somebody else’s land first. We moved here and pushed some other people out (though in the case of my ancestors, who settled in New York, I’d argue that the Dutch had basically already done the job centuries earlier).

    I have am ethical stance that possibly makes me no better than a beneficiary of mafia gifts that “fell off a truck.” I’d like to minimize the harm I do, but basically, I have to live, and nobody gets to choose where they are born and what benefits that land brings to them. I am American with all the benefits and all the moral onus that brings.

  14. unclefrogy says

    the forth of july celebrates or commemorates the Declaration of Independence not the the U.S. Constitution or the founding off the country either really.
    the specific grievances against the king and crown are historical the principles set forth were set forth as the reason for those grievances and the only honest noble purpose of government. It obviously not an end but a beginning that the signers committed themselves to , a struggle to achieve those principles as a working frame work to govern themselves.
    Clearly that task that they committed themselves to has not been completed yet.
    It is not some historical sacred document that we honor in some sentimental way with pious words and loud noises not for me anyway. It is that time of the year that i reflect on the struggle that still continues and rededicate myself to it. They did achieve one important step toward the goal we are not under the control of some foreign king but we still have to struggle against the many home grown would be kings and masters that arise out of greed and the lust for power.
    self-governing is a b****h but better then serfdom
    uncle frogy

  15. kome says

    Paul @17

    I like the casually equating of “Native Americans” and “illegal” activities, as if the prosperity of Native American reservations or communities is largely dependent on criminal behavior. Really sells it, especially with the added touch of thinking that the “red man’s revenge” (darling phrase, by the way) for being systematically exterminated and relocated by the United States government to be… contributing to energetic and happy white people making loud noises that upsets your dog. Sucks for the dog, but it is just a few hours on a few days of the years as opposed to… oh wow the entire period between 1803 to 1892, officially.

    It’s not quite Stormfront levels of d-baggery, but it is in that sweet spot where the out-of-touch white middle class privilege and self-absorption is dripping all over the place while still providing the pretense that you didn’t say anything untoward because you’re “complimenting” their prosperity.

  16. PaulBC says

    @kome (Too many Pauls here, not to mention PZ, and I see you are not replying to me)

    I am in total support of Native Americans having a monopoly (which they don’t) on casinos. It is certainly the least we can do (really, about the least) in the way of reparations. I’m not a huge fan of people losing their money that way who can’t afford to, but it’s going to happen anyway. Would I rather it go to the Trump family?

  17. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m not enjoying this Independence Day at all. Not just because of our nation’s bloody, hypocritical history and the current political situation, but I’m also stuck working today AND I just caught a nasty chest cold. Right now, I’m running on day-time cold tables, coffee, and cough drops. When I’m done with my shift, I’m going home, push whatever we’re having for dinner down my gullet, then crawling off to bed. I’m going to have to wear earplugs to snuff out the constant fusillade of fireworks that will be set off by my redneck neighbors.

  18. aramad88 says

    I have seen versions of that pie chart with an even larger portion on the war side.

  19. rq says

    Interestingly, over here, July 4th is the National Day of Commemoration of Jewish Victims of the Holocaust (the full title translates a bit funny), and is a national day of mourning.

  20. wzrd1 says

    While we have a tin horn dictator wannabe launching a military parade to threaten the populace in our capitol, I still have to ask, what draft?
    I had a 27 year, 8 month military career, I have since, contracted with the DoD extensively, I oddly have failed to notice even a singular instance of conscripts. Indeed, those ordered by a court to join the military are summarily rejected for service, something that I observed back in 1982, the rejection, that is.

    So, PZ, do show me even one person who fulfills your description of “It’s easy to forget, since we civilians are kept fairly well insulated from the consequences, but if you’re one of the working poor drafted to fight, or worse, one of the targets of our wrath, you know it.”
    I also dispute exclusive remote controlled warfare, something I actually do have personal experience with, along with the direct and personal warfare, with a dearth of remote controlled anything, other than a radio to call in artillery or air support. Maybe that’s in the future, we’ll have robots to replace rude young men to physically take land away from its former occupiers, but not currently.
    Maybe we’ll call such remote controlled assets terminators or something.

    That all griped at, happy Interdependence Day!
    May our next military parade be more representative, earth moving equipment, followed by the far more common supply moving equipment, laden with disaster supplies, headed to homeless shelters for a change.
    Followed by combat engineers, whose destination is something that they loved, building a school.

  21. jrkrideau says

    And as Sun Tzu once said
    There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.

  22. davidc1 says

    Just think about all them deep fried Turkeys exploding today ,or am i thinking of thanksgiving day ?

  23. ridana says

    The business aspects of the Fourth of July is not perfect as it stands. See what it costs us every year with loss of life, the crippling of thousands with its fireworks, and the burning down of property. It is not only sacred to patriotism and universal freedom, but to the surgeon, the undertaker, the insurance offices — and they are working it for all it is worth.
    — Mark Twain 1899

  24. nomdeplume says

    Like others here I wondered about the 21 years “free of war”, but I guess they include years where the CIA was undermining left wing governments by means other than overt war.

  25. unclefrogy says

    I agree with much you said we have drones not as many as we pretend nor as effective i would bet and it is still the grunt down on the ground who gets his leg blown off and watches his buddy take one hard.
    i know we have an all volunteer force today but it has seldom been the soldier who decides to go and fight some place it has always been someone else who does that and these days it looks like as not to be for their own personal reasons. So I took the phrase drafted to imply that they were sent to die for temporary political reasons and certainly not to “win” we do not even know what that would be if it happened, just pawns without any formal consent i am aware of. I mean isn’t congress supposed to declare war? Now we just get executive actions and if it was not for our ability to keep the grievously wounded alive the body count would have long ago ended this fighting we are now putting our military through.
    uncle frogy

  26. unclefrogy says

    those 21 years are not consecutive but more likely cumulative
    you know a month here a month there over the years since 1789 it adds up to 21 years

  27. John Morales says


    May our next military parade be more representative, earth moving equipment, followed by the far more common supply moving equipment, laden with disaster supplies, headed to homeless shelters for a change.
    Followed by combat engineers, whose destination is something that they loved, building a school.

    The military’s purpose is to kill people and break stuff. Its main use is to intimidate others.
    Military parades are a celebration of that. Obviously. A celebration of militarism.

    To pretend the military is somehow a civil works or a charity organisation is a bullshit exculpation.
    Might as well pretend a pistol is a tool for hammering nails — you can use it as such, but that is not its designed purpose, nor is it a particularly efficient tool for that purpose, and it’s a shitload more expensive than an actual hammer.

  28. daemonios says

    unclefrogy @32

    I disagree. I think “drafted” was meant as “more or less forcibly recruited into the military”. There is more than one way to force someone to do this. A legal mandate is one. Heavily recruiting volunteers in poor communities, presenting military service as a (or rather, the only) path to some sort of financial independence is another.
    Once in the military, service men and women are expected to follow orders and go wherever they are deployed. You can argue to what extent those people should follow orders, or whether their deployment for specific actions is legal or moral, but those are separate issues.

  29. nomdeplume says

    The shorter version of Trump’s speech – “America, America above all—above everything in the world”. Didn’t work out so well for the last country that claimed that.

  30. dma8751482 says

    I have to wonder, has any civilization ever spent more than maybe half of its existence at peace (or at minimum, not involved in any large scale conflict)? I’ve been wracking my brains trying to figure out, but at this point it may very well be possible that the old saying “to err is human” should be replaced by “to war is human”.

  31. cartomancer says

    Well of course you’re having a military parade at the Capitol. That’s why you called it that – playing at being Roman soldiers. The original Capitol – the Capitoline Hill in Rome – was where the Triumphal parades awarded to conquering generals ended up, so the general could sacrifice to Jupiter Ferretrius at his temple and, if he had any, dedicate the spolia opimia (the enemy general’s armour and gear, captured in single combat) for the glory of Rome. Rome too was at war for most of its history, though the Romans made a point of displaying this fact prominently at the centre of their city. The doors of the great Temple of Janus were left open during times of war, and closed at times of peace – a very rare occurrence indeed. The Romans, at least, did not try to convince themselves that they were not an extremely warlike people.

    The US was founded, entirely consciously, in imitation of Rome as an Imperial power. Your national symbolism is rife with it, and your history has been tailored to match. Though by the time Rome started trying to prevent migrations into its Empire and treating said migrants appallingly badly (I’m thinking of Ammianus Marcellinus’s account of the Goths’ Danube crossing of 376) it was very late in the day and the strength and coherence of Roman Imperial power was winding down with increasing speed. One might well hope yours follows suit. You’ve created more than enough desolations and called them peace.

  32. Rob Grigjanis says

    John @34:

    To pretend the military is somehow a civil works or a charity organisation is a bullshit exculpation

    Do you mean “the military” in general, or the US Armed Forces? If the latter: Never mind.

    If the former: It might be bullshit, but your use of “exculpation” suggests that you think the mere existence of armed forces is somehow blameworthy. Do you think Australia (or any other country) should unilaterally disband its armed forces?

  33. John Morales says


    Do you mean “the military” in general


    It might be bullshit, but your use of “exculpation” suggests that you think the mere existence of armed forces is somehow blameworthy.

    They are not benign, contrary to wzrd1’s spin.

    Do you think Australia (or any other country) should unilaterally disband its armed forces?

    Weird inference. No.

    What I think is that one should not pretend a weapon is not a weapon, nor defend their possession of a pistol on the grounds they use it as a hammer, particularly they publicly and evidently use it as a tool of intimidation and shoot people with it.

    Or: By all means, celebrate your military might, but don’t then pretend it’s a humanitarian force.

  34. John Morales says

    For example:

    The military has many missions. Their primary mission of course is to defend the U.S. and U.S. interests. Looking more closely though, you can see that the military does a lot more than simply fight. Some examples of military missions include:

    Rescue operations
    Medical assistance in impoverished areas
    Food & humanitarian relief
    Security at embassies and other locations
    Policing in volatile areas
    Natural disaster relief
    Law enforcement
    Piracy and drug interdiction The military is also the nation's biggest group of international ambassadors. As such, there is a great deal of responsibility and respect to show. Find out more about service-specific missions here: Air Force Missions Army Missions National Guard Missions Coast Guard Missions Marine Corps Missions Navy Missions


  35. John Morales says


    So, PZ, do show me even one person who fulfills your description of “It’s easy to forget, since we civilians are kept fairly well insulated from the consequences, but if you’re one of the working poor drafted to fight, or worse, one of the targets of our wrath, you know it.”

    “Conscription is the compulsory induction of individuals into the Armed Services, whereas the draft is the procedure by which individuals are chosen for conscription.”

    Pretty clear that, since conscription is not currently active in the USA, those drafted refers to those who were selected as eligible to join from the applicant pool. Which you is typically the working poor (except for officers, presumably, they’re generally upper-class) because for them it’s a way up, when they get to leave.

    Anyway, I think that objection, while sorta technically accurate, does not invalidate the larger point PZ makes there.

  36. Akira MacKenzie says

    I don’t mind the idea of a permanent military force to “defend the United States.”

    It’s that “defend U.S. interests” part that bothers me. (i.e. “U.S. Interests” has always meant “U.S. billionaire/millionaire capitalist interests” to me.)

  37. PaulBC says

    Aside from the word “drafted”, it is certainly true that most Americans are keep well-insulated from the consequences of our recent wars. When I was in college in the 80s, I knew some people who joined ROTC, mostly Air Force, and I don’t think any of them had a notion of ever fighting in a war. Times have changed since the first Gulf War, and it is remarkable to me that we can maintain “voluntary” armed forces when there is a real possibility of being sent into harm’s way.

    I don’t want any of it. The first Gulf War sickened me with all the cheerleading around our “smart bombs.” Yeah, I suppose you need a military to maintain security of a wealthy nation state, but you don’t have to act like you’re so happy about it, as our media sometimes does, especially when it comes to high tech weapons.

    I would never want to see a draft return but, I do worry about the severe division of society into those with some connection to the military and those without. This is a huge thing, and it probably accounts for major cultural and regional differences. I do have a nephew who signed up and served in Iraq. I respect him for it, but mainly I’m happy he returned in one piece. The forever war has got to end, and Trump’s speech today is not helping.

  38. unclefrogy says


    Heavily recruiting volunteers in poor communities, presenting military service as a (or rather, the only) path to some sort of financial independence

    That is as it always has been the “grunt” has always been from the poorer classes whose choices have always been constrained some time conscripted and some times not.
    I was just took the statement in it’s broader sense sans conscription
    the subject did remind me of one of my favorite songs being “Arthur McBride” a story whose subject is English recruiting Irish to join the army in the 19th century
    went and looked on the tube for a link but could decide on one
    just words turning to make a broader point maybe ,I am very tired of crippled and dead soldiers.
    uncle frogy

  39. lucifersbike says

    Trump as quoted by MSNBC. “In June of 1775, the Continental Congress created a unified Army out of the Revolutionary Forces encamped around Boston and New York, and named after the great George Washington, commander in chief,” Trump said.
    “Our Army manned the air, it rammed the ramparts, it took over the airports, it did everything it had to do, and at Fort McHenry, under the rocket’s red glare it had nothing but victory,” he continued. “And when dawn came, their star-spangled banner waved defiant.”
    Say what you like about the late Adolf, his speeches, while vile, were (mostly) coherent; and he didn’t believe there were airports in 1775. WTAF did Trump mean with “manning the air” and “ramming ramparts”?

  40. blf says

    I presume ramming ramparts means breaching ramparts (by, e.g., sappers). Also, the Fort McHenry slaughter (and the rockets’s reference) refer to the 1812 war, not the 1770’s war.

  41. stroppy says

    Lethality may be at the core of the military, but it’s mission expands into all sorts of areas.
    Army Corps of Engineers

    “Mission creep” isn’t unique to the US. Check out Egypt:

    The Egyptian military owns business enterprises that are in almost every sector and produce an extremely wide area of services and goods. It runs hotels, sea resorts, and apartment buildings along with lavish villas. It owns cement, steel, jeep, fertilizer, home appliances, pasta, and other factories; runs gas stations; and constructs toll highways. Moreover, ex-generals occupy the top civilian positions in the state’s administrative apparatus in control of key sectors, from public transportation systems to water and sewerage services, Internet lines, social housing projects, and more. This situation is far from being a new phenomenon that emerged with the election of a new president from the military last year; its entrenched roots go back to the last six decades of the country’s history.

  42. PaulBC says

    We can ridicule Trump’s incoherence and whatever he said about “airports” all we want, but I can’t help concluding we were pwned on visuals. Trump got the huge crowd he didn’t have for his inauguration (never mind that there is always a big crowd at the Mall on July 4) and there are pictures to prove it.

    He couldn’t turn it into a political rally without violating the Hatch Act, but I’m sure his campaign can use video of the Blue Angels flying over the Lincoln Memorial all they want. That kind of footage isn’t intended for me (and I’ll assume PZ) but between Americans who think we should be honoring the military more than we do already and those who just think it looks cool, that picture is a net positive for Trump.

    Then we have people burning the flag in front of the White House. As much as I support their First Amendment right to do it, I’m not sure what the point is supposed to be. It will certainly be used to tar all of Trump’s opponents. The Trump baby balloon is funny and appropriate, but it’s just sniping from a position of weakness. It was grounded anyway, and apparently did not attract all that much attention. NYT reports that the concert side of the event was sparsely attended compared to the Trump side.

    Anyone have an unbiased answer on whether moving the firework launch made things better or worse, aside from everything else? I haven’t been to the Mall for this in at least 25 years and I didn’t realize they were normally launched from the Washington Monument (am I mistaken here’). Opening up that area to spectators and choosing a different launch point would not be a terrible idea. (Note: tanks on American’s public square is a terrible idea.)

    Pwned though. No question about it. I feel sick.

  43. Sonja says

    @10 Duh, but I should have made clear in this quick comment, as I did on my comment on PZs Facebook, that we can honor the principles of the Founders and not the failures of the men. Their thought experiments created a system of self-government and they inspired the formation of Constitutional Democracies around the world. There have been more progressive Constitutions written, but this was the first in the world. They solved the problem of religion in government by keeping religion out of government (unfortunately, there are still nations with state religions and blasphemy laws today). Other principles include freedom of speech and the press, separation of powers, civilian control of military, rule of law, redress of grievances in courts, etc. That said, my point was that Trump’s trade wars and immigrant jails would have been anathema to the Founders, as would endless foreign wars. Washington’s ‘great rule’ was to only be involved with other nations in trade, not politics.

  44. PaulBC says


    You had me up to “would have been anathema to the Founders.” All we have from ~250 years ago are words. We can’t read minds, let alone the minds of dead people. I think the words in the Declaration of Independence are mostly unambiguous (unlike the Constitution, which has some really bad writing; the 2nd amendment is a mess). To extent that there are sound principles, they should be followed (“honored” not so sure what that means) and sometimes extended (e.g. “all men” is at least ambiguous) Other evidence suggests that the writers were hypocrites and didn’t follow their own principles, but I agree that this is not an indictment of the principles themselves (and we might prefer primary sources such as Locke).

    I imagine if the “founders” could roll in their graves it would be about a lot of things I like and find entirely consistent with the broad outline of human rights in the Declaration, as understood in light of centuries of struggle since the Enlightenment. I’d have some agreement with them too, no doubt. E.g., the modern police state and continued erosion of 4th amendment rights is counter to founding principles, and I concur. On the other hand, the needs of a modern state to collect taxes and regulate for safety, correcting market failures, and indeed redistributing wealth in some cases is also counter to founding principles, but in terms of pure risk/benefit I believe that the founding principles are inadequate in this case.

    So in short, the founding documents are an excellent start and they beat hereditary rule by many miles. Sadly, there is not a lot of room to make updates without losing the good parts (show of hands, anyone want a Constitutional convention?).

    Hmm… I am rambling here, but I don’t give a rat’s ass about Jefferson spinning in his grave, which won’t happen. Let’s try to understand human rights and good governance by applying the best thinking today instead of imagining that the best thinking occurred centuries ago and cannot be improved. (Caveat: of course, the people most likely to change it will make it worse.)

  45. dma8751482 says


    When it comes to the modern state and its powers to collect taxes, I think the Founders would be torn on that. After all, it is one of the factors which originally led to the rift between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, and while my recall of the specifics is fuzzy at best it remained a point of contention between Jefferson and John Adams for quite some time.

    Speaking of which, it is also worth noting that it was Adams who passed the Alien and Sedition Acts that paved the way for current views on immigration while censoring newspapers to a degree that has yet to be matched, at least in terms of its overtness and willingness to persecute criticism of the government. Remember the Japanese internment camps? It was those acts which allowed the executive order to establish then to go through- they were denounced by the Democratic-Republicans in their time, but since the Supreme Court’s right of judicial review wasn’t established yet they were never actually found unconstitutional. In fact, it’s still on the books today in a revised form as part of the war and national defense statutes. All I can say is “good luck trying to get it overturned now”- if they didn’t consider the question in the case of the unlawful internment of a white man (Ludecke v. Watkins. 1948), what chance is there of overturning it now when its victims have that much less influence to even get their case to the Supreme Court?

  46. dma8751482 says


    And that’s a relatively new one which hasn’t even been challenged by SCOTUS even once.

    P.S. you seem to have double posted by accident.