Oct 09 2011

Tom McClintock telling it like it is

RealClearPolitics

Note: Congressman Tom McClintock delivered the following speech to the Council for National Policy: 

I want to welcome this groundbreaking scientific expedition to the savage lands of the Left Coast. You are here in California to answer an important theoretical question and now you have your answer.

Yes, this is what Barack Obama’s second term would look like.

Study it. Fear it. And then go home and make sure that it never happens to the rest of the country.

Of course, in spite of all of its problems, California is still one of the best places in the country to build a successful small business. All you have to do is start with a successful large business.

Laugh if you will, but as you whistle past this cemetery, do heed the medieval epitaph: “Remember man as you walk by, as you are now so once was I; as I am now so you will be.”

Mark that well, because if we lose this struggle for the future of our country, you too someday will live in a California – only without the nice climate.

Bad policies. Bad process. Bad politics. Those are the three acts in a Greek tragedy that tell the tale of how, in the span of a single generation, the most prosperous and golden state in the nation became an economic basket case.

When my parents came to California in the 1960’s looking for a better future, they found it here. The state government consumed about half of what it does today after adjusting for both inflation and population. HALF. We had the finest highway system in the world and the finest public school system in the country. California offered a FREE university education to every Californian who wanted one. We produced water and electricity so cheaply that some communities didn’t bother to meter the stuff. Our unemployment rate consistently ran well below the national rate and our diversified economy was nearly recession-proof.

One thing – and one thing only – changed in those years: public policy. The political Left gradually gained dominance over California’s government and has imposed a disastrous agenda of radical and retrograde policies that have destroyed the quality of life that Californians once took for granted.

The Census bureau has reported for the better part of the decade that California is undergoing the biggest population exodus in its history, with many fleeing to such garden spots as Nevada, Arizona and Texas. Think about that. California is blessed with the most equitable climate in the entire Western Hemisphere; it has the most bountiful resources anywhere in the continental United States; it is poised on the Pacific Rim in a position to dominate world trade for the next century, and yet people are finding a better place to live and work and raise their families in the middle of the Nevada Nuclear Test Range.

I submit to you that no conceivable act of God could wreak such devastation. Only acts of government can do that. And they have.

We conservatives espouse principles of individual liberty, free markets, constitutionally limited government, fiscal responsibility, the protection of natural rights – not out of some slavish devotion to ideology, but because all human experience has shown these principles to be the most certain means to achieve a prosperous and happy society. If you want to see the opposite of that – come to California.

James Madison said the trickiest question the Constitutional convention confronted was how to oblige a government to control itself. History records not a single example of a nation that spent, borrowed and taxed its way to prosperity; but it offers us many, many examples of nations that spent and borrowed and taxed their way to economic ruin and bankruptcy. And history is screaming this warning at us: that nations that bankrupt themselves aren’t around very long, because before you can provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty – you have to be able to pay for it.

California may not have invented deficit spending but we certainly refined it into a science. Before the crash of 2008, when California was taking in more money than ever in its history, it was already running a nine billion dollar deficit, under a Republican governor elected on the pledge to “cut up the credit cards.”

Federal spending increased 26 percent in the last three years literally consuming and squandering the wealth of the nation at the worst possible time. Yet consider this: from July of 2005 to July of 2008, California increased its spending by 31 percent, under a Republican governor elected on the pledge to “stop the crazy deficit spending”. You can see how well that’s worked for us.

If stimulus spending, massive deficits and burgeoning government bureaucracies were the path to economic prosperity, California should be leading the nation from the top rather than from the bottom. After we lost the nation’s triple-A credit rating this summer specifically because of chronic deficit spending, it should surprise no one that California suffers the lowest bond rating in the nation for precisely the same reason.

 


Our regulatory burdens are also years ahead of the rest of the nation – we’ve had our own version of Cap and Trade on the books for five years now, and even though the bulk of these restrictions yet to take effect, investors make decisions every day anticipating their impact.

 

This has already proven utterly devastating to energy generation, cargo and passenger transportation, cement production, construction, wine making, agriculture and manufacturing. When he signed this legislation, Gov. Schwarzenegger promised that this would produce a cornucopia of new green jobs.

How’s that working out? Up until the autumn of 2006, California’s unemployment rate tracked fairly steadily with the national unemployment numbers. But beginning in that quarter, California’s unemployment rate moved steadily beyond the national numbers. Today it stands at 12.1 percent – three full points above the national rate. You can’t blame the national economy for that – you have to find something specific to California that occurred in the autumn of 2006 to explain this divergence. I submit that the only significant event in that period was the signing of AB 32.

And I should note that although we’ve devastated California’s once recession-proof economy with these ridiculous regulations, the Earth stubbornly continues to warm and cool as it has for billions of years.

I mentioned water and electricity so cheap that some communities didn’t meter the stuff. There’s a reason for that: California had embarked on an aggressive program of hydroelectric and nuclear power construction that promised an era of clean, cheap and abundant electricity. But beginning with the first “small is beautiful” administration of Jerry Brown, these programs were abandoned in favor of “green energy.” We now have the most stringent renewable energy requirements in the nation.

Which helps explain why California is the home to such stunning green energy success stories as Solyndra. We have among the highest electricity prices in the continental United States. We have the lowest per-capita electricity consumption in the nation as well. And every day, our government spends part of our sky-high electricity bills to lecture us to conserve more.

We completed our last major dam in 1979. Last year, environmentalists diverted 200 billion gallons of water from central valley agriculture for the enjoyment and amusement of the Delta Smelt – a three-inch long minnow that has become the environmental left’s pet cause. This single action destroyed thousands of jobs and laid waste to a half million acres of the most fertile farmland in America. It is no coincidence that four of the ten metropolitan areas suffering the highest unemployment rate in the country are all in California’s Central Valley.

Meanwhile, up north on the Klamath River, California has found a new partnership with the Obama administration as they proceed to tear down four perfectly good hydroelectric dams capable of producing 155 megawatts of the cleanest and cheapest electricity on the planet — enough to power 155,000 homes. This is due, we are told, to the decline of the salmon population. The Iron Gate Fish Hatchery on the Klamath produces 5 million salmon smolts each year – 17,000 of which return as fully-grown adults to spawn – but they don’t include them in the population count. To add insult to insanity, when the Iron Gate Dam is destroyed, we will lose the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery.

We have the most aggressive mass transit program in the country – although we have not added significant capacity to our highway system in a generation. Californians consistently pay among the highest taxes per gallon of gasoline in the country and yet make among the lowest per capita expenditures on our roads. And what a surprise: we also have among the highest congestion rates in the country.

We have the largest population of illegal aliens in the country, consuming somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion in direct state expenditures. A few years ago, the Los Angeles County Sheriff reported that fully 25 percent of the jail inmates were illegal aliens. For years, California has provided in-state tuition for illegal aliens at the expense of California taxpayers – and with the signing of the California Dream Act four days ago, they will also have access to taxpayer-financed grants. Meanwhile, CSU has increased tuition 22 percent in just two years.

I’ve noticed a few of you on your cell phones no doubt checking to be sure that your return reservations are confirmed.

But I need to remind you that the Obama administration is pursuing exactly the same policies nationally – and so far with the same results. When you step off the plane back in your home state, just remember that all your plane trip will buy you is a couple of years if we lose the fight in 2012.

The second act of this morality tale is how bad process accommodated and amplified bad policy.

The Left loves to throw the term “dysfunctional” at our governing institutions. In the last week, the Democratic governor of North Carolina seriously opined that we ought to postpone congressional elections so that congressmen would “do the right thing.” Peter Orzag this week wrote of wanting to shift even more decision-making from our elected representatives to elitist boards appointed by our betters.

We have reached this point not because of a failure of our republican institutions, but because of a failure to respect those institutions.

 


Again, California is a pioneer, but the rest of the country is fast catching up. In the 1960’s, California’s legislature was respected throughout the country as the model for others to follow. It was professional, it respected process, and it worked. It did a few things, but it did them exceedingly well. It left local schools, local governments and local revenues in local hands. But beginning in the 1970’s this began to break down.

 

The humility that kept Sacramento from sticking its nose into the business of local governments gave way to the hubris that the state knew better what was important to local communities than those communities themselves. The appalling breakdown of federalist principles at the national level now geometrically compounds this problem.

But at the core of this breakdown was the abandonment of our basic republican structure of government – and it began right here.

Our parliamentary institutions have evolved over centuries to distill diverse viewpoints to a common direction within constitutional boundaries. When this process is applied, it works extremely well.

For a quarter of a century, I watched as these brilliant checks and balances that had produced reasonably punctual and reasonably balanced budgets for over a century, and nurtured the most prosperous economy in the nation, were gradually abandoned in the name of liberal efficiency.

Slowly, inexorably, decision-making that had been done broadly and independently by the two houses of the legislature — involving the active participation of every elected representative — was usurped by an extra-constitutional abomination called the “Big Five.”

See if any of this sounds familiar: The “Big Five” is essentially a super-committee that meets behind closed doors outside the scrutiny of the public, sidelining the legislature, short-circuiting the independent judgment of the two houses, and then in the eleventh hour drops its decision into the laps of the legislature for a take-it–or-leave it vote that cannot even be amended.

I know I don’t have to connect the dots for anybody here. Ladies and gentlemen, it does not work. California’s plague of chronically late and chronically unbalanced budgets coincides quite clearly with the disintegration of the legislative process and the replacement of parliamentary institutions with handpicked super-committees.

Which brings me to the third act of this Greek Tragedy – bad politics.

Last November, while the rest of the country was celebrating historic Republican gains (including a shift of 63 U.S. House Seats, six U.S. Senate Seats, 680 state legislative seats, 19 state legislatures and six governors), the statewide Republican ticket in California – despite massively outspending the Democrats in the best Republican year since 1938 – lost every statewide race and even lost ground in the state legislature.

Republicans nationally now hold more state legislative seats than in any year since 1928. In California, they hold fewer than at any time since 1978!

That is not because the voting population of California has lost its collective mind and it is not because the state is divinely ordained to be run by morons.

It happened because Dick Armey is right: “When we act like us we win, and when we act like them we lose.”

Republicans lost the 2006 and 2008 elections not because voters abandoned Republican principles, but because they looked at the Republicans and concluded that the Republicans had abandoned Republican principles.

During the Bush years, Republicans had increased federal spending at twice the rate of Bill Clinton; they left our borders wide open; they approved the biggest increase in entitlement spending since the Great Society and that turned record budget surpluses into record deficits to launch this brave new era of stimulus spending.

I last visited with the CNP in Washington in May of 2009. What a depressing meeting that was! Obama enjoyed 66 percent public approval. The week before, a conference of self-appointed Republican leaders had concluded that “we had to put the Reagan era behind us” and we had to be “mindful and respectful that the other side has something and that we have nothing and you can’t beat something with nothing.” (I won’t mention names, but his initials were Jeb Bush.)

Thank God House Republicans didn’t take that approach.

In the aftermath of that debacle, House Republican leaders resolved to restore traditional Republican principles as the policy and political focus of the party and they achieved something no one at the time thought possible: they united House Republicans as a determined voice of opposition to the Left and they rallied the American people.

Republicans rediscovered why we were Republicans, and Republican leaders rediscovered Reagan’s advice to paint our positions in bold colors and not hide them in pale pastels.

The result was one of the most dramatic watershed elections in American history.

California Republicans did exactly the opposite, and ended up replaying the disaster of 2008 while the rest of the country was enjoying one of the greatest Republican landslides ever recorded.

In California, the Democrats attacked Republicans for imposing the biggest state tax increase in American history. The Democrats attacked Republicans for obstructing pension reform to protect the prison guards union. These attacks had the unfortunate element of being true.

Meanwhile, the Republican ticket attacked Arizona’s immigration law. Republicans attacked the Proposition that would have stopped AB 32 – California’s version of Cap and Trade.

The sad truth is that we were more like the Democrats than the Democrats.

A few days after the election, a Republican leader whose mission in life has been to redefine the Republican Party in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger said he just couldn’t explain the results.

I can. We didn’t need to redefine our principles. We needed to return to them. House Republicans did. California Republicans did not. Any questions?

Great parties are built upon great principles and they are judged by their devotion to those principles. Since its inception, the central principle of the Republican Party can be summed up in a single word, Freedom.

The closer we have hewn to that principle, the better we have done. The farther we have strayed from that principle, the worse we have done.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln warned the nation that two incompatible and irreconcilable philosophies, freedom and slavery, competed for our future and reminded us that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” “I do not believe the house will fall,” he said, “but I do believe that it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Today two incompatible and irreconcilable philosophies — freedom and socialism — compete for our nation’s future and the stage is set for one of the greatest debates in the history of the American Republic.

We are winning that debate. But we have to stand firm.

What has happened to California and now is threatening our country is the inevitable consequence of bad policy, bad process and bad politics – and the good news is, that’s all within our power as a people to change.

I believe that if Californians rediscover these self-evident truths, Jerry Brown will be to California what Barack Obama has been to the rest of the country – a giant wake-up call. And if Americans rally behind these truths, together, we will write the next great chapter of the American Republic: that just when it looked like America would fade into history as just another failed socialist state, this generation of Americans rediscovered, revived and restored those uniquely American principles of individual liberty and constitutionally limited government, rallied under a bold banner held high by the traditional party of freedom, and from that moment America began her next great era of expansion, prosperity and influence. 

Tom McClintock is the U.S. Representative for California’s 4th congressional district.


Aug 28 2010

Thomas Sowell on Dismantling America Part Four

Category: freedom,government,USAharmonicminer @ 8:56 am

The previous post in this series is here.

Thomas Sowell has been writing a multipart series based on his book titled “Dismantling America.” I consider it to be required reading for anyone wanting to understand what’s been happening in and with our government, not just lately, but for several decades. To make it easy for you to read and follow, I’m spreading the links over several posts, including an article and a video in each.

Here is the fourth article.

And the accompanying video:


Aug 27 2010

Thomas Sowell on Dismantling America Part Three

Category: freedom,government,USAharmonicminer @ 8:56 am

The previous post in this series is here.

Thomas Sowell has been writing a multipart series based on his book titled “Dismantling America.” I consider it to be required reading for anyone wanting to understand what’s been happening in and with our government, not just lately, but for several decades. To make it easy for you to read and follow, I’m spreading the links over several posts, including an article and a video in each.

Here is the third article.

And the accompanying video:


Aug 26 2010

Thomas Sowell on Dismantling America Part Two

Category: freedom,government,USAharmonicminer @ 8:56 am

The previous post in this series is here.

Thomas Sowell has been writing a multipart series based on his book titled “Dismantling America.” I consider it to be required reading for anyone wanting to understand what’s been happening in and with our government, not just lately, but for several decades. To make it easy for you to read and follow, I’m spreading the links over several posts, including an article and a video in each.

Here is the second article.

And the accompanying video:


Aug 25 2010

Thomas Sowell on Dismantling America Part One

Category: freedom,government,USAharmonicminer @ 8:56 am

Thomas Sowell has been writing a multipart series based on his book titled “Dismantling America.” I consider it to be required reading for anyone wanting to understand what’s been happening in and with our government, not just lately, but for several decades. To make it easy for you to read and follow, I’m spreading the links over several posts, including an article and a video in each.

Here is the first article

And the accompanying video:


Aug 18 2010

See you at the movies


I hope this one is a big hit at the box office, but it’s a cinch it won’t win any Oscars.  Hollywood has no problem with raising prices to see a movie, or with raising the price to give someone a job, or even with raising the price to have a job.  Of course, Hollywood permanently inhabits never-never-land, so a movie that just tells the simple truth is bound to be horrifying to them.

Looks like it ought to be a winner.


Aug 13 2010

Marine boot camp graduation in San Diego today

Category: liberty,military,national security,USAharmonicminer @ 4:56 pm

Today I watched the graduation from Marine boot camp of my son’s closest friend, at MCRD in San Diego.  I’ve known the new Marine since he was 11 or so.  He looked really, really thin.  No surprise there, of course.  The nature of boot camp is that the drill instructors see to it that the recruits are always moving, rarely resting, and given little time to overeat.   They learn to eat really, really fast.

What is remarkable about anyone who enlisted after the events of Sept 11, 2001 is that all of these enlistees know that they are probably going to war, and they have chosen to do so voluntarily, out of patriotism and the desire to serve their nation.  There are no draftees in the US military, and the great majority of those now serving enlisted after 9/11.

The Marines of Company A, who graduated today, formed an impressive looking group.  To quote the Secretary of Defense, who spoke to them in person today (probably the closest I’ll ever come to a cabinet member), these Marines are “the tip of the spear.”  They go in first, into the toughest situations, and then they do it again next week.  And in this world, often the week after that.

An officer who spoke mentioned a recent group of over 100 Marines who were due to cycle out of the Corps, having honorably served their terms of duty, whose Company was scheduled next to serve in Okinawa.  At the last moment, when that Company was unexpectedly ordered to Afghanistan, these Marines re-enlisted to stay with their Company in this challenging assignment.  This is not uncommon Marine behavior, I’m told.

These young men who graduated today deserve our thanks, and our admiration.  They deserve any support we can give them.  Without men such as these, down through time, we would not have a nation.

My son’s friend had other options.  He is a bright young man (he tested VERY high on his ASVABs), and could certainly have gone to college.  Academically, he is college material.  In fact, I tried to talk him into taking the ROTC route through college and into a military career.  But he wanted to do it this way, and I can’t fault his decision.

Heartfelt congratulations to Private Justin Howell, USMC.


Jul 07 2010

The invasion

Category: freedom,Group-think,Islam,liberty,sharia,terrorism,USAharmonicminer @ 8:29 am

Here is the opening part of an article titled “Tower of Terrorism at Ground Zero” at the Muslims Against Sharia Blog

America is defined by the last phrase of its national anthem: The land of the free and the home of the brave. Freedom, in all its forms, is its greatest legacy, which the nation has bravely fought many wars on many fronts to preserve against the unceasing assaults of totalitarianism of all stripes. Time and again, the heroes of the nation bravely sacrificed their lives to protect freedom and liberty.

Currently, America is faced with the insidious, multifaceted, and most deadly threat of Islamism. Since Islam has been around for centuries, there is a tendency to ignore or even deny the threat it poses to humanity. Various concessions are made, some of them as good faith offerings and some in the hope of placating the Islamists. Yet, concessions to threats are appeasements. And appeasements have never solved any problems. They only whet the appetite of the aggressor, give it more power, and make it even more dangerous.

Very unfortunately, in today’s world, Islamists [including political Islam] are set as Islam’s locomotive that takes the Islamic train on its demolition course. Instead of promoting peace, many of the so-called leaders of the ‘Muslim Ummah’ are engaged in fuelling Jihad and killing innocent people in the name of religion. And sadly, such elements are gradually growing influence everywhere in the world as well brainwashing some of the naïve global leaders like Barack Hussain Obama, who continues to appease Islamists without sensing the degree of threat it poses to his very own country.

Islam and democracy are incompatible. As democracies practice their magnificent accommodating belief, they knowingly or unknowingly lay the track for the advancing train wrecking that is Islam. Radical Islamism threatens to set a new record for brutality, contrary to the contention that there is no reason to worry about it. Jihadist Wahabism’s tentacles are reaching out from its cradle in Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf Arab Emirates. The Petrodollar flush Sunni-Shia zealots are liberally financing mosques, Madrassas [Islamic indoctrination schools], Islamic centers at universities, front organizations and lobbyists to promote the Wahhabi or Shiite virulent Islamism in every part of America. That makes America the Vulnerable.

Activities of Tablighi Jamaat is gradually increasing in United States, and according to recent statistics disclosed during last year’s largest Tablighi congregations in Bangladesh, more than four hundred Tablighi groups are actively working in various so-called community mosques or in disguise mostly targeting young Americans with the goal of converting them initially to Islam and later giving them Jihadist provocations.

So begins a rather lengthy and detailed article on the various ways that radical Islamists are pursuing their agendas in the USA.

Ask yourself this simple question: is the mosque at Ground Zero being paid for with money from America’s Muslims?

Not likely.

Do you think “moderate Muslims” are paying for it?  (Here is one who probably is not.)  Is it being paid for with money from the same people and nations who fund worldwide radical Islamism?

What do you think?  And do you think they would spend their money if they didn’t expect it to produce a result in the USA?  What do you think is the result they intend?


Jul 04 2010

The Americans Who Risked Everything

Category: character,freedom,liberty,USAamuzikman @ 10:06 pm

With thanks to Rush Limbaugh for sharing these great words penned by his father.    May we never forget.  It is worth taking the time to read this as we celebrate our independence and remember the price that was paid by so many.

My father, Rush H. Limbaugh, Jr., delivered this oft-requested address locally a number of times, but it had never before appeared in print until it appeared in The Limbaugh Letter. My dad was renowned for his oratory skills and for his original mind; this speech is, I think, a superb demonstration of both. I will always be grateful to him for instilling in me a passion for the ideas and lives of America’s Founders, as well as a deep appreciation for the inspirational power of words which you will see evidenced here:

Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor

It was a glorious morning. The sun was shining and the wind was from the southeast. Up especially early, a tall bony, redheaded young Virginian found time to buy a new thermometer, for which he paid three pounds, fifteen shillings. He also bought gloves for Martha, his wife, who was ill at home.

Thomas Jefferson arrived early at the statehouse. The temperature was 72.5 degrees and the horseflies weren’t nearly so bad at that hour. It was a lovely room, very large, with gleaming white walls. The chairs were comfortable. Facing the single door were two brass fireplaces, but they would not be used today.

The moment the door was shut, and it was always kept locked, the room became an oven. The tall windows were shut, so that loud quarreling voices could not be heard by passersby. Small openings atop the windows allowed a slight stir of air, and also a large number of horseflies. Jefferson records that “the horseflies were dexterous in finding necks, and the silk of stockings was nothing to them.” All discussing was punctuated by the slap of hands on necks.

On the wall at the back, facing the president’s desk, was a panoply — consisting of a drum, swords, and banners seized from Fort Ticonderoga the previous year. Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold had captured the place, shouting that they were taking it “in the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!”

Now Congress got to work, promptly taking up an emergency measure about which there was discussion but no dissension. “Resolved: That an application be made to the Committee of Safety of Pennsylvania for a supply of flints for the troops at New York.”

Then Congress transformed itself into a committee of the whole. The Declaration of Independence was read aloud once more, and debate resumed. Though Jefferson was the best writer of all of them, he had been somewhat verbose. Congress hacked the excess away. They did a good job, as a side-by-side comparison of the rough draft and the final text shows. They cut the phrase “by a self-assumed power.” “Climb” was replaced by “must read,” then “must” was eliminated, then the whole sentence, and soon the whole paragraph was cut. Jefferson groaned as they continued what he later called “their depredations.” “Inherent and inalienable rights” came out “certain unalienable rights,” and to this day no one knows who suggested the elegant change.

A total of 86 alterations were made. Almost 500 words were eliminated, leaving 1,337. At last, after three days of wrangling, the document was put to a vote.

Here in this hall Patrick Henry had once thundered: “I am no longer a Virginian, sir, but an American.” But today the loud, sometimes bitter argument stilled, and without fanfare the vote was taken from north to south by colonies, as was the custom. On July 4, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

There were no trumpets blown. No one stood on his chair and cheered. The afternoon was waning and Congress had no thought of delaying the full calendar of routine business on its hands. For several hours they worked on many other problems before adjourning for the day.

What kind of men were the 56 signers who adopted the Declaration of Independence and who, by their signing, committed an act of treason against the crown? To each of you, the names Franklin, Adams, Hancock and Jefferson are almost as familiar as household words. Most of us, however, know nothing of the other signers. Who were they? What happened to them?

I imagine that many of you are somewhat surprised at the names not there: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry. All were elsewhere.

Ben Franklin was the only really old man. Eighteen were under 40; three were in their 20s. Of the 56 almost half – 24 – were judges and lawyers. Eleven were merchants, nine were landowners and farmers, and the remaining 12 were doctors, ministers, and politicians.

With only a few exceptions, such as Samuel Adams of Massachusetts, these were men of substantial property. All but two had families. The vast majority were men of education and standing in their communities. They had economic security as few men had in the 18th Century.

Each had more to lose from revolution than he had to gain by it. John Hancock, one of the richest men in America, already had a price of 500 pounds on his head. He signed in enormous letters so that his Majesty could now read his name without glasses and could now double the reward. Ben Franklin wryly noted: “Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately.”

Fat Benjamin Harrison of Virginia told tiny Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts: “With me it will all be over in a minute, but you, you will be dancing on air an hour after I am gone.”

These men knew what they risked. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. And remember, a great British fleet was already at anchor in New York Harbor.

They were sober men. There were no dreamy-eyed intellectuals or draft card burners here. They were far from hot-eyed fanatics yammering for an explosion. They simply asked for the status quo. It was change they resisted. It was equality with the mother country they desired. It was taxation with representation they sought. They were all conservatives, yet they rebelled.

It was principle, not property, that had brought these men to Philadelphia. Two of them became presidents of the United States. Seven of them became state governors. One died in office as vice president of the United States. Several would go on to be U.S. Senators. One, the richest man in America, in 1828 founded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. One, a delegate from Philadelphia, was the only real poet, musician and philosopher of the signers. (It was he, Francis Hopkinson not Betsy Ross who designed the United States flag.)

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia, had introduced the resolution to adopt the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. He was prophetic in his concluding remarks: “Why then sir, why do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise not to devastate and to conquer but to reestablish the reign of peace and law.

“The eyes of Europe are fixed upon us. She demands of us a living example of freedom that may exhibit a contrast in the felicity of the citizen to the ever-increasing tyranny which desolates her polluted shores. She invites us to prepare an asylum where the unhappy may find solace, and the persecuted repost.

“If we are not this day wanting in our duty, the names of the American Legislatures of 1776 will be placed by posterity at the side of all of those whose memory has been and ever will be dear to virtuous men and good citizens.”

Though the resolution was formally adopted July 4, it was not until July 8 that two of the states authorized their delegates to sign, and it was not until August 2 that the signers met at Philadelphia to actually put their names to the Declaration.

William Ellery, delegate from Rhode Island, was curious to see the signers’ faces as they committed this supreme act of personal courage. He saw some men sign quickly, “but in no face was he able to discern real fear.” Stephan Hopkins, Ellery’s colleague from Rhode Island, was a man past 60. As he signed with a shaking pen, he declared: “My hand trembles, but my heart does not.”

Even before the list was published, the British marked down every member of Congress suspected of having put his name to treason. All of them became the objects of vicious manhunts. Some were taken. Some, like Jefferson, had narrow escapes. All who had property or families near British strongholds suffered.

Francis Lewis, New York delegate saw his home plundered — and his estates in what is now Harlem — completely destroyed by British Soldiers. Mrs. Lewis was captured and treated with great brutality. Though she was later exchanged for two British prisoners through the efforts of Congress, she died from the effects of her abuse.

William Floyd, another New York delegate, was able to escape with his wife and children across Long Island Sound to Connecticut, where they lived as refugees without income for seven years. When they came home they found a devastated ruin.

Philips Livingstone had all his great holdings in New York confiscated and his family driven out of their home. Livingstone died in 1778 still working in Congress for the cause.

Louis Morris, the fourth New York delegate, saw all his timber, crops, and livestock taken. For seven years he was barred from his home and family.

John Hart of Trenton, New Jersey, risked his life to return home to see his dying wife. Hessian soldiers rode after him, and he escaped in the woods. While his wife lay on her deathbed, the soldiers ruined his farm and wrecked his homestead. Hart, 65, slept in caves and woods as he was hunted across the countryside. When at long last, emaciated by hardship, he was able to sneak home, he found his wife had already been buried, and his 13 children taken away. He never saw them again. He died a broken man in 1779, without ever finding his family.

Dr. John Witherspoon, signer, was president of the College of New Jersey, later called Princeton. The British occupied the town of Princeton, and billeted troops in the college. They trampled and burned the finest college library in the country.

Judge Richard Stockton, another New Jersey delegate signer, had rushed back to his estate in an effort to evacuate his wife and children. The family found refuge with friends, but a Tory sympathizer betrayed them. Judge Stockton was pulled from bed in the night and brutally beaten by the arresting soldiers. Thrown into a common jail, he was deliberately starved. Congress finally arranged for Stockton’s parole, but his health was ruined. The judge was released as an invalid, when he could no longer harm the British cause. He returned home to find his estate looted and did not live to see the triumph of the Revolution. His family was forced to live off charity.

Robert Morris, merchant prince of Philadelphia, delegate and signer, met Washington’s appeals and pleas for money year after year. He made and raised arms and provisions which made it possible for Washington to cross the Delaware at Trenton. In the process he lost 150 ships at sea, bleeding his own fortune and credit almost dry.

George Clymer, Pennsylvania signer, escaped with his family from their home, but their property was completely destroyed by the British in the Germantown and Brandywine campaigns.

Dr. Benjamin Rush, also from Pennsylvania, was forced to flee to Maryland. As a heroic surgeon with the army, Rush had several narrow escapes.

John Martin, a Tory in his views previous to the debate, lived in a strongly loyalist area of Pennsylvania. When he came out for independence, most of his neighbors and even some of his relatives ostracized him. He was a sensitive and troubled man, and many believed this action killed him. When he died in 1777, his last words to his tormentors were: “Tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it [the signing] to have been the most glorious service that I have ever rendered to my country.”

William Ellery, Rhode Island delegate, saw his property and home burned to the ground.

Thomas Lynch, Jr., South Carolina delegate, had his health broken from privation and exposures while serving as a company commander in the military. His doctors ordered him to seek a cure in the West Indies and on the voyage, he and his young bride were drowned at sea.

Edward Rutledge, Arthur Middleton, and Thomas Heyward, Jr., the other three South Carolina signers, were taken by the British in the siege of Charleston. They were carried as prisoners of war to St. Augustine, Florida, where they were singled out for indignities. They were exchanged at the end of the war, the British in the meantime having completely devastated their large landholdings and estates.

Thomas Nelson, signer of Virginia, was at the front in command of the Virginia military forces. With British General Charles Cornwallis in Yorktown, fire from 70 heavy American guns began to destroy Yorktown piece by piece. Lord Cornwallis and his staff moved their headquarters into Nelson’s palatial home. While American cannonballs were making a shambles of the town, the house of Governor Nelson remained untouched. Nelson turned in rage to the American gunners and asked, “Why do you spare my home?” They replied, “Sir, out of respect to you.” Nelson cried, “Give me the cannon!” and fired on his magnificent home himself, smashing it to bits. But Nelson’s sacrifice was not quite over. He had raised $2 million for the Revolutionary cause by pledging his own estates. When the loans came due, a newer peacetime Congress refused to honor them, and Nelson’s property was forfeited. He was never reimbursed. He died, impoverished, a few years later at the age of 50.

Of those 56 who signed the Declaration of Independence, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war. Five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. Two wives were brutally treated. All were at one time or another the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word. Their honor, and the nation they sacrificed so much to create is still intact.

And, finally, there is the New Jersey signer, Abraham Clark.

He gave two sons to the officer corps in the Revolutionary Army. They were captured and sent to that infamous British prison hulk afloat in New York Harbor known as the hell ship Jersey, where 11,000 American captives were to die. The younger Clarks were treated with a special brutality because of their father. One was put in solitary and given no food. With the end almost in sight, with the war almost won, no one could have blamed Abraham Clark for acceding to the British request when they offered him his sons’ lives if he would recant and come out for the King and Parliament. The utter despair in this man’s heart, the anguish in his very soul, must reach out to each one of us down through 200 years with his answer: “No.”

The 56 signers of the Declaration Of Independence proved by their every deed that they made no idle boast when they composed the most magnificent curtain line in history. “And for the support of this Declaration with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

My friends, I know you have a copy of the Declaration of Independence somewhere around the house – in an old history book (newer ones may well omit it), an encyclopedia, or one of those artificially aged “parchments” we all got in school years ago. I suggest that each of you take the time this month to read through the text of the Declaration, one of the most noble and beautiful political documents in human history.

There is no more profound sentence than this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…”

These are far more than mere poetic words. The underlying ideas that infuse every sentence of this treatise have sustained this nation for more than two centuries. They were forged in the crucible of great sacrifice. They are living words that spring from and satisfy the deepest cries for liberty in the human spirit.

“Sacred honor” isn’t a phrase we use much these days, but every American life is touched by the bounty of this, the Founders’ legacy. It is freedom, tested by blood, and watered with tears.

Rush Limbaugh III


Jun 15 2010

The USA’s intrinsic values… sometimes caught, but rarely taught anymore

Tags:


Next Page »