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Thursday, November 4, 2010

From Amateurs To Pros ...

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We are where we are, but not so sure where that is ... nor how to get where we want to be, should this not be it. ... may seem familiar as that's how I've started several similar pieces over the years, the first back early in 2006. We interrupt this program ...
2010 Election Results
Based on initial reports, the Republican Party made significant gains across the board, expecting to hold the Executive power in at least 30 states. At the national level, they appear to have won 23 0f the 34 Senate seats being contested ... while obtaining control of the House 239 - 185.
Thus, we applaud the outcome for nonpolitical reasons ... our all powerful political party system totally undermines the intended "Checks and Balances" underpinning our Constitution, so that when both legislative houses and the executive power are under the control of the same party, the intended safeguards against abuse are effectively nonexistent.
Oklahoma Ballot Questions Pass!
It is noteworthy that Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed three ballot questions - one makes English the state's "common and unifying language," a second requires voters to have government-issued photo IDs, and a third prohibits state courts from considering international or Islamic law when deciding cases.
I agree the with first, as would Teddy Roosevelt ...problem is, most folks can't speak English ... only American; poorly. The second should be the law of the land! However, I believe that jurisprudence would be best served if circumstances were allowed to dictate evidence admissibility, not the people ... provided they have the right to hold the presiding jurists duly accountable. Them's just my views ... what say ye?
For new visitors and them what may have been asleep at the switch or just plain forgot ... we started out as "The Old Barbershop" back in April of 2008 after sja had bought the place and hired me on as helper. A series of snafus forced the change from "The Old" to "Ye Olde" ... but it's still the same barbershop!
Turned out it had first opened back in 410 BC, by the founder of the Democratic Party ... barber named Democritus. Socrates later acquired it, took Plato on as a helper, who later turned it into a Barbering School, known far and wide as Plato's Place.
While cleaning up the Shop, we stumbled upon an old ... ancient sign in Greek that Plato hung up in the shop, back when it first opened, methinks ... translated, the sign reads "Let no unfair or unjust person enter" ... and we've adopted that as our own.
The Shop's current focus is what was first envisioned for our "Nonpolitical Politics" Special Feature ... but limited resources and my Miss Carol's illness caused a detour on the way to the Forum. History and Politics were her passionate loves ... mine too, as result of osmosis. She was truly expert in both areas, her dual undergraduate majors ... unfortunately, osmosis left the building with her, leaving me with but passion and uninformed opinions.
The original foundation piece for "NonPoliticial Politics" too, has left the building ... this is its intended replacement.
The game's afoot ...
Politics challenges prostitution for longevity ... and will always be with us. That's not all bad, for we can't all be of the same mind, and it takes compromise to deal with the many issues which we're continuously facing.
Not long ago, just a little over 200 years, our country was born and with it came a novel idea ... a democratic republican form of government, if you'll pardon the expression.
Perhaps democracies can work well in very small communities where the people have similar, vested interests and the time to be actively involved in deciding the issues confronting them ... but they fail miserably in larger or complex communities.

Nothing really new about that ... but, Delaware having an equal voice with New York ... that's something else again!

I don't know how it happened that we were so fortunate as to have such a fantastic group of folks as what brought our country into existence and formulated our government ... passionate patriots, virtuous ... devout, thoughtful and dedicated in their benevolence. It's a long list, so too is that of those who have built upon their efforts.

No reason to really dot those eyes or cross those tees but if we are to assess where we are, we should give some thought as to from whence we started and how we got here, methinks. I think the foundation upon which everything was built was the notion behind our state legislatures and ultimately our House of Representatives ... having our own representative from back home ... one of us ... one we know and trust ... one we have selected for their integrity and judgment, and upon whom we can rely to do what is in our best interests. Our job is to select them and hold them directly accountable ... we have neither the time nor the resources to keep up with all that's going on ... that's their job!

That's the notion, and it extended beyond that ... we used it in other forms ... perhaps most noteworthy being the election of delegations sent to the national political conventions to select those who would lead their respective parties in the national elections and decide upon the party's political platform.

That gradually changed over the years and in recent times, the selection of candidates has become a well orchestrated series of scheduled media events ... popularity contests controlled by special interest groups ... most notably, the Media, Party power brokers and the offices of the would be candidates. They would have us believe that we're more directly involved in the process ... have a more powerful voice.

Nothing could be further from the truth ... the system is as totally flawed as it is controlled ... we no longer have an effective voice. Even were that not the case, it violates many of the principles upon which we were founded ... something of which they're well aware ... but they do it, because they can, and because it serves their purposes.

Certainly the playing field is not level ... not when you consider that the candidates for whom we're given the opportunity to vote generally depends upon our state's positioning in the "Schedule of Media Events" ... that as they proceed through the schedule, we are directly influenced by the results of previous events, and in some cases, the final outcome is determined before some events are held.

They are mass marketing masters, playing upon our egos ... we're not being asked to select one of our own ... one we know well and trust for their integrity and judgment, and upon whom we can rely to do what is in our best interests. They want us to select one from a group of outsiders that of which we know little or nothing, 'cept what they, themselves, want us to know.

I place stock in Daddy's caution, first heard over 65 years ago ... "You can't tell much of anything about a man from his memorized spiel and how well it's delivered" ... and that especially applies to them what would be king, including the spiels of those in his Court.

I support both Democrats and Republicans ... just strongly oppose the all powerful Political Party Unions to which they pay homage, but until we can eliminate or neutralize them, I would hope that we would strive to have the system changed so that our role would be one of selecting delegates to the convention, trusting them to represent us well, rather than to continue with the current process.

I believe that the most often overlooked, always underrated, element in our system of intended checks and balances is the people ... if we will but actively participate and elect virtuous folks at the local level; folks we well know and respect ... for their integrity, prudence, frugality, benevolence, and wisdom ... then the political food chain would soon be filled with virtuous folks. We could then safely rely upon our representatives to the rest, save one responsibility ... we must hold our elected representative directly and strictly accountable for their performance.

Achieving perfection, with everyone performing their duty, may be beyond our reach but the rewards will be great if we can but progress in that direction ... better government, recovery of lost freedoms and the safeguarding of those we still have!

My guess is that of the two, most consider adequate balances as the more important ... they already have plenty of checks!

Without question, the midwives what helped birth our nation strived for an effective system of proper checks and balances ... the President needed the advice and consent of the Senate, which also provided a check on the House. The President's veto power served as a partial check on the Congress ... partial, since the veto can be overridden. The system of checks on the Supreme Court needs revisiting but it is for good reason protected from the whims of the other branches and the people; subject only to impeachment.

No, I'm not sure where we are, but I'm of the opinion that most of the reasons for our being here can be attributed to a departure from the principles upon which we were birthed, including a strong belief in God and our dependency upon his guidance ... and we are indebted as well to too much control of the mechanism by the media and the judicial branch; neither of which have proper checks or balances.

If we have lost our way and this isn't where we want to be, I believe we can turn this vehicle around by returning to those very same time proven and ageless principles.

Non-Political Politics?

Well, following the recent elections, I was taken aback with the journalistic posture that the "Republicans" were out of step ... and constituted a shrinking minority, not to mention the Whigs. Heard the same thing about the "Democrats" just a few years back.

Democrats, Republicans ... Liberals, Conservatives ... forget them names, they don't mean squat!

The Liberals have some good ideas ... as do the Conservatives ... and they're both impassioned. The problem is that they seem to fear and hate each other ... they simply don't trust one another and spend their time preaching to their respective choirs. What's needed is to find common ground that we can all support ... what's needed are statesmen and patriots rather than professional politicians.

It seems that when one side comes to power, they spend much of their time and energy attempting to undo what the other side did ... and as a result, we always have a convoluted mess with very little of consequence ever getting done ... one of the important reasons for opposing political parties.
For the benefit of the Doubting Thomases, I suggest that the notion of bailouts is proof positive that our society and our government are permeated with corruption ... forget if you must, the obscene monies and great imposition placed upon the people ... you need but to consider just the notion.
The need for bailouts are a long time in their coming ... had either the involved companies or the government properly attended their duties, there would be no need for such bailouts. Those involved are victims of their own abuses, mismanagement and malpractices ... the importance of industries qualifying for such special treatment demands that our government maintain a watchful regulatory eye to assure that standards are set and being met ... and for that, our governors must be held strictly accountable, for it is their negligence in the performance of their duties that is directly responsible for hundreds of billions of dollars being imposed upon the people.
The notion that the senior management of the involved companies should be allowed to continue under any circumstance further suggests governmental corruption ... that the ownership of the involved companies would even consider allowing it, is proof positive of their corruption, as is indeed the notion that bailout monies be used to pay bonuses and increase salaries. That the government would not anticipate such abuse and effect appropriate safeguards should be grounds for impeachment.
Instead of condemning them for what they are, bailouts are presented as a good thing ... a stimulus with everyone benefiting and getting their share.

We may find ourselves in one shrinking minority or another but my guess is that we still have a majority of folks in this country who share a common set of core values that transcend the traditional politics ... most of us want the same things, same but different ... and down deep, most believe that both the means and the end are important.
My guess is that most of us still oppose little boys and girls carrying deadly weapons to school ... big boys and girls too! My guess is that most of us still oppose the distribution of illegal drugs and pornography to our youngsters ... my goodness, to folks of any age! My guess is that most of us understand that our economic system must be predicated on some redistribution of wealth since there are more and more mouths to feed, but oppose policies that engender inflation where what a fellow manages to save during his productive years ain't enough to keep a body alive when he retires.
Cost me less than $2 to enjoy a baseball game with good seats, and all I wanted to eat, when I was a kid ... a very nice home was under $20,000, a fancy new car less than two. Guess they just print it when they need it ... we would go to jail if caught so doing! My guess is that most oppose wrongdoers going unpunished because of technicalities.
My guess is too that most of us share common beliefs relative to morality, propriety and proper codes of conduct.
The point is that my guess is that most of us still support a whole bunch of stuff what ain't ... and still oppose a whole bunch of stuff what is. What's more, nothing much is being done about it ... unthinkable! Common ground! I guess we simply get used to things as they are or ain't ... can't do much about it no ways.
Well, I don't buy that ... what if them boys back in 1776 had felt that way?! Those idiots imposed a "unanimous agreement" constraint upon themselves ... rather than a simple or two-thirds majority ... unbelievable! And having overcome that impossible task, took on the mighty British, seemingly without a chance.
Our four fathers may have been brilliant, well educated men ... but thank goodness, they could spell neither apathy nor fear! Like Franklin said to Adams, "it don't hurt none to try, John" ... my guess anyways! I'm with Dr, Ben ... what say Ye?
Harry Truman rose to the occasion, surprised most everybody and gave 'em Hell when he unexpectedly found himself in a difficult situation ... we can too!

To minimize spam and facilitate discussion, we have created our own GDAs ..."General Discussion Areas" ... where we hope everyone will leave their comments and enter into the discussions. The entrances are located in the sidebars, next to the currently featured posts ... but some posts have embedded buttons Miss Maudethat will take you directly inside!
For those with Blogger Sites who like our fare and would like to help promote the Shop ... you'll find our Marquee Widget in the Shop's Sidebar, available for easy installation.
Please note that I have me own brand of multipage posts ... don't be among the many who miss the paging buttons located at the top and bottom right of each multipage post. pages 1 2 3 4

To help get things started, the Shop's recent focus has been on our beginnings ... a tour with John Adams and his friends ... our last seven featured posts. Hopefully they will serve us well ... I've learned much, and it's been fun.
  • Chamberlain's Hangover
  • Parties ...
  • Thoughts ... John Adams
  • By Virtue Of ...
  • The Genius of Genius
  • Grosvenor Square, London ...
  • John Adams - Constitutional Midwife

Well, that's where we are, pretty much ... for those who haven't, we hope you'll please take the time to read, ponder, consider and evaluate these pieces, not forgetting that many have multiple pages ... it's the essence, not me words or style, what's really important, but I'd still be much obliged for suggestions as to how they can be improved. Together, we'll figure out where we are ... where we want to go, and how we might best go about getting there!
Let's start by remembering that political correctness is political ... so forgetting it is a good thing to remember, and a good place to start! Let's develop a list of things that shouldn't be political but are, or so seem ... as they will become part of our foundation, our guide to finding Common ground!
Remember too ... it's important that we not fall into the trap of falling in love with our own beliefs on specific issues to the point that we judge others, based on theirs, relative to our own. Those who so do, will succeed only in gaining approval from their respective choirs, and make little progress toward increasing the size of the Church. Though our founding patriot fathers imposed a condition of unanimity on their declaration of independence, there was sincere and passionate disagreement on most of the issues, with many differing views frequently being represented. This was especially true at the Constitutional Convention.
They had the distinct advantage of having had their freedoms overtly taken away by an external tyrant ... made obvious by folks in bright red coats running around with guns, but still, many saw the situation as hopeless and rationalized against taking action. Our tyrants are neither external nor overt ... making it far more difficult, methinks, to broaden the awareness of these threats to our freedoms and gain broad based support for efforts to right the wrongs and restore the integrity of the principles upon which our government is intended to be based.
My opines and posits are but ideas to be considered ... no pride of authorship. Indeed, let them be but our initial store of seeds which, through honest discussion, we can either transform and cultivate into fruit or discard as being unworthy. If we will all submit our seeds, ain't no telling what kind of fruit and pies we'll have to present to judges at the county fair, but my guess is we'll bring home a whole bunch of blue ribbons!
Ronald Reagan got real upset and serious about politics when he heard that a judge had dismissed the charges against a man charged with DUI because he was too drunk to understand his rights being read to him ... and look where it took him!
Reagan, not the drunk ...
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

John Adams - Constitutional Midwife - long distance

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Have you ever wondered why our government is as it is ... three separate branches, executive, legislative and judicial ... with the legislative having two distinct and separate parts?

TurgotAs we now know, the renowned Frenchman, Anne Robert Turgot, said it was because the states had "established different bodies, a body of representatives, a council, and a governor ... all simply because there is in England a house of commons, a house of lords, and a king". John Adams sternly took him to task for them remarks but my guess is that most folks today labor under the same impression, more or less ... them what give it any thought. I'm no student of history but Mrs. Gillespie said as much back in third grade ... said I was no student, too.

Of course our Founding Fathers were influenced by England, seeing as how most everybody had been subjects of the Crown all their lives before the Revolution, so yes, that structure was very familiar to them ... but, John Adams and them boys weren't no bunch of lazies what went and copied somebody else. It was only after they thought about things, long and hard, that we got what we got. Having the benefit of hindsight is like knowing how the magician does his trick ... it usually dulls the senses and lessens the wonder of it, but this is special and we must truly stand in awe ... of their industry, how thorough they were, and the depth of their thinking.

Turgot supported a single assembly and he wasn't alone ... what came out of our 1787 constitutional convention was the resultant of a real tug of war between the competing ideas of our founding fathers. What we have today is the resultant of continual tugs of war over the ensuing 222 years.

John was himself a Harvard graduate and a prominent lawyer; a master wordsmith too ... the pictures he painted back before the 1787 tug of war, are masterpieces, methinks .John AdamsThey are like pictures on the walls of the Post Office, or shown on America's Most Wanted. The art of John Adams, as seen through my eyes, ain't no substitute for the originals, but maybe it'll help us identify that for which we're looking ... answers as to why we find ourselves where we are.

They come mostly from his " DEFENCE OF THE CONSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" published in London in 1787, but his thinking was long in its making ... dating back before 1776, best I can tell.

John argued strongly against the assembly holding the judicial power ... you'd have to take off both shoes to count his reasons, but basically, it would require the assembly's members to all be well versed in the law and proper administration of justice ... or at least a sufficient number, so that the responsibility could be delegated to specific members. May sound reasonable, but ain't no way to guarantee that always being the case.

The integrity of government depends on consistent interpretation of the laws by those who judge ...with the assembly members doing the judging, they would be frequently changing; making proper jurisprudence all but impossible. Workload BurdenThird, the assembly would operate under the rule of the majority, while proper justice demands unanimity of the jury ... no citizen would feel safe, knowing their fate was in the hands of a group of politicians having unknown legal qualifications and deciding things based on majority rule.

As indicated in "Grosvenor Square, London ... the letters" ... even had there been no technical obstacles, the added administrative burden imposed upon such an assembly would have demanded separation! His was a strong argument ... so strong, that there was unlikely to be much serious opposition to keeping the judicial power separate from the executive and the legislative.

Perhaps the most important question is why we have two legislative bodies ... why not just one?

Well, obviously for "checks and balances" stupid ... the most important thing is to have a balance. Big - Little States That's what my friends said back in the third grade! OverdrawnTrue enough, at least the part about having a balance ... and the "stupid" part too, but I wonder how many really knew what that meant and why it was important. The smarter among us said it was so that the little states could be on equal footing with the big ones ... little and big being population based.

However, there was another, more relevant reason, methinks ... having been long subjected to the tyrannical rule of a young king, many of the founders wanted no part the executive power being vested in a select few, especially not just one. They, like Turgot, thought it best such power be vested in the Assembly, the one with the legislative power. John Adams strongly opposed this for many reasons, the most compelling of which were the needs for secrecy and prompt action ... neither of which were possible with an assembly of twenty, much less 500!

Though he personally preferred a stronger executive power, his suggested solution was a council, selected by the Assembly ... one that would provide counsel to the executive power, whether it be one or a few ... and without whose consent, the executive power would be severely limited. That notion, more than any other, methinks, paved the way for allowing the executive power to have adequate strength and be separate from the legislative power.
Bucking Bronct
That effectively checked the executive power ... the council was to become the Senate, but it wasn't there yet. There was the question of how it was to be constituted ... and, the notion that it be separate with a distinct legislative voice was a horse what still needed to be broke.

And now for the rest of the story ...

That power corrupts was a truth well known to the ancients ... and, one which wasn't lost until times somewhat more recent than 1787. John Adams was one of those fearing that the single assembly, having the executive power under its effective control ... Advise & Consentspecifically, its being subject to the advice and consent of the council ... would soon become the instrument of the select few; that is, under the influence and control of the most powerful members of the Assembly.

Now, among each state's representatives in the national Assembly ... a collection, one from each of the neighborhoods throughout the state, of the ones most esteemed, and loved best, for their knowledge, integrity, and benevolence ... were a few who stood out as being better looking, smarter, more influential, more persuasive, and most popular ... in a word, more powerful than the rest. John reasoned that he could kill three birds with one rock by having the Assembly select these folks to serve on the Council, separate from the Assembly and giving it a legislative negative.

It was right for the country ... John was stubborn, especially when he "knew" he was right ... a good lawyer too, and he somehow won his case, though he was in London from 1785 to 1788, serving as our minister to the Court of St. James, and missed the 1787 Constitutional Convention ... Tom did too, being in France at the time. And thus, we got our Senate; separate from the rest, which became the House ... that's the skinny ... or at least that's what he told me.

I looked it up, having a legislative negative meant they could veto whatever the House proposed, keeping them under better control. Well, the select few would have their own playground and what with them all being good looking, smart, influential, persuasive and popular ... they were equals, less likely to be able to dominate each other, so they were less likely to become corrupt than if they were power brokers in a single assembly. Perhaps more importantly, they couldn't unduly influence the less handsome, that is, the members of the house, so it too would be less subject to corruption. It made for a better distribution of labor too ... Four Birdsunder the single assembly setup, with everybody doing everything, the resulting administrative quagmire would have doomed them from the start. Three birds, maybe more ... one rock!river rock

Roger ShermanWhen the Convention got down to business, Roger Sherman of Connecticut proposed that House membership be determined according to population, with each state having the same number of senators ... one of his ideas of long standing.

You'll remember from the 1776 musical that he served on the Independence Declaration Committee, along with John, Tom, Doctor Ben, and Robert Livingston of New York ... interestingly, he's the only man to sign the major documents birthed by the Revolution... the Continental Association of 1774, the Independence Declaration, the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Well recognized for his contributions, but still under appreciated, methinks ... he also served in both the House and the Senate!.

Almost lost in the shuffle is the fact that initially, the senators were to be selected by their fellow representatives from their home states. I like that idea ... who would know them better, certainly not the people of the state at large. Mr. Rogers NeighborhoodRemember, it was the job of the people to select the most esteemed, and best loved in their neighborhood, for their knowledge, integrity, and benevolence to represent them ... Neighborsfolks they knew, in whom they had confidence ... our whole system of government was based on that principle.

It was the natural and right thing to do ... folks couldn't be expected to know enough about candidates from outside their neighborhood to make an intelligent decision ... better to rely on the best judgment of their representative from the neighborhood.. Had they violated the principle and required the people to make poorly informed choices, the entire system would have been placed at risk ... subjected to failure and collapse. The violation of principle is the worst of all corruptions, regardless of intent!

Our founders knew that ... actually, the agreed upon solution at the Convention was that senators would be selected by the respective state legislatures ... not much difference; almost as the good and simpler to administer. When you think about it, the Senate as so established, was the most important of all the pieces on the board ... having influence and control over both the House and the executive power. Maybe that's the best reason of all for making sure the best looking and smartest were in it, ... maybe not, but certainly another bird felled by that rock.

The 17th amendment of 1913 changed things to where senators were elected by a direct popular vote of the people ... widely applauded, but truly a sad day in our history, methinks. The old way had lasted for over a century and certainly there would have no such change had there not been long standing problems. Amending the constitution is by design, a most arduous task, but ultimately, the chore was done and the problems addressed ... but as is so often the case ... an essential principle was sacrificed in the process.

Rather than burdening the people with having to make poorly informed choices, the problem that should have been addressed was that "those responsible for seeing that the possess was effectively administered in a timely fashion" were not held properly accountable ... indeed, that would be the best and almost universal solution to every long standing problem we have faced since our inception ... or likely to face in the future. It would have saved a lot of time, effort and frustration ... and the integrity of the system would not have been impaired. Translation ... we must try to support those things we believe are in our nation's long term best interests and oppose those which are not ... I support Repeal of the 17th Amendment!

Dang! Like Dame Agatha said ... best place to hide something is right out in the open where everybody can see it. That's the answer for which we've been looking, methinks! Maybe John and his pet rock deserve the credit for that bird too, for while he was big on built-in safeguards to protect us against ourselves, he also put great stock in virtuous people, and I believe his answer would be to always strive to elect or appoint them to positions of trust and great importance ... give them the power to conduct the affairs of their office ... and, always, always hold them accountable to the letter!

We must always remember, which means never forget ... that so long as our principles are sound and our governors virtuous, our problems can always be effectively addressed ... the greatest of all corruption is the violation of principle, wittingly or no. When principles are violated, the integrity of the entire system is undermined, if not doomed ... redundant, perhaps ... repetition worthy, for sure.

James Madison, Father of our Constitution ... he done real good, ... but, methinks it had more than one!

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Grosvenor Square, London ... the letters

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Grosvenor Square, London ... October, 1786
The residence of John Adams ... first Minister to England, 1785-1788. Things had been busy 'round the Adams' house, what with "Nabby," his eldest, getting married in June ... to William Stephens Smith, his secretary, no less.

Ten years had passed since the Independence Declaration ... and, an eventful decade it had been, what with the war and all. Cornwallis' forces had surrendered in October, 1781 ... the last battle at sea won in March 1783, followed by the Treaty of Paris that September.

New Hampshire ratified the first state constitution, six months before the Declaration ... Virginia, South Carolina, and New Jersey also jumping the July 4 gun. Sam Adams-Bowdoin Rhode Island and Connecticut just used "white-out" to delete references to the crown in their royal charters.

Interestingly, he Massachusetts Constitution was the last of the first state constitutions to be written ... drafted by John, cousin Sam, and James Bowdoin ... ratified on June 15, 1780 and remains in effect; the oldest functioning written constitution in continuous effect in the world. Would you have expected less?

When our boys did the unthinkable and beat them wearing the red coats, lots of folks took notice ... some more than others. We got more and more space in the fishwraps, sometimes at the expense of local sports and the funnies; but folks wanted to know all about them underdog upstarts ... and the experts wanted to give them what they wanted ... that is, the benefit of their two cents.

According to John, three in particular, wrote and published their criticisms and advice concerning our state constitutions of government ... and that too became an item ... in Europe and in the colonies too, even across the breakfast table of John and Abagail Adams, I'm sure.

To be fair, those three were at a disadvantage as the 1776 Musical had yet to be released ... had they just waited, they would have known better!

With the predictability of an Old Faithful eruption, John Adams responded in epic fashion ... birthing what has come to be known as ... 'A DEFENCE OF THE CONSTITUTIONS OF GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" ... more competely, "against the attack of M. Turgot in his letter to Dr. Price dated 22 March, 1778"

But this was October, 1786 ... what took him so long?!

Turgot BustThe principal players in this drama ... John and Anne Robert Turgot, of course. Price - Mably Turgot was at a bit of disadvantage, having died in 1781, but his writings lived on, due in part to Dr. Richard Price's having published the letter 1n 1784 that was now receiving John's full and almost undivided attention ... yes, the same British preacher what sided with the patriots, friend of many, including John and Abigail ... citizen of the world, and supporter of the French Revolution.

Last was noted French political writer, the Abbé De Mably, who thought the state should redistribute wealth on the grounds of equality. Mably and Adams were acquainted from John's days in Paris ... in 1785, writing "Remarks concerning the Government and Laws of the United States of America" in four letters addressed to our man in London ... certainly his last work, having passed in that same year. I think he got included mostly 'cause he had led folks to believe that John encouraged him to write a book on the Americian Revolution ... and he just wanted to set the record straight.

John's opening letter, in which he sets his stage ... acknowledges the three as learned, well respected writers of great ability, experienced in public affairs, and knowledgeable in the nature of man, the necessities of society, and the science of government ... each having praiseworthy characters and the purest of intentions.

However, the point of John's blade is sharp and its thrust deep when he pens ... among the many excellent things contained in each, there are some attitudes that will be difficult to reconcile to reason, experience, the constitution of human nature, or to the uniform testimony of the greatest statesmen, legislators, and philosophers of all enlightened nations, ancient and modern" ... ouch!!

His technique is much the same as mine when besting blaggards brandishing boorish blog behavior, back in the day ... and all this time, I thought it had been of me own invention ... dang! The more common, modern day approach of the enlightened is to describe one's fellows as complete fools, ... and be done with it! That, or attack the sanctity of their mother, with all its vulgar trappings.

Did you notice, John used that ugly word again ... "the nature of man"

Turgot LetterTurgot's letter to Price was the main ingredient triggering all the commotion inside the witches' cauldron ... it expressed his dissatisfaction with the state constitutions ... calling them imitations, based on English customs without particular reason; surely an affront to all them what had worked hard and tried their best.

It appears Turgot was of the school what calls a "representative democracy" a republic and uses Marchamont Nedham's 17th century definition, "collecting all authority into one center, that of the nation" ... rather than doing that, he wrote to Dr. Price, the states had "established different bodies, a body of representatives, a council, and a governor" ... all simply because there is in England a house of commons, a house of lords, and a king.

Seemed to me like he was disparaging the efforts of the colonies to create a balance among the legislative, judicial and executive powers and establish restraints ... conceding that while it might be necessary in England because of the enormous influence of royalty, it could be of no possible use in republics founded upon the equality of all the citizens.

He concluded that the constitutions established different orders of men ... and thus, were an unnecessary source of division and dispute. Others had expressed similar notions; some more, some less ... most notably John Paine, methinks ... but, I sided with John Adams and more importantly, I thought M. Turgot was rude!

I'm like today's unqualified teacher what first reads the lesson, night before the class, so I don't yet know what John's reaction will be, but to me ... the Revolution was against the tyranny of the Crown ... fought mostly by patriots what themselves were of English descent and had themselves been among its subjects ... Umbrellaraised, trained and so educated, good reason for their form of government to be patterned after the one they knew and best understood.

My reaction was that M. Turgot would have been well advised to always have umbrella in hand, ... for there are indeed different orders of men, and the nature of man dictates checks and balances, even among the the best intending.

That's just me ... actually, Turgot was a very smart man ... he wrote those things, but asked Price that his comments remain private, so while I still think him wrong, I apologize for thinking him rude. I had been taken in by the lawyer from Boston, now residing in Grosvenor Square ... jumping to conclusions after reading just the opening paragraph of his first letter - "THREE writers in Europe, of great abilities, reputation, and learning, Mr. Turgot, the Abbé De Mably, and Dr. Price, have turned their attention to the constitutions of government in the United States of America, and have written and published their criticisms and advice" ... guess I'll have to dig a bit deeper if I'm to find out what criticisms and advice M. Turgot published.

While I attempt to recover from that trickery, let's see what else is in his opening letter, remembering that the Convention would begin writing the US Constitution in May 1787 ...

There has been, from the beginning of the revolution in America, those in every state, who have entertained sentiments similar to those of Mr. Turgot. Two or three states having had established governments upon his principle. Based on information from Boston, certain committees have been held, and other conventions proposed in the Massachusetts, with the expressed purpose of deposing the governor and senate, as useless and expensive branches of the constitution.

As it is probable that the publication of Mr. Turgot's opinion has contributed to excite such discontents among the people, it becomes necessary to examine it, and ... if it can be shown to be in error, then hopefully, Americans will not be misled by his authority ... even should his memory always be revered.

There we have it ... these publications, especially that letter of M. Turgot to Dr. Price, gave John Adams a forum where he could use his influence and arguments to quell the growing unrest. John's going to plead another case!
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! There was, of course, a second letter ... John Adams had no choice, as 18th century England had no phones, even after the war.

The second letter rebuts the body of M. Turgot's ... again, this is my rendering of John's expressed thoughts ... I changed things a bit whenever I had trouble understanding his 18th century, harvard educated style and word choices. I ain't no qualified interpreter, so them what have a different picture, go directly to the Shop's General Discussion area and take the podium ... no passing GO and no $200, but there's always the possibility of Mama's homemade fudge.
Dog Clipart
Warming to the task, John first gets his teeth into M. Targot being offended because the customs of England are imitated in most of the new constitutions in America, without any particular motive.Turgot Letter

If we assume that English customs were neither good nor evil in themselves ... and the people, by their birth, education, and habits, were accustomed to them, was not this a motive particular enough for their preservation, rather than endanger the public tranquillity, or unanimity, by renouncing them?

If those customs were considered wise, just, and good, and calculated to secure the liberty, property, and safety of the people, as well or better than any other institutions ancient or modern, would M. Turgot have advised the nation to reject them, merely because it was, at the time, justly incensed against the English government?
What English customs have they retained which may in any way properly be called evil?

M. Turgot's singular example ... "that a body of representatives, a council, and a governor, has been established, because there is in England a house of commons, a house of lords, and a king." The reason that such a division of power was adopted by the states was not so much because the legislature in England consisted of three branches as much as it was because their own assemblies had always been so constituted.

However, the continuation of such a plan of power was primarily from the conviction that it was founded in nature and reason.

It's fun to watch a master at work ... funner still that he agreed with me! He next addressed M.Turgot's preference for "collecting all authority into one center, the nation."

It is easy to understand how all authority may be collected into "one center" in a despot or monarch; but how it can be done, when the center is to be the nation, is more difficult to comprehend.

After rightfully cautioning that before attempting to address the notions of an author, we should be careful to ascertain his meaning ... he proceeds to examine the possibilities ... reducing the most literal to absurdity
if the center is to be the nation, "we shall remain exactly where we began, and no collection of authority at all will be made. The center will be the circle and the circle the center"

Noting too the obvious impracticalities and fatal flaws of large scale democracies ... and observing that a simple and perfect democracy has never yet existed among men. From his pulpit,
"If a village of half a mile square, and one hundred families, is capable of exercising all the legislative, executive, and judicial powers, in public assemblies of the whole, by unanimous votes, or by majorities, it is more than has ever yet been proved in theory or experience."

After long reflection, he was forced to conclude that Turgot intended,
"that an assembly of representatives should be chosen by the nation, and vested with all the powers of government; and that this assembly shall be the center in which all the authority shall be collected, and shall be virtually deemed the nation"

We reached that same conclusion without all that work ... it was founded in nature and reason, methinks.

I knowed John was psychic ... said as much in "Parties ... " He wrote,
"To examine this system in detail may be thought as trifling an occupation" ... Yet the mistakes of great men, and even the absurdities of fools, when they countenance the prejudices of numbers of people, especially in a young country, and under new governments, cannot be too fully confuted.

You will not then consider my time or yours misspent, in placing this idea of Mr. Turgot in all its lights; in considering the consequences of it; and in collecting a variety of authorities against it.

Obama's BookIt didn't make John no instant, overnight multimillionaire like Obama's book did him; that wasn't his purpose ... Subscriber listhe had about 200 subscribers what subsidized its printing and other folks read it too. We know this "Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" ... by JOHN ADAMS, LL. D. and a Member Of The Academy Of Arts and Sciences at Boston ... had a definite impact on those charged with the writing and ratification of our constitution ... there's little doubt that those directly involved, and a majority of others having a keen interest in the outcome, read it from cover to cover. Filled with accounts and insights concerning the nature of man; the "evidence" presented to support his case against the "Single Assembly" ... some folks just wanted what John had to say.

We already know what happened, more or less ... so as John said, to examine this in detail may be thought as trifling an occupation. Nonetheless, they don't make laws against rustling unless folks has been stealin' livestock. Many of his fears and things he warned against have been, and are being realized ... in spite of the safeguards and forewarnings, so you will not then consider my time or yours misspent, if we examine some of his work ... then is now, methinks

There was yet another letter ... and 53 more after that!! The fact that he was in London and would be until after the Constitution was written, must have been a heavy burden ... it might help explain the 56 letters and 308 pages, not counting a lengthy preface, devoted to his "Defence" too ... a powerful lot of reading; a powerful lot of stuff to consider from this sampler platter.
  • Without three divisions of power, stationed to watch each other, and compare each other's conduct with the laws, it will be impossible that the laws should at all times preserve their authority, and govern all men
  • it is of great importance to begin well; misarrangements now made, will have great, extensive, and distant consequences; and we are now employed, how little soever we may think of it, in making establishments which will affect the happiness of an hundred millions of inhabitants at a time, in a period not very distant
  • Another remarkable circumstance is, the reluctance of the citizens to attend the assembly of the arengo, which obliged them to make a law, obliging themselves to attend, upon a penalty. This is a defect, and a misfortune natural to every democratical constitution, and to the popular part of every mixed government. A general or too common disinclination to attend, leaves room for persons and parties more active to carry points by faction and intrigue, which the majority, if all were present, would not approve.
  • we have not yet considered how the legislative power is to be exercised in this single assembly.
    Is there to be a constitution? Who are to compose it ... the assembly itself, or a convention called for that purpose? In either case, whatever rules are agreed on for the preservation of the lives, liberties, properties, and characters of the citizens ... what is to hinder this assembly from transgressing the bounds which they have prescribed to themselves, or which the convention has ordained for them?
  • The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If Thou shalt not covet' and `Thou shalt not steal' were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.
  • The rich, the well-born, and the able, acquire an influence among the people that will soon be too much for simple honesty and plain sense, in a house of representatives. The most illustrious of them must, therefore, be separated from the mass, and placed by themselves in a senate; this is, to all honest and useful intents, an ostracism.
  • To suppose arms in the hands of citizens, to be used at individual discretion ...
    except in private self-defense, or by partial orders of towns, counties or districts of a state ... is to demolish every constitution, and lay the laws prostrate, so that liberty can be enjoyed by no man; it is a dissolution of the government

In the main, they seem to be speaking to the nature of man. The situation with which we're now confronted suggests, relative to some, that either our federal constitution failed to include proper provisions and/or requisite safeguards, or that they have somehow been compromised. The exercise will do us good, and hopefully add some more pieces to the puzzle and get us closer to being able to consider a prescription for controlling the cancer while we strive for its eradication ... let's have at it!

When attempting to relate the truths found among the letters to the situation with which we're currently faced, we must be ever mindful of the role played by the imposition of formally organized, powerful political unions. Because of the English Whigs and Tories, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking political parties were in vogue during colonial times ... however, these were not political parties in the modern sense but somewhat looser alliances of interests and individuals ... that to me is founded in nature and reason, so to speak ... and with those I have little problem, but in my view, the modern day versions are truly menacing. The system became fatally flawed with their introduction ... and the situation progressively worsened as their power and influence increased.

Seems like a question is being begged ... and if it ain't, I is ... 2 Party Politics BustIt seems governing has become a bit like today's practicing before the bar ... it's winning the case ... or in the case of the party, the election ... that counts. Justice has taken a back seat, methinks ... perhaps unjustly, I somehow feel their interest is less in governing than it is in having power, regardless of contraiwise protestions. Perhaps more on point, as the power of the modern two party system emerged, the integrity of the intended mission of the Senate was comprimised ... for man cannot properly serve competeing masters ... it is impossible, regardless of intent, and it becomes treasonous when the allegiance of its members is more to the party than to the people or the government they represent.

The question, simply put ... given that the threat from party politics was well recognized, long before the emergence of the all powerful version ...why were there not better safeguards effected to protect us from them? Perhaps it was a combination of apathy and greed ... apathy in that it was the nature of man, and greed in that it offered the potential for increased power, and facilitated the effecting of broad agendas ... it does give one pause, methinks.

There can be no question that our founders appreciated the setting in which they found themselves ... and the magnitude of the moment. FarmToward the end of his "conclusion letter," John wrote ... "In the present state of society and manners in America, with a people living chiefly by agriculture, in small numbers, sprinkled over large tracts of land, they are not subject to those panics and transports, Citythose contagions of madness and folly, which are seen in countries where large numbers live in small places, in daily fear of perishing for want: we know, therefore, that the people can live and increase under almost any kind of government, or without any government at all.

But it is of great importance to begin well; misarrangements now made, will have great, extensive, and distant consequences; and we are now employed, how little soever we may think of it, in making establishments which will affect the happiness of an hundred millions of inhabitants at a time, in a period not very distant" ... not sure folks believed that, but did themselves proud, they did ... us too!

Ever the wordsmith, John writes that a proper conclusion to all of the effort to adjudge M. Turgot's notion of a perfect commonwealth ... " the most interesting subject which can employ the thoughts of men" ... is to consider in what manner such an assembly will conduct its deliberations, and exert its power. That is to say, a single assembly possessing all the authority ... legislative, executive, and judicial.

A touch of wry humor, perhaps ... but this notion had support, and his was a real concern that it might unduely influence the constitutional convention ... so it was sincerely felt, methinks.

John's focus was first directed at the executive power as "the laws are of no consequence until an administration begins to carry them into execution" ... true enough, but surely the beginning must have been the Assembly's selection. Who are these folks, and how did they get selected?

First CongressHe considered selecting a representative assembly to be the toughest of chores ... "great care should be taken to effect in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large ... to think, feel, reason, and act like them" ... so counseled the man himself. However, from that same pen ... "the citizen must decide who is the man in his neighborhood whom he most esteems, and loves best, for his knowledge, integrity, and benevolence." Those aren't quite the same ... either way, it's a tough chore.

Surely the latter more strongly suggests men of the highest reputation, integrity, education, intelligence, courage and influence in each community will in most cases be selected, if the citizens do their duty at the local level. Gentlemen, by birth or industry ... virtuous men ... for if they are not, the community will soon be filled with slander, suspicion, and ridicule against them, as ill-bred, ignorant, and in all respects unqualified for their trust ... and these cries will come from every corner ... from every station, rich and the poor alike. If they are not, is not the government ultimately doomed, regardless of form? Thus posited John Adams ... and them's the clothes I wear as well.

Note that it doesn't not attempt to achieve a miniature portrait of the people at large ... rather a miniature of whom they trust to well represent them. Almost by definition, a very select group, one admired by the people ... the best of each community ... and regardless of definition, in the day of M. Turgot, one which would probably be dominated by the aristocrats.MinaturesPerhaps John figured them were chores what had to be done, regardless of the model ... or, that the jury themselves had already been selected, them what would draft and ratify our constitution ... whatever the reason, he went straight to the chase.

He argues that the executive power should not be vested in the assembly for many reasons, Top Secretthe leading of which are the frequent demands for secrecy and/or timely action. Indeed he proposes that the executive power be vested in one individual rather than a group of any size ... for these reasons; an important third ... accountability, and another ... the need for an identifiable head of state ... said John "there never was yet a people who must not have somebody or something to represent the dignity of the state, the majesty of the people, call it what you will ... it is the executive power"

OverworkedOne of his arguments against a single assembly holding and effecting all the power, the executive, judicial, and the legislative ... is that it doesn't lend itself to an effective division of labor ... with everyone participating in everything, the assembly would tend to frequently become overwhelmed in its routine administration ... impairing its ability to effectively govern.

Certainly, those arguments, with their accompanying evidence, are more than sufficient for John to win his case. However, It does not go unnoted that the single assembly can, through committees and appointments, delegate just about everything, including the executive power ... can, and must, if it is to long function. Thus, creating in effect, those different orders of men, divisions and disputes to which Turgot was so opposed.

And so it is the nature of man that takes center stage, and it is on that which John seems most focused ... that is, identifying the potential and inclination toward corruption, abuse and control by the select few within the assembly, and the need for safeguards against those internal forces that will undermine and destroy the government, regardless of form ... yes, the checks and the balances ... facilitated by the separation of powers and featuring a legislative power of two houses.

The threat of abuse of power in our government was of paramount concern to our founding fathers ... including the passing of laws granting special privileges to the lawmakers themselves ... it is the nature of man to push the envelope ... starting with little, seemingly insignificant abuses, and when those are permitted or become accepted as being appropriate, the inch becomes a mile.

John rests his case with the notion that ... "Where the people have a voice but there is no balance, there will be everlasting fluctuations, revolutions, and horrors, until a standing army with a general at its head, commands the peace ... or the necessity of an equilibrium becomes apparent to all, and is adopted by all"

II's truly remarkable how clearly we can see so much of which he so long ago wrote ... still hard at work in our assemblies today, this second decade of Century 21! The nature of man, a many faceted force with which to be reckoned ...

It's that time again ... please take a moment to vote in the poll if you ain't already so done ... and then visit our General Discussion Area and share your views ... on this, or whatever strikes your fancy!.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

The Genius of Genius

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Interlocking PuzzleIt's been worthwhile examining the past, attempting to find the pieces to this interlocking puzzle of ours ... why we find ourselves where we are, and how we might make things better.

The search is not yet complete but some good progress is being made, methinks. Century 21Something that has long been made, even back before Century 21 began, is a case for our society and government being filled with corruption. The blame can be laid at many a door and frequently is ... it just depends on who is asked. The better question may be ... "has the case here been made for the corruption and abuse in our governing being directly tied to our failure as a people to be virtuous, especially in the selection of our governors?"

To be clear, I firmly believe that it's true, almost by definition ... just unsure that the case has been made. Folks don't like being blamed, 'specially when they're guilty, so please understand that I'm talking about everybody else, not you and me. Let's take another look at the first of them openers what John Adams dealt me and examine its relevance to the price of tea in Boston Harbor. John said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other" ... but there's an opposing view ... some folks would have you believe that virtue and morality are subjective properties of the religious, and without relevance to the governing of a free state, ... that the government should be concerned only with the civil rights of its people.

Others want to compromise ... they think that a very moderate amount of virtue is enough, but set no limit to their desires of wealth, property, power, reputation and the like ... indeed, they include those as virtues when allowed. .

Well, I guess that answers that ... the case hasn't been made; at least there's not universal acceptance of the importance of the virtue of the people to good governing. Borrowing again from John Adams ... thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right, ... so let's have at it!

Virtue is another of those words that is misunderstood, abused and misused ... it is situation dependent ... according to Aristotle, every moral virtue stands in relationship to two opposing vices ... for example, courage lies somewhere between foolhardiness and cowardice, and what may the foolhardy in one situation, may be courageous in another ... BullyLuther DooLittle standing up to them Sedgewick boys may be courageous, but backsassing his mama is downright foolhardy!

As always, we'll try to carefully select our words and ascertain the meaning of words used by others ... though the notion that "virtue and morality are without relevance to the governing of a free state" hardly seems worthy of serious contemplation, regardless of definitions. Better to consider the source, methinks.

Defining virtue may prove a mite difficult so let's first check out some things with which we're apt to be better acquainted ...Integrity Torchpeople who adhere to a strict code of absolute sincerity, honesty, and candor, or at least sincerely so strive ... and those whose for whom sincerity, honesty, and candor are instruments of convenience, expediency, and advantage.

Worry not, this ain't no democracy where the majority rules ... not yet. I put in that "sincerely so strive" 'cause the folks what actually adhere to them things is on the endangered list ... but, regardless of our religious beliefs or where find ourselves positioned, my guess is that they're the ones we consider most worthy of our trust.

Wisdom OwlLet's try another ... those whose decisions and management of affairs reflect acumen, good judgment and self control, characterized by deliberateness, caution, and circumspection ... involving foresight, forethought, frugality and discretion ... in a word, those who are prudent, and ... those whose decisions tend to be passion driven, impulsive, and rash, with inadequate regard for possible adverse effects or long term implications.

I have no idea regarding the percentage, but again suspect a majority belong to the latter group ... and as before, regardless of religious beliefs or where find ourselves positioned, it is the former group that houses those we consider most worthy of our trust in representing us or handling our affairs.

Kind KittyOne more ... those who are genuinely kind, whose actions are selfless; whose disposition is to do good, Wildcatbe fair in their dealings, and promote the welfare of others, and ... those who are driven by ambition and self-fulfillment.

By now you know the routine ...

In each case, the desirable group, and one to which most would like to belong, is the smaller methinks ... but, like Sam Adams said, "it is no dishonor to be in a minority in the cause of liberty and virtue!"

Rare are the men who share membership in all three of those desired groups ... a most special ilk of man ... it gives one pause. A sign of the times? Sure seems that way ... but the story history tells is that folks is folks. We've been lucky these past 200 years or so ... having the protection of all them safeguards John, Tom, Ben and the rest of the boys insisted upon ... this government of ours has proven a better experiment than expected ... it taken a long time for the nature of man to get the upper hand.

There's been no talk of religion ... no subjective morality issues, neither ... so let's put that to rest. If we are to have a government that serves us well and endures, it must be based on high principles .... and it must be administered by those who themselves are driven by high principles, regardless of religious beliefs. It should be the strength of our government that it serves you well regardless of your religious beliefs ... and I would hope, the strength of your religion allows for different beliefs as well.

Surely a man's ability to overcome fear and confront danger and uncertainty is very important in evaluating his stock, perhaps most especially, the ability to stand up for what he believes to be right when his position is unpopular ... does not war prove that most men can summon the courage to fight, when left with no option? Standing up under adverse circumstance for what one thinks is right, takes special courage indeed ... as the danger can be avoided by simply staying seated.

Again, it gives us two groups ... those who chose to stand, and those who choose to remain seated.

Is it in our best interest as individuals and as a people, that men strive to be brave, control their appetites, pursue knowledge and act both justly and prudently ... and is it a reasonable expectation? Those are the virtues of long standing ... of Plato, back when he opened the Shop. Maybe it's a reasonable expectation, maybe not ... but, it's the key to the interests of self, the people and the country all getting along and living together in harmony, methinks. That's what it's all about ... surely the intended uniqueness of our government is that we enjoy the freedom to attend our personal interests as we choose, so long as the interests of the people and the country are not abused.

That's important to understand ... to me, it suggests that self interests are inherently good, not bad. They become bad when they're allowed to run rampant, out of control, abusive ... and, relative to out current focus; infringe upon the best interests of the people and/or the country. Evil forces take over ... lust, greed, selfishness, avarice, corruptness, malice, pettiness, unscrupulousness, ruthlessness, manipulation. deceitfulness ... a beast of many guises but usually easy to recognize. Of all the corruption and abuses to which we're subjected, what percentage is not associated with the coveting of power, wealth and influence? Honesty forces me to admit not knowing the answer ... is it one or two percent?

In absolute terms it really matters little ...

In the absence of divine guidance, or perhaps because of it ... it may well be that man's purpose is best attended through benevolence and selflessness ... déjà vu all over again ... just a recurring thought

Dr. FranklinDr. Franklin had this to say regarding Divine guidance during the deliberations of the 1787 Constitutional Convention ...1787 Convention

Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance and continual reasonings with each other ... our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those republics which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, no longer exist. And we have viewed modern states all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illumine our understanding?

In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor... and have we now forgotten this powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: 'that God governs in the affairs of man'. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writing that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel; we shall be divided by our little, partial local interest; our projects will be confounded; and we ourselves shall become a reproach and a byword down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter, from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing government by human wisdom and leave it to chance, war, or conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning we proceed to business.

That, from the smartest of the smart, methinks!

Well, what about those who want to compromise ... those who think that a very moderate amount of virtue is enough, but set no limit to their desires of wealth, property, power, reputation and the like?
Aristotle's view, back in the day, was ... "happiness is more often found with those who are most highly cultivated in their mind and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualities. Let us acknowledge then that each one has just so much of happiness as he has of virtue and wisdom, and of virtuous and wise action. The best life, both for individuals and states, is the life of virtue, when virtue has external goods enough for the performance of good actions"

Team players understand and will acknowledge ... not so sure about those who would be stars.

We know of John Adams' religious convictions and his beliefs concerning the importance of virtue and being virtuous ... we know too that he wasn't alone ... there were many more than just him and Dr. Ben. This, for your own contemplation and reflection ... it makes our case methinks!

"In selecting men for office, let principle be your guide. Regard not the particular sect or denomination of the candidate ... look at his character. It is alleged by men of loose principles, or defective views of the subject, that religion and morality are not necessary or important qualifications for political stations. ... It is to the neglect of this rule that we must ascribe the multiplied frauds, breaches of trust, speculations and embezzlements of public property which astonish even ourselves; which tarnish the character of our country and which disgrace our government. When a citizen gives his vote to a man of known immorality, he abuses his civic responsibility; he not only sacrifices his own responsibility; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country."Noah Webster

It's from the pen of Noah Webster, the one with the dictionary ... and quoted in a previous post, "In Virtue Of" ... as said there, we need not look far to find corporeal evidence of those truths. It's worth rereading, that's why it's here ... indeed it's worth memorizing! It should be republished in every newspaper and church bulletin on the eve of every election ... and permanently posted on the walls of every classroom throughout the land ... and on every blog that supports freedom!

Most of those to whom we've looked have been of the same ilk ... preaching similar sermons ... wanting what's best for the people and the country ... and thank goodness that it was so. However, for those too young to remember, those concerns of Noah Webster aren't new ... not exactly sure when they were written, but he was pushing thirty when the Constitution was signed ... the abuses, corruption, and their attendant evils have been a long time in their coming..

Mama frequently counseled ... "you're known by the company you keep!"

For them what's riding the fence, it might help to compare those counseling the importance of virtue and morality to those offering differing counsel ... and decide which places you in the better company. Here's what a few of our nation's midwives and attending physicians had to say:

Jefferson ... Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly. Encourage all your virtuous dispositions, and exercise them whenever an opportunity arises, being assured that they will gain strength by exercise, as a limb of the body does, and that exercise will make them habitual

Washington ... Human rights can only be assured among a virtuous people. The general government . . . can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy, an oligarchy, an aristocracy, or any despotic or oppressive form so long as there is any virtue in the body of the people

Franklin ... Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters

Benjamin Rush ... The only foundation for... a republic is to be laid in Religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments

Fisher Ames ... Our liberty depends on our education, our laws, and habits . . . it is founded on morals and religion, whose authority reigns in the heart, and on the influence all these produce on public opinion before that opinion governs rulers

Charles Carroll ... Without morals a republic cannot subsist any length of time; they therefore who are decrying the Christian religion are undermining the solid foundation of morals, the best security for the duration of free governments. ...

John Witherspoon ... Let a man's zeal, profession, or even principles as to political measures be what they will, if he is without personal integrity and private virtue, as a man he is not to be trusted ...

It is the duty of all wise, free, and virtuous governments to countenance and encourage virtue and religion ... John Jay

A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy.... While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader ... Samuel Adams

It is certainly true that a popular government cannot flourish without virtue in the people ... Richard Henry Lee

The institution of delegated power implies that there is a portion of virtue and honor among mankind which may be a reasonable foundation of confidence ... Alexander Hamilton

James MadisonThe aim of every political Constitution, is or ought to be first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust ... James Madison

Patrick HenryBad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles ... Patrick Henry

Thirteen examples, same number as there were colonies ... a pretty good testament to what they believed, methinks, surely enough to persuade the most doubting Thomas!
Well, perhaps there are some who are thinking ... them fellers were all part of the same conspiracy and probably had to say those things! Maybe ... but many others have expressed their thoughts and me benevolence forces me to be fair and give them equal time ...

All the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue ... Plato

The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world, is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them ... Socrates

The superior man thinks always of virtue; the common man thinks of comfort ... Confucius

When virtue is banished, ambition invades the minds of those who are disposed to receive it, and avarice possesses the whole community ... Montesquieu

No people can be great who have ceased to be virtuous ... Samuel Johnson

Fruits are always of the same nature with the seeds and roots from which they come ... that society of men which constitutes a government upon the foundation of justice, virtue, and the common good, will always have men to promote those ends; and that which intends the advancement of one man's desire and vanity, will abound in those that will foment them ... Algernon Sidney

America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great ... Alexis de Tocqueville

Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their appetites; in proportion as their love of justice is above their rapacity; in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption; in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsel of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves ... Edmund Burke

Douglas MacArthur - George Will
Douglas MacArthur ... History fails to record a single precedent in which nations subject to moral decay have not passed into political and economic decline. Andy JacksonThere has been either a spiritual awakening to overcome the moral lapse, or a progressive deterioration leading to ultimate national disaster

No free government can stand without virtue in the people, and a lofty spirit of patriotism ... Andrew Jackson

George Will ... Today it would be progress if everyone would stop talking about values. ReaganInstead, let us talk, as the Founders did, about virtues

Ronald Reagan ... Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience... If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under.Thoreau

Somehow strangely the vice of men gets well represented and protected but their virtue has none to plead its cause -- nor any charter of immunities and rights... Henry David Thoreau

If I've counted correctly, that makes 13 ... a scary thought perhaps is that our future will soon be in the hands of our youth ... it is as it has always been, our duty to see that they are well prepared ... the primary reason for the thought being scary, methinks. As the brilliant Algernon Sidney's words suggest, from the acorn comes the oak ... as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. We can have no greater duty, and the long standing lack of its proper attendance is at the heart of things being as they are.
Webster Dictionary

Noah Webster said, “I have been a believer in the magic of language since, at a very early age, I discovered that some words got me into trouble and others got me out” ... a club to which many of us belong. I wish I could select the words that would keep me out of trouble and truly convey my feelings ... to convey the urgency of the moment ... the need for an awakening ...effective action needs to be taken, now and without delay ... but, we must always, without fail, properly attend our children!

His counsel to students ... "The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head"

As proof that words are more powerful than the transporter of the Enterprise, we return to 1787 ... Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! They done did the impossible and beat the mighty British ... they would do it again in New Orleans, but just now the struggle was with ideas and words ... Noah had yet to write his dictionary and no, they didn't have no Spell-Checker ... don't think they knowed how to use computers. Lots of good folks with different notions and strong feelings ... the smart money was 7 to 1 against ... and then it was done, ... a constitution..We The People

Or was it?Dr. Franklin

Would it be signed and ratified ... again, the smart money said no, possibly because our eldest and most respected statesman, Ben Franklin was among those having serious problems with the proposed version.

Dr. Franklin asked permission to address the Constitutional Convention but wasn't strong enough to deliver his speech ... it was read for him by fellow Pennsylvania Delegate, James Wilson ... impossible to improve upon stuff from the smartest of the smart, it's presented here as written ... for your consideration and comments.

Mr. President

I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.

Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele, a Protestant in a Dedication, tells the Pope that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right — Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats.

Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best.

The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. If every one of us in returning to our Constituents were to report the objections he has had to it, and endeavor to gain partizans in support of them, we might prevent its being generally received, and thereby lose all the salutary effects & great advantages resulting naturally in our favor among foreign Nations as well as among ourselves, from our real or apparent unanimity.

Much of the strength & efficiency of any Government in procuring and securing happiness to the people, depends, on opinion, on the general opinion of the goodness of the Government, as well as of the wisdom and integrity of its Governors. I hope therefore that for our own sakes as a part of the people, and for the sake of posterity, we shall act heartily and unanimously in recommending this Constitution (if approved by Congress & confirmed by the Conventions) wherever our influence may extend, and turn our future thoughts & endeavors to the means of having it well administred.

On the whole, Sir, I can not help expressing a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it, would with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his own infallibility, and to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument.

That's as good as it gets!
The qualities that find our favor, so do without first asking us to identify our religion ... Good, Bad, Uglygood and bad were created a long time ago, about the same time as man, methinks.

Definitions can be tricky but if being religious is faithfully attempting to adhere to a set of canon prescribing behavior and beliefs, then it really doesn't matter so much what our own might be ... seems to me that it's the Super Glue that holds us together and allows us to rise above our baseness, control our appetites, endure adversity and spit in its eye ... to stand tall and be virtuous, if you will.

For some reason, my thoughts keep returning to the notion that the key to it all is selflessness ... being devoted to doing good for good's sake, devoted to the welfare and best interests of others rather than self fulfillment, especially as it applies to our governors.

Without the restraining bounds of religion, man seems to be all about self and is driven by ambition and self-fulfillment ... man covets power, wealth and influence, and it is to this that we owe virtually 100% of the corruption and abuses to be found in our society, including our government ... again, perhaps most especially.

The doctrine that discounts the relevance of virtue and morality and focuses upon civil rights belongs to those who would have us all do what is right in our own eyes, with accountability only to ourselves, methinks. Sounds pretty good ... if we could depend on everybody doing that ... except for them crazies what thinks wrong is right. It would certainly have natural appeal to the oppressed and very poor, as well as those who see themselves as enlightened and capable of self government. But surely this is a road paved with fool's gold ... leading to a state of anarchy in which none would be safe ... the very notion of civil rights would be lost ... and it is not extreme to expect man, left to his own devices, to become enslaved by his wanton desires and pleasures.

That is not intended as a religious position ... there are no easy answers ... Paper Moneywe must just as carefully examine the credentials of those wearing the mantel of faith, proffering kindred doctrine that would impose their morality upon us, while making them exempt from our scrutiny on the grounds that they're doing God's work, and should be allowed to so do with impunity.

God's WorkIf indeed they are genuine, it should be readily discernible, from deed rather than assertion ... those who fear, resent or refuse our probing questions and closest scrutiny ... are not worthy of our trust or our consideration, for if it is God they serve, and to whom they hold themselves accountable, then surely our desire to be satisfied regarding their legitimacy would be embraced rather than rebuffed.

That we endorse the individual's right to a private relationship with their God, is applauded by all ... or so we would hope and so it would seem ... but, while the infinite nature of God is beyond our finite comprehension, it is the nature of man to feel his beliefs superior to those of others, something of which we should be ever mindful ... folks is always tolerant of those what think and believe the same as them.

Self expression is not my forte but the wisdom of placing of trust in those who would seek exemption from accountability, on any grounds, for any reason is suspect ... for regardless of how sweet sounding the melody, such is the music played on the instruments of those motivated by personal self interests and ambitions.

1787 ConventionOur Founding Fathers ... James Madison, and his helpers, what wrote our Constitution ... and them what attended the Convention, were as a group what we would call virtuous men. It's not perfect, and neither were they, that's for sure ... but it's a framework like no other, set up to enable the best governing possible and providing safeguards to protect us from external threats and more importantly, ourselves.Man, Boy and Donkey

They did all this, being well aware of AEsops' "The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey" ... imagine that.

The enlightened who bathe in the waters of their desires and vanities scoff at the wisdom suggested by the biblical question "what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" ... as being the stuff of flawed religion. I would suspect that it is embraced by all religions of consequence ... and for the enlightened who reject such stuff as nonsense,here's a substitute, from the earlier provided list ... "all the gold which is under or upon the earth is not enough to give in exchange for virtue" ... preached by Plato, way back when he owned the Shop.

As you may have guessed, Miss Murray is equipped with a special transmission allowing us to change gears at any time without transition or warning ... adds to the ride, but is oft unintended ... seatbelts advised! "Failure seems to be regarded as the one unpardonable crime, success as the all-redeeming virtue, the acquisition of wealth as the single worthy aim of life. Ten years ago such revelations as these would have sent a shudder through the community, and would have placed a stigma on every man who had had to do them. Now they merely incite others to surpass by yet bolder outrages and more corrupt combinations" ...

Charles F AdamsSeems like somebody on the nightly news getting carried away in their commentary, but actually, those were the words of Charles Francis Adams, John Quincy's boy ... Erie Stock Certificatetalking about the infamous scandal involving the Erie Railway Company. From 1866 to 1868, a group used unauthorized stock issues, political chicanery, and continual nuisance litigation to out maneuver Cornelius Vanderbilt and keep control of the company ... things were so bad Erie Railway became known as the "scarlet woman of Wall Street."

That's history ... the "pushing the envelope" message remains relevant, more so today than back then, methinks!

While it may be misunderstood and of those words what will get me into trouble, I would suggest to the enlightened that rather than a man's religion defining his morality and virtue, the reverse it true. The solution lies in the people reclaiming their virtue, ... restoring it to its former self, and becoming virtuous in the selection of its governors ... but they must first realize that they've lost it.

The people seem divided into two competing camps ...those most interested in "what's best for the people and the country" ... that's me and you ... and those most interested in "their own self interests" ... everybody else. If we took a poll of the people, most all would agree that the self serving blaggards are at the heart of the problem... should be flogged, have their citizenship revoked, then exiled to the salt mines.

A poll of the people regarding apathy being the at the heart would bring the same results, methinks ...

Of course, they would all raise sand when loaded on the trucks ... except maybe a few salt addicts. We must be ever mindful that human nature is to replace mirrors with self portraits when looking at one's self.

Our government has endured for almost 225 years ... your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help restore it to its intended and rightful state ... perhaps more importantly, help reinvigorate the people so that it will be properly maintained, hopefully for at least another 225 years. Perhaps it's a mission impossible, but that was the conventional wisdom, back in 1776 as well!

Has the case here been made for the corruption and abuse in our governing being directly tied to our failure as a people to be virtuous, especially in the selection of our governors?

Miss MaudeWell, it's safe to unfasten your seatbealts ... time to stop, pause, and refill Miss Murray's tank. Comments are the sweet feed what gives us direction and fuels Miss Maude Murray, and we hope you'll leave yours in the virtual sweet feed depository ... what say ye?
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