Happy Independence Day!
From the excellent HBO miniseries - John Adams...
Also to celebrate today, Ronald Reagan's 1986 Independence Day speech from New York Harbor commemorating the centennial of the Statue of Liberty and her reopening after major renovations...
For just a moment, let us listen to the words again: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Last night when we rededicated Miss Liberty and relit her torch, we reflected on all the millions who came here in search of the dream of freedom inaugurated in Independence Hall. We reflected, too, on their courage in coming great distances and settling in a foreign land and then passing on to their children and their children’s children the hope symbolized in this statue here just behind us: the hope that is America. It is a hope that someday every people and every nation of the world will know the blessings of liberty.
My fellow Americans, it falls to us to keep faith with them and all the great Americans of our past. Believe me, if there's one impression I carry with me after the privilege of holding for 5\1/2\ years the office held by Adams and Jefferson and Lincoln, it is this: that the things that unite us -- America's past of which we're so proud, our hopes and aspirations for the future of the world and this much-loved country -- these things far outweigh what little divides us. And so tonight we reaffirm that Jew and gentile, we are one nation under God; that black and white, we are one nation indivisible; that Republican and Democrat, we are all Americans. Tonight, with heart and hand, through whatever trial and travail, we pledge ourselves to each other and to the cause of human freedom, the cause that has given light to this land and hope to the world.
This is a reflective holiday for me - because I am an American by choice. I am a naturalized American - becoming a citizen in 2003. Since becoming an American, the Fourth of July has had a slightly different meaning to me.
I am thinking of this after reading Roger L. Simon's post for today on PJ Media - where he writes of 'The Last Fourth of July'. Roger writes about gaining a deeper understanding of American exceptionalism - from a foreigner - that is part of his personal journey from liberal to conservative.
American exceptionalism is something that is embraced by conservatives and appears to embarrass the progressives. To me, it is about the core values established and denoted in the Declaration of Independence - the spirit that led to achieving independence from Great Britain - and then onto developing another exceptional document, the Constitution of the United States. This is a nation that was built on the premise of less government, by people, people who immigrated here from every nation on earth for the opportunity to become what they could based on their abilities - not based on their status of birth or religion. It was for the equality of opportunity that this country offered that attracted so many to leave their homelands. They came and adopted this country's values. They embraced and celebrated those values - voluntarily assimilating into becoming Americans and teaching their children the values of American exceptionalism contained in our founding documents.
This is a nation that has gone to war to stop some of the greatest evils in the world. This is a nation that grew from 13 poor states to become a beacon of prosperity - whose prosperity has made the world a better place. It sets the example that individual liberty, rights, and equality of opportunity with limited government interference brings innovation, trade, prosperity, and freedom. This is a country that helps those who need help - the most generous nation when it comes to providing assistance. This highlights another trait of American exceptionalism - the willingness to help those in need be it through our charitable donations as individuals and as a nation.
What makes America exceptional are her people, and her values which are encased within the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - not in her government or in the reach of the government.
Often it is those who are not Americans who can explain it better. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says it quite well in his Independence Day message to the United States...
“As Israel’s Prime Minister I appreciate deeply all that American has done for Israel. And as a leader of one of the world’s most vibrant democracies, you know how vibrant, I appreciate all of the sacrifices America has made in order to advance liberty and democracy throughout the world… I’m always moved when I read Thomas Jefferson’s words. They made America a beacon of liberty for all humanity.”
Hot Air's Ed Morrissey writes today in a post highlighting lessons learned for this Independence Day courtesy of cartoonist Michael Ramirez and Bill Whittle. His intro says it quite well...
The fate of our liberty should not rest on just five people at the Supreme Court, even if that’s their job, as Bill reminds us. No, the responsibility rests on all Americans, and we already took the first step toward reasserting the primacy of liberty in 2010. In four months, we can finish the job, and that should have us energized, not depressed:
Heritage Foundation's blog, 'The Foundry', today asks the question - 'Does the Declaration of Independence Still Matter?'
Woodrow Wilson, one of the most famous early progressives, argued during the 1912 presidential campaign that “all that Progressives ask or desire is permission…to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle,” meaning that it should promote an ever-expanding set of powers for an ever-expanding government. The problem, he declared, was that pesky Declaration of Independence: “Some citizens of this country have never got beyond the Declaration of Independence,” he remarked. “The Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day.”
But in fact the Declaration is more than a litany of complaints. Its greater meaning is as a statement of the conditions of legitimate political authority and the proper ends of government. It proclaimed that political rule would, from then on, reside in the sovereignty of the people. “If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence,” wrote the great historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, “it would have been worthwhile.”
The ringing phrases of the document’s famous second paragraph are a powerful synthesis of American constitutional and republican government theories. All men have a right to liberty as they are by nature equal, which is to say none are inherently superior and deserve to rule or inferior and deserve to be ruled.
Because all are endowed with these rights, the rights are unalienable, which means that they cannot be given up or taken away. And because individuals equally possess these rights, governments derive their just powers from the consent of those governed. Government’s purpose is to secure these fundamental rights and, although prudence tells us that governments should not be changed for trivial reasons, the people retain the right to alter or abolish government when it becomes destructive of these ends.
Liberalism or progressivism in this country sees a different purpose for government. They see the need not for equality of opportunity, but for the claimed equality of results. But even in this, they are not telling the full truth - because the real goal is for far more base results - power, control, and wealth.
In Powerline, Steven Hayward talks about 'Liberalism's Biggest Lie'...
What is liberalism’s current equivalent of “Of course I’ll still respect you in the morning!,” or, “The [welfare] check is in the mail”?* Without question it is that they only want the “rich” to pay their “fair share.” You can waterboard a liberal, but you’ll never get a specific definition of what constitutes the “fair” tax rate for “the rich” that isn’t always “more than the rate they’re paying now.”
Right now the Obama Administration’s talking point is that they want the rich to pay “a little bit more” to help balance the budget and (somehow) help the economy get back on its feet. So let’s roll the tape: in the 1990 budget deal, liberals demanded that the rich pay “a little bit more” to help reduce the deficit, so President George H.W. Bush agreed to raise the top income tax rate from 28 percent to 31 percent, sacrificing his chances for a second term in the process. But that wasn’t enough: Bill Clinton demanded that the rich pay “a little bit more” in his first budget in 1993, and raised the top marginal income tax rate to 36 percent (though actually an effective rate of 39 percent when all the monkey business with the phase out of certain deductions and credits were considered). President George W. Bush managed to cut rates temporarily back closer to the pre-Clinton levels, but it is these rates that will expire at the end of the year unless Congress acts. Meanwhile, Obamacare will add a 3.8 percent surtax on capital gains and dividends starting January 1.
The big lie is that liberals only want to tax the rich alone, because even a fiscal dunce like Obama knows that complete confiscation of the wealth of the rich won’t begin to come close to filling our fiscal hole. “Tax the rich” is always just misdirection for raising taxes on the middle class, where the real money is.
Raising taxes on the middle class? Absolutely. That's what Obamacare ultimately is - the largest tax increase in the history of the United States. Despite the arguments made thusfar that the individual mandate is only a 'penalty' by many of the left (and a sole knuckleheaded Romney campaign adviser) - it is a tax as confirmed by the most senior White House adviser to President Obama, Valerie Jarrett...
And from the Republican candidate for President himself comes his official position...
If the Supreme Court says it's a tax, then hey, it's a tax
President Barack Obama spent today at a July 4th White House naturalization ceremony for members of the U.S. Armed Forces - and in comments to the new citizens, renewed his call for the Dream Act - a path towards citizenship for illegal immigrants.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke before the National Education Association's annual conference, telling the members of the largest teacher's union that not only is the progressive / Keynesian economic model the answer for the country - saying that government spending is the answer, and that the private sector does not generate economic growth, but that Republicans hate teachers.
Vice President Joe Biden faulted Mitt Romney for believing that “so-called job creators” build the economy, as he suggested that government spending and increased taxes on the wealthy would provide long-term economic strength.
“[Romney believes] somehow, that those so-called job creators will make everything okay for the rest of us,” Biden said at the National Education Association conference. “We believe that the way to build this country is the way we always have, from the middle out . . . [to] invest in the things that have always made our economy grow: innovation, research, development, infrastructure, and education.”
Then says that the GOP ‘hates teachers’ - “The fact of the matter is, we have a fundamentally different view. [Romney] doesn’t think that you all know much about to educate. His allies characterize you as not caring about students, but caring about yourselves,” Mr. Biden said in a speech at the National Education Association’s annual conference. As the largest labor union in the nation with more than 3 million members, the NEA is a key constituency for Mr. Biden’s and President Obama’s re-election hopes.
Mr. Biden found a friendly audience among NEA members, many of whom wore “Educators for Obama” T-shirts and chanted “four more years” as the vice president finished his remarks.
The Veep is partially correct. Republicans do not hate teachers. We do hate the teachers unions. And where he is correct is because we do characterize the union as not caring about students - only themselves. For evidence, we don't have to look any further that examples like the one from Sacramento, CA where this year's Teacher of the Year was dismissed because union seniority was valued more than ability to educate and motivate students. Or Wisconsin where the public sector union reforms of Governor Scott Walker have resulted in less money for the unions, but more money for students, programs, and restored hundreds of school districts to fiscal solvency.
Today, the Daily Caller is reporting that another document uncovered by Congressional investigators shows a possible Fast and Furious cover-up being orchestrated at the highest levels of the Department of Justice...
In a letter Tuesday, Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley pressed Attorney General Eric Holder for details about a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives memorandum that indicates his Department of Justice may have tried to cover up the gunwalking tactics that were at the heart of Operation Fast and Furious.
Gary Styers, an ATF special agent in the Lubbock, Texas field office, wrote what Grassley described as a “Fast and Furious memorandum” on Feb. 3, 2011. In it, Styers described how two investigators for Grassley’s Senate Judiciary Committee office had contacted him the day before about the Fast and Furious operation.
The memo described a specific operation in which guns were allowed to walk across the Mexican border. Grassley told Holder that “according to ATF personnel, the memorandum was discussed by high level ATF personnel and possibly forwarded to DOJ headquarters on February 3, 2011.”
On Feb. 4 — one day later — Assistant Attorney General Ron Weich signed a letter to Grassley denying that guns were ever allowed to walk, including in Fast and Furious. The DOJ withdrew that letter to Congress nine months later, admitting that the statement was false.
This, Mr. Attorney General, is why you were charged with both criminal and civil contempt of Congress - not because of a political witch hunt. This is Watergate - with hundreds of dead bodies.
North Carolina State Representative Becky Carney (D), pressed the wrong button while voting yesterday, and cast the deciding vote overriding Democrat NC Governor Bev Perdue's veto of legislation legalizing natural gas fracking in North Carolina.
Scientists at Switzerland's CERN (European Council for Nuclear Research) are 99.99% certain that they have discovered the 'God particle' - the Higgs Bosons - which is the last missing piece of the Standard Model. The Standard Model is the theory that describes the basic building blocks of the universe. The other 11 particles predicted by the model have been found, and the Higgs Bosons is the last piece of the puzzle.
Bloomberg is reporting that 'most Germans reject ceding sovereignty to the European Union' as is being asked as a solution for the Euro zone fiscal crisis, according to a German poll. This places the Germans squarely at odds with France, Spain, Italy, and Greece which seek to extend their debt obligations across the entire EU under a 'stronger' union - like the one envisioned by Jacques Delors.
Being the Fourth of July does not give us a pass from inanity from the mainstream media...
The Washington Post launches a new attack on Mitt Romney with the headline 'Mystery firm in Bermuda and other assets hint at more Romney wealth'. - Just how many stories did the WaPo run on John Kerry's wealth? Or even his attempted tax dodge by docking his multimillion dollar yacht in Rhode Island?
Striving to cement its current position as the most left biased paper in America, the WaPoo also launches an attack on the GOP Governors who are already announcing that their states will opt out of Obamacare's Medicare expansion - accusing them of undermining efforts to insure poor Americans. What the WaPoo neglects to mention is the massive fiscal hammer that this program drops on the states or that Obamacare strips out half a trillion dollars from Medicare - which will have a major adverse impact on Doctors and Hospitals who will increasingly turn away from Medicare patients.
Finally we have the whinging of the sacked / former Politico White House Correspondent, Joe Williams, who is still blaming the 'right wing noise machine' for his racist and irresponsible tweets that led to Politico firing him.
Today in History
1776 - The Continental Congress adopts the Declaration of Independence which proclaims the independence of the United States of America from Great Britain and its King.
1826 - Fifty years to the day of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson die hours apart.
1863 - Confederate General John C. Pemberton surrenders the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi to forces under the command of Union General Ulysses S. Grant. With the fall of Vicksburg, the Union gains full control of the Mississippi River, dividing the Confederacy into two. Also on the evening of the 4th, Confederate General Robert E. Lee begins to withdraw his battered Army of Northern Virginia after his defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. The Union Army remains in place - failing to aggressively pursue the Confederates as they pull back to Virginia.
1911 - A massive heat wave strikes the Northeastern United States - from Pennsylvania into New England. The heat wave, which will last for 11 days, causes the deaths of 380 people. Nashua, New Hampshire sets a record with a recorded high temperature of 106 degrees F.