WHAT IS HUMOROUS ABOUT INDEPENDENCE DAY IN THE YEAR 2014?

declaration of independenceCharles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu had a sense of humor.  Therefore, when he wrote The Spirit of laws, a very serious work, he still gave us the opportunity to laugh at ourselves.

2. Different Significations of the word Liberty. There is no word that admits of more various significations, and has made more varied impressions on the human mind, than that of liberty. Some have taken it as a means of deposing a person on whom they had conferred a tyrannical authority; others for the power of choosing a superior whom they are obliged to obey; others for the right of bearing arms, and of being thereby enabled to use violence; others, in fine, for the privilege of being governed by a native of their own country, or by their own laws. A certain nation for a long time thought liberty consisted in the privilege of wearing a long beard. Some have annexed this name to one form of government exclusive of others: those who had a republican taste applied it to this species of polity; those who liked a monarchical state gave it to monarchy. Thus they have all applied the name of liberty to the government most suitable to their own customs and inclinations: and as in republics the people have not so constant and so present a view of the causes of their misery, and as the magistrates seem to act only in conformity to the laws, hence liberty is generally said to reside in republics, and to be banished from monarchies. In fine, as in democracies the people seem to act almost as they please, this sort of government has been deemed the most free, and the power of the people has been confounded with their liberty. (from here)

Because we are Americans, we each have the right to react to Independence Day in our own way, at least for the time being. Some understand the value of liberty. Some do not.

Here are how some of my favorite blogs, bloggers who value Liberty, celebrated Independence Day.

The bluebird of bitterness posted a video, Happy Independence Day, that honors the sacrifices of our veterans. An earlier post, Sweet land of liberty, provides some remarkable photos that portray our nation’s symbols.

Always On Watch: Semper Vigilans features a video, Independence Day 2014. One of our nation’s treasures,  now deceased, bequeathed us this video. The video is about this line from the Declaration of Independence.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our

sacred Honor.

The Christian Gazette posted Finding Freedom and Patriotism Revisited. Both posts emphasize in different ways the first loyalty of a devout Christian.

In What does the Bible say about courage?, altruistico considers the subject of courage. What enabled the men and women who fought for an independent United States to make the attempt? How did they persevere through the long years of a bloody war?

aurorawatcherak tackles Independence Day from two different directions.  On Being American recalls what it once meant to be an American. Independence begins with these words.

Liberty is a Biblical concept. The notion of freedom in Christ would eventually lead to the American experiment in liberty.

BUNKERVILLE | God, Guns, and Guts Comades! provides a post that honors the sacrifices of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence. That post also recalls George Orwell warning, “It depends on you.”

Instead of conserving energy, nebraskaenergyobserver provides an extravaganza in Broad Stripes and Bright Stars and something more serious in The Vote. Make certain you listen to the The Vote.

Some people enjoy sporting events.  Therefore Red NoVA posted the picture of a big flag at a football game, Happy Independence Day.

Keith DeHavelle writes superb poetry, and he honored the occasion with a poem, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

Finally, we have comics from Be Sure You’re RIGHT, Then Go Ahead and Thinking in Christ.

After considering considering the previous posts, what is so funny about the comics? For things of little value, we would throw away something precious, our unalienable Rights, among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Before they speak or act, Christians are suppose to ask themselves a question: “What would Jesus do?” For the sake of government handouts, would Jesus give away His neighbors’ Rights?

THE SPIRIT OF LAWS => THE SEPARATION OF POWERS

constitution1.pngLike many men and women in their later years, with Delegate Scott Lingamfelter regards the policies of the current occupant of the White House with a mixture of astonishment, horror, and anger.  Here is how he expressed that combination in his latest email.

Resolve Independence

I’m up early this morning counting blessings and having all of our children with us for the Independence Day holiday.

I say Independence Day because that is the specific title of the celebration. Often people call this holiday “The 4th of July”, but when we do, we risk missing an opportunity to remind people that it’s a lot more than parades, picnics, and a cool dip on a hot day. We are celebrating independence from tyranny; then imposed by the British; now in the threats to our liberty posed by our own government.

I never saw it coming. I served this nation’s Army for 28 years, and in combat too, and the oath I took to the Constitution is one I felt was life long, not transitory. So I know you, like I do, recoil when we see our President and the Attorney General of the United States implement government by executive fiat, completely bypassing the legislature that is granted the authority-exclusively-to pass laws.

The other day President Obama said he was frustrated with Congress and that he will take independent action. Mr. President, this is NOT the “independence” day our Founders had in mind when they penned the Declaration of Independence and later the Constitution.

Our Constitution is only as steady as those who abide by it. And when we have leaders who decide to ignore it, our independence from tyranny is fundamentally threatened.

When I was running for the Lieutenant Governor nomination, I reminded folks that I thought people would look back on this time historically and refer to it as “the time of constitutional challenge”. A year later, I am more alarmed that we are in a time of “constitutional dereliction”, a posture which if unchecked will destroy liberty.

So this Independence Day, reserve some time to think about what our Founder’s had in mind when they wrote our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. Ask yourself what you resolve to do about it-yes resolve-not just complain. And remember our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen deployed overseas. While politicians make speeches about freedom, fighters deliver it.

Our independence will not be secured in the knowledge of our liberties alone. It takes the action of patriots. As my friend and Founder of the Family Foundation, Walt Barbee, was fond of saying “knowledge without action is useless”.

Remember that this Independence Day.

When the founders wrote The United States Constitution, they referenced the  The Spirit of laws by Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu. Why? They thought what Montesquieu had to say about the separation of powers highly important. Oddly, Montesquieu spoke about this subject in respect to England, their recent adversary. Here is a sample.

6. Of the Constitution of England. In every government there are three sorts of power: the legislative; the executive in respect to things dependent on the law of nations; and the executive in regard to matters that depend on the civil law.

By virtue of the first, the prince or magistrate enacts temporary or perpetual laws, and amends or abrogates those that have been already enacted. By the second, he makes peace or war, sends or receives embassies, establishes the public security, and provides against invasions. By the third, he punishes criminals, or determines the disputes that arise between individuals. The latter we shall call the judiciary power, and the other simply the executive power of the state.

The political liberty of the subject is a tranquillity of mind arising from the opinion each person has of his safety. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another.

When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner.

Again, there is no liberty, if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and executive. Were it joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression.

There would be an end of everything, were the same man or the same body, whether of the nobles or of the people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions, and of trying the causes of individuals. (from here)

When our president seeks to combine both executive and legislative powers, that is not a good thing, not at all.

 

THE SPIRIT OF LAWS => PATRIOTISM AS A VIRTUE: JULY 4, 2014

flagWhat is the 4th of July? That is a day when many Americans enjoy a summer holiday picnicking and watching fireworks. Should it be something more? We live in an era when America appears to be in a state of rapid decline. Therefore, we see many articles that begin like this.

There are so many scandals plaguing the administration of Barack Obama that any sentient historian would have to contemplate whether this nation’s status as the world’s model democratic nation has finally come to an end. The reason is that past scandals plaguing presidential administrations, with the notable exception of Watergate, essentially involved either money-taking by subordinate officeholders (Whiskey Ring of 1875 or Teapot Dome of 1921-22, for example) or personal misconduct, as in the case of the Monica Lewinsky affair under President Clinton. (continued here at www.washingtontimes.com)

Should the number of scandals worry us? What do they indicate? Is it possible they show we no longer care?

When Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu wrote The Spirit of laws, he concerned himself with many things. One was education, how a people instill into their children the love of their country.

5. Of Education in a Republican Government. It is in a republican government that the whole power of education is required. The fear of despotic governments naturally arises of itself amidst threats and punishments; the honour of monarchies is favoured by the passions, and favours them in its turn; but virtue is a self-renunciation, which is ever arduous and painful.

This virtue may be defined as the love of the laws and of our country. As such love requires a constant preference of public to private interest, it is the source of all private virtues; for they are nothing more than this very preference itself.

This love is peculiar to democracies. In these alone the government is entrusted to private citizens. Now a government is like everything else: to preserve it we must love it.

Has it ever been known that kings were not fond of monarchy, or that despotic princes hated arbitrary power?

Everything therefore depends on establishing this love in a republic; and to inspire it ought to be the principal business of education: but the surest way of instilling it into children is for parents to set them an example.

People have it generally in their power to communicate their ideas to their children; but they are still better able to transfuse their passions.

If it happens otherwise, it is because the impressions made at home are effaced by those they have received abroad.

It is not the young people that degenerate; they are not spoiled till those of maturer age are already sunk into corruption. (from here)

What does it mean to be sunk into corruption? How many of us are already sunk into corruption? For decades we have relied upon our government — politicians, men and women ambitious for power — to educate the children of our nation. In doing so we have forgotten what Montesquieu wrote of education in despotic states.

3. Of Education in a Despotic Government. As education in monarchies tends to raise and ennoble the mind, in despotic governments its only aim is to debase it. Here it must necessarily be servile; even in power such an education will be an advantage, because every tyrant is at the same time a slave.

Excessive obedience supposes ignorance in the person that obeys: the same it supposes in him that commands, for he has no occasion to deliberate, to doubt, to reason; he has only to will.

In despotic states, each house is a separate government. As education, therefore, consists chiefly in social converse, it must be here very much limited; all it does is to strike the heart with fear, and to imprint on the understanding a very simple notion of a few principles of religion. Learning here proves dangerous, emulation fatal; and as to virtue, Aristotle cannot think that there is any one virtue belonging to slaves; if so, education in despotic countries is confined within a very narrow compass.

Here, therefore, education is in some measure needless: to give something, one must take away everything, and begin with making a bad subject in order to make a good slave.

For why should education take pains in forming a good citizen, only to make him share in the public misery? If he loves his country, he will strive to relax the springs of government; if he miscarries he will be undone; if he succeeds, he must expose himself, the prince, and his country to ruin. (from here)

In 1838, Abraham Lincoln, then a young lawyer 28 years of age, wrote a fascinating speech on this very subject, The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions: Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838). Here is an excerpt.

I know the American People are much attached to their Government;–I know they would suffer much for its sake;–I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, “how shall we fortify against it?” The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;–let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap–let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;–let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom. (from here)

Patriotism, as Americans once defined it, involved a Christian virtue, love. That is, loving one’s family, friends, and neighbors.

If you have time, I recommend setting aside a bit of that time in honor of the men and women who made the celebration of the 4th of July possible. Please read Lincoln’s entire speech.

THE SPIRIT OF LAWS => HAVE WE BECOME A NATION DEFINED BY HYPOCRISY?

the man behind the mask

Have we become a nation defined by hypocrisy? WHAT IS A HYPOCRITE? Some time ago we consider that question, and so we have defined the term. In WHAT IS A HYPOCRITE?, we considered the temptation our leaders face to become hypocrites. What about us?

When Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu wrote The Spirit of laws, he surveyed the effect of the customs and manners of many Peoples, examining how the customs and manners affected the ability of a people to govern themselves.

What about us? The United States Constitution describes how we should operate as a republic. We pay lip service to that document, but do we do what it says? Have we even bothered to read it?

What powers are our leaders suppose to have? What powers have they illegally seized? Does it make any difference? DOES IT?

Consider the behavior of the citizens of Rome as their republic faded from view. Here Montesquieu describes how Roman people retained the appearance of having a republic without actually having a republican form of government.

3. Of Tyranny. There are two sorts of tyranny: one real, which arises from oppression; the other is seated in opinion, and is sure to be felt whenever those who govern establish things shocking to the existing ideas of a nation.

Dio tells us that Augustus was desirous of being called Romulus; but having been informed that the people feared that he would cause himself to be crowned king, he changed his design. The old Romans were averse to a king, because they could not suffer any man to enjoy such power; these would not have a king, because they could not bear his manners. For though Cæsar, the Triumvirs, and Augustus were really invested with regal power, they had preserved all the outward appearance of equality, while their private lives were a kind of contrast to the pomp and luxury of foreign monarchs; so that when the Romans were resolved to have no king, this only signified that they would preserve their customs, and not imitate those of the African and eastern nations.

The same writer informs us that the Romans were exasperated against Augustus for making certain laws which were too severe; but as soon as he had recalled Pylades the comedian, whom the jarring of different factions had driven out of the city, the discontent ceased. A people of this stamp have a more lively sense of tyranny when a player is banished than when they are deprived of their laws. (from here)

To dominate an increasingly decadent people, Augustus just had to avoid the appearance of what he had in fact become, a tyrant. Contented with what they knew in their hearts to be a facade, the Roman people assented to this farce. Instead the man we now know as Augustus, Gaius Octavius, graciously settled for the the new titles of  Augustus and Princeps (from here).

Eventually, as the tyranny grew in strength, later Roman Caesars declared themselves gods. These demanded worship and sacrifices, making any mere king seem quite reasonable.

Because they had failed to check their own hypocrisy, the Romans under Augustus’ rule condemn their progeny to suffer something far worse than the rule of a king.