Madison’s ‘child’ was nearly stillborn

James Madison, often referred to as the “father of the constitution”, nearly killed that child in birthing it. His insistence on three key components of the “Virginia plan” (1) brought the convention to the brink of dissolution. Only Roger Sherman’s alternate suggestion (2) ‘saved the day’.

The information in the footnotes below reveal elements of the deep and divisive discord so often ignored these days in discussions of the constitution. Compare the Madison plan to the Sherman plan in the context of contemporary discussion, and it becomes painfully evident that the “Federalists” won the battle for the meaning of the constitution.

Our constitution today is treated as a guideline for governing — not, as was originally intended, as a document grudgingly creating a federal authority and serving as a document to strictly limit said authority to a ‘minarchial’ role, the bulk of authority resting with the sovereign states whose autonomy predated even the Declaration of Independence.

The rot is so deep and engrained (having spread relentlessly and insidiously for more than 200 years, only recently accelerating its pace) that only the several states can restrain it by exercising their originally intended sovereignty. No branch of the federal government has the ability to do so, nor the willingness, if truth be told. It remains to be seen if the states have the will, demanded by the people and exercised by their governments.

If we, the people, wish to restore the Founders’ vision of liberty, it is up to us to do so at the local, county, and state levels, independent and sovereign from Washington City’s fever swamp on the Potomac.

I doubt that Mr Madison would be comfortable with the monstrosity his federal government has become; I am sure that I am not.


(1) membership in both federal legislative houses determined by population; national legislature having veto power on any state legislation; and — least popular of all — national legislature empowered to legislate whenever it deemed a state incompetent or its legislation “disharmonious”

(2) objects of union strictly limited to only: defense against foreign danger; control of internal disputes and disorders; treaties; foreign commerce and its derived revenue

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Growing up ‘unsupervised’

When I was a child in Lumberton, NC (ages 5-11), I often left home after breakfast, and did not return until lunch … sometimes until supper. I played all over our neighborhood, and occasionally beyond. I hopped freight trains that came by near our house and rode them back and forth to Red Springs or Raeford. I swam in the swift-flowing Lumber River, and in moccasin-infested White Lake and Lake Waccamaw. I went fishing on Scarborough’s Pond without a life vest. I rode my bike without a helmet, attached pieces of line to the handlebars to simulate reins, and often rode behind the DDT truck in its cloud of oily insecticide spray. I smoked “rabbit tobacco” and played with my green army men (occasionally setting brush fires to better simulate a combat environment .

We moved to Greensboro, NC in 1959. Our house sat in the middle of Mr. Benjamin’s cow pasture. I played with the estate caretaker’s son Bill in the field, and wandered through the woods — sometimes all day — accompanied by my faithful dachshund. I smoked real tobacco, and drank liquor when I could get it, with a definite preference for “corn”. I hunted and fished on my own, or with a friend, often trading my services shooting crows out of a cornfield in exchange for hunting privileges. Old Mr. Case’s wife would feed me country ham from the smokehouse and scratch biscuits off her wood stove.

If I were to do today at 8 or 12 what I did back then at those ages, I would be hauled in by Child Protective Services and my parents would be indicted. My parents were strict, God-fearing Southern Democrats of the highest moral standing, and they saw to it that we knew right from wrong, and acted accordingly. Yes, I transgressed, but never without guilt and at least an attempt to do better. It is not as though they did not care; they just knew that children need to be taught how to behave, and then be given the opportunity to learn from and act on that teaching.

Our modern era has produced in our society the belief that risk is not a part of life, rather something to be controlled by government, acting to protect us from every possible bad outcome. Government, so far removed from us by comparison, cannot function as a parent. It does not take a village — much less a nation — to raise a child.

Reference [caution: Faux News alert!] : Student Punished for Saying “Bless you”

Reference: Punishing Independence

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Yes, my blog name has changed. Yes, it is a shameless homage. Yes, there is a purpose.

After years of writing about all kinds of subjects that many other people address also — many far better than I — it finally occurred to me that part of my lack of ‘success’ (measured in terms of readership and feedback, neither of which are very good bellwethers) might be attributed to scope.

In the ‘political’ area, I have spent a lot of time talking about issues of the day in general (global) terms. In the future, I shall endeavor to think, act, and write more locally in the belief that any change we might actually bring about must come from the ground up.

This is the reason for the name change (well, that and it’s just a serendipitous play on words). One of many things that I have come to realize after reading more from John Taylor of Caroline, VA is that even though I knew all along that our ‘federal’ system was particularly corrupt, and that all governments conform to Lord Acton’s warning, while I may offer insight into the woes from the Maryland fever swamp, I have no real means of correcting even the least of them. On the other hand, I might be able to make a personal change on which I can build. From personal to local, from local to county, from county to state, from state to federal … at least in theory.

Regardless of how much I actually accomplish, at least I’ll stay in my own wheelhouse, writing about things that affect me personally, and things from my life that relate to larger issues. We shall see how it goes.

So settle back, and let’s see where this iteration takes us.

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I Will Not Defend You

I have thought about this for a long time, and I believe it’s necessary to share my thoughts with you, in the interest of education and full disclosure.

First, some background.

I believe that defense of self and others is a ‘natural right’ — a biological imperative, if you will.

Such a fundamental imperative does not require approval from any person or group of persons. No individual or group has the authority to deny me the right to self-defense.

Any limitation on that right is an intolerable infringement.

I will use any tool that I — and I alone — deem essential to enhancing and preserving that right., without restriction, limitation, or infringement by any individual or group. This is the essence of man’s competitive advantage in the animal kingdom.

Now, to the point.

Because these truths stated above are self-evident to me, it is my intent to keep and bear such tools as I consider essential to my environment, regardless of statute or ordinance.

Because there are statutes and ordinances that infringe on my right, I am forced to “break the law” to do so. Lex iniusta non est lex.

Because I put myself in jeopardy — both of liberty and life — by breaking these laws, I am forced to make some hard decisions.

And here’s the nut. As long as we, as citizens, allow such laws to rule us, we live in peril. Because I see no real probability that such laws will be overthrown, we, as citizens, are complicit in their continued unjust execution.

Because I refuse to acknowledge them as just, and as long as I perceive that you generally do, a gulf arises between me and you with regard to my obligations to assist you if you are in peril.

Therefore, I hereby serve notice that, with a few limited exceptions, if you and I find ourselves in a situation where our lives are threatened by criminal act, I will not defend you. As far as I know, you have accepted the servitude that comes with obeying unjust laws without protest or resistance. Therefore, I have no obligation to defend you.

I will instead take every action I am able to protect myself and others I choose to protect, but I will go no further. Until such time as you stand with me in rejecting obedience to governments of those who seek to control you, you are on your own.

I am truly sorry to have to make these decisions, and I pray for your safety. But any other course would be maladaptive.

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Bovine Excrement

So, I read an article here in which

Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of NYAGV [said] “Our strong gun-safety laws are the reason why New York has the fourth lowest gun death rate in the nation.”

I thought that sounded funny, so I fact-checked it. Here’s what I found: three sources, three different data sets, three different conclusions.


The Kaiser Family Foundation

CBS News

How can this be? Well, it’s simple. Just as with polls, the outcome favors the opinion of the organization which paid for it. I picked these three semi-deliberately, as each might be said to have slightly different views of ground truth. And sure enough, their ‘results’ are widely disparate.

[The lists are interactive, so I did not present or compare conclusions; carve away on your own for deeper insights. I leave it to you, gentle reader, to separate the wheat from the chaff.]

Now had I gone to Bloomberg or the NRA, I’m sure my experience would have been similarly contradictory. And even if you examine peer-reviewed studies, you still have to examine and consider possible bias on the part of the funding agency.

One final note: the Wikipedia article drew their data from FBI reports and the official population data from each state; Kaiser from the CDC; and CBS from the National Center for Health Statistics — for whatever that’s worth. Goodness knows where Leah Gunn Barrett drew her data.

Trust, but verify, as we used to say in the trade.

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Blogs I follow [list updated periodically, now trimmed considerably, due more to reader bloat than objection to content -- I left visible those I am not currently following because they may prove useful to you]:

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Just What Are “Rights”?

There’s a lot of talk about “rights” on both sides of the fence these days, and all over the farm as well. In fact, “rights” seem to be as numerous as pasture pies on a cattle ranch. So I (in my infinite lack of both wisdom and discretion), have taken upon myself the task of sorting out what we mean by “rights” — not so much from a philosophical viewpoint as from a practical one.

Here’s how I understand it: by “right”, we mean nothing more than the personal power to act in a certain way, regardless of law or custom. “Rights”, then, supersede the laws and rules of man. By this strict interpretation, there are really very few actual “rights”. Chief among these is the right to life. It is simple biological logic that an entity must do what is necessary to survive immediate threat to life; i.e. all organisms have a biological imperative to actively defend themselves against the threat of assault, enslavement, and death. (In this view, the right to liberty is a subset of the right to life.)

Each organism possesses tools — organic or otherwise — that improve or enhance its ability to defend itself. Man, lacking the embedded physical attributes necessary for self-defense, has developed both the wits and the tool-making skills that enhance not only his survival skills, but also his ability to become dominant in his environment. While far from perfect, these skill sets are all that stand between man the primate and an abruptly truncated branch on the old mammalian family tree.

These days we hear all kinds of people saying that no right is absolute. I believe these people are thinking of what I have to call “legal rights”, rather than “natural rights”. It should be clear to any sentient being that the right to life as described above is not only absolute, but is immune to any kind of infringement. And because of this, certain tools wielded by man are so essential to his survival that the right of self-defense (the right to life) accrues to them by extension.

To “infringe” on a right is to impair it, through any means, be it direct or indirect. Rulers (aka slavers) understand that power, however gained, is nothing more than control of individual rights. And any form of control of individual rights must, of necessity, infringe on them. This is the dilemma for libertarians. They cannot be minarchists without accepting infringement. Yet the NAP (or, as L. Neil Smith prefers, ZAP) does not allow such. So the Libertarian Party finds itself organizationally hoist by its own petard.

Some common examples of rights are found in the first ten amendments to the US Constitution. The litmus test for whether or not something is a right is to ask oneself if the right benefits oneself without infringing on the exercise of the rights of others.

Regardless of one’s belief system, individual rights are, by definition, adaptive and necessary for survival. The biological imperative for defense of self is self-evident, and any attempt to limit its efficiency is maladaptive. Any “reasonable” being understands that instinctively, and any argument to the contrary is not only faulty on its face, but speaks loudly to the ultimate ulterior motive — that of “control” of others. And such control is clearly slavery.

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