Monthly Archives: September 2009

>Living in an Imperial World: Did It Just Get REALLY Hot Here — Under My Skin?

>If things get a little toasty this coming spring as you and your friends are standing at a demonstration exercising your First Amendment speech, assembly, and petitioning rights, this little beauty might be the reason:

Three articles with further operational details:

Details of US Microwave Weapon Tests Revealed

Microwave Weapon Will Rain Pain From the Sky

The Pentagon’s Ray Gun

Your tax dollars at work….

>Denninger: The Banking System is Insolvent

>From Karl Denninger:

Following up on the quick mention now that I have a story to cite from Amherst:

Cure rates for these distressed loans remain low. Amherst noted a near 0% cure rate of all loans in foreclosure, 0.8% for 90 plus days delinquent, 4.4% for 60 days delinquent and 26.5% for 30-day delinquencies. All told, Amherst expects 12.42% of units (from the 13.54% of properties delinquent and in foreclosure) to eventually liquidate.

Let’s put some numbers on this.

There are roughly 125 million single-family homes in the US.

Of those, roughly 30% have no mortgage on them at all. This leaves 87.5 million single-family homes with mortgages.

Let us assume the average outstanding balance is $200,000 across the entire set and will take a 40% loss severity. This is less than S&P has estimated for subprime loans and only assumes a roughly 20% market deficiency in the home price (the rest is from legal, rehabilitation and marketing expenses.)

These numbers are, with a high degree of confidence (90%+) low – that is, losses will exceed these estimates, perhaps dramatically so. It is, for example, quite reasonable to believe that due to the concentration of defaults in higher-priced areas (e.g. California and Florida) that the average outstanding balance could be close to double that $200,000 value and the loss due to negative equity higher.

From this we can develop a “cocktail napkin” view of the losses to be taken in home mortgages for single-family homes (remember, this does not include condos, apartment buildings and similar “commercial” paper.)

$200,000 X 40% = $80,000 loss per foreclosure.

87.5 million homes with mortgages X 12.42% = 10,867,500 foreclosures.

x 80,000

or $869 billion in losses remaining in single-family mortgages alone.

What if the average outstanding is higher and negative equity greater than 20% (which is likely)?

Losses will almost certainly be well north of a trillion dollars.

The entire banking system and likely The Fed, given the quantity of Fannie and Freddie paper it has been and is “eating”, is insolvent. These facts are why the government is lying – they’re well-aware of the near-zero cure rates and know that these facts mean that the banking industry has nowhere near sufficient capital to withstand these losses without folding like a paper cup getting stomped on by an elephant.

(Remember that these numbers do not include any commercial real estate losses and we have found that banks are frequently over-stating their claimed values for these loans by 50% or more – as was seen with Colonial.)

It gets better. The FDIC has a negative balance both in its fund balance and the reserve ratio projected for the end of the quarter, which is, big surprise, tomorrow. Oh, and there is this pesky problem that the FDIC has – contrary to its mandate – been issuing bond guarantees for banks, so if and when that banking insolvency is recognized the FDIC will implode into a gravity well also, since it is on the hook for the entire deficiency of those bonds that were issued with its “guarantee” should they default.

Care to argue with the math, folks?

Interestingly, the link to the FDIC’s negative balance in Denninger’s second-to-final graf above is now dead.


[UPDATE 0835 EDST 30 SEPTEMBER 2009: Link is now live]

But if they were not in the proverbial deep kimchi, why would the FDIC be demanding that member banks pay their premiums up front and in advance through 2012?

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WASHINGTON — Expecting the cost of bank failures to grow to about $100 billion over the next four years, federal regulators voted Tuesday to take the unprecedented step of requiring banks to prepay $45 billion in premiums to replenish an insurance fund that is expected to sink into deficit territory today.

The proposal by the board of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to require early payments of premiums for 2010 to 2012 may take effect after a 30-day public comment period.

“What we are proposing to do is to tap the ample liquidity of the banking industry to improve our own liquidity position without borrowing from the Treasury,” said Sheila Bair, the FDIC’s chairwoman.

The proposal requires the banking industry “to step up” while spreading the financial hit to banks over a number of years, Bair said, adding that an insurance payment by the industry of $45 billion “is not going to constrain lending.”

The FDIC is fully backed by the government, which means depositors’ money is guaranteed up to $250,000 per account, but the agency’s insurance fund has been depleted by a rash of bank failures that began in mid-2008.

Drained by 95 failures this year, the fund had $10.4 billion at the end of the second quarter, equivalent to 0.22 percent of insured deposits. The FDIC is required to rebuild the fund when that so-called reserve ratio falls below 1.15 percent.

Banks failures through 2013 could cost $100 billion, an increase from a $70 billion estimate in May, with half the expenses already incurred, said the FDIC, which projected that without additional special fees or increases in regular premiums, the insurance fund will become “significantly negative” next year and could remain in deficit until 2013…

Green shoots, boys and girls.

Just keep looking for those green shoots.

Careful who steps behind you, though, while you’re searching….

>III Flag Update

>An update on the orders so far:

1) Have processed all orders received as of 12 noon edst on Tuesday. Dispatch of orders to begin tomorrow per below.

Note that one gentleman from OK apparently put in a heavy sheet of paper to screen his cash, but failed to insert either an order or payment. If you know who you are, drop a line to

2) Orders received to date have exceeded quantity of flags on hand. Next load will be in late next week.

3) Orders will be processed roughly on a FIFO basis, with priority given to those who sent cash and/or open (payee left blank) MOs.

4) A number of people sent MOs made out to WRSA. My error in not communicating the situation effectively, but WRSA does not have a bank account, nor will it.

Best I can do for those who sent completed MOs is to fill your orders after the cash and open MOs, including return of your payment (‘cuz I can’t cash or deposit it). Having received and fulfilled your order, it will then be your job — on the honor system — to send either cash or an open MO to the WRSA address, thereby completing the transaction.

Sorry for the hassle, but think of us as a streetcorner band passing a hat to cover expenses, rather than a formal organization with bank accounts, credit cards, et cetera ad tedium.

5) Those interested in getting either your first set of III flags or more to distribute to friends should send either CASH (strongly preferred) or OPEN (PAYEE LEFT BLANK) postal money orders to:

860 Johnson Ferry Road
Suite 140
Atlanta, GA 30342

Price is $10 USD per 3′ x5′ nylon flag with grommets, including return postage.

Turnaround time will be as fast as I can make it, but no promises, other than you will get what you have paid to get.

Email questions to

No refunds, either — you want ’em, you got ’em, as is.

Thanks everyone!

>The Republicans

>At the 9/12 protests and thereafter, many patriotic Americans were discussing both the 2010 and 2012 elections.

The fundamental problem is that while the Dems are utterly in the thrall of the Mighty Kenyan and his Red accomplices, the Republican Party is hardly better.

As a friend is fond of saying, “Today’s Republicans simply want to take the scenic road to serfdom.”

Two essays for your consideration on this topic — read each in full, along with comments, please:

From QandO: The Republicans Are Lost; excerpt:

…But have the Republicans learned nothing from 2006-2009? Has the Tea Party movement made no impact on them? Do they not sense the rising anti-government attitude in voters? Are they so incredibly clueless that they can’t learn the lesson from Reagan’s landslide and the 1994 takeover of Congress?

Look, you idiots: You can win big when you strongly advocate smaller government principles. When you don’t, at best you tread water, and at worst you get your butts kicked.

Watching Cantor pour out the same old politician’s blather was painful. Based on that one video, I never expect to support this guy for anything. And he’s part of the GOP leadership, supposedly the best they’ve got. Well, if he’s one of the best, they’re still as lost as they were in 2006…

From Samizdata comes Asking the Wrong Question; excerpt:

…Until the Big State Tax and Regulate schmucks like McCain, Romney and their entire ilk are explicitly repudiated and figuratively (and in a perfect world, literally) thrown into Boston Harbour, I will tell you what difference re-electing the party that gave the world George Bush (either) will make… No meaningful difference at all.

Obama is the bastard child of the both parties, make no mistake about it. Nothing he is doing now would have been even within the realm of political possibility if the state had not already been vastly expanded with Republicans in the Whitehouse.

No child left behind indeed… they will be paying for this legacy for a very long time.

No one who gives a damn about liberty should even consider supporting the Republicans until they have had a profound and merciless internal blood-letting and made themselves worth voting for by throwing the Big Staters out. They are not even close to that point yet…

After reading both essays and their respective comments, please explain to me — those who disagree — why I say re my former party and political home for 35 years:

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

It took both parties and nearly 30 years to get us to the point Denninger explains here.

Thus, a virulent pox on both their houses.

No more compromises on the issue of limited government and individual freedom.


Alea iacta est.


>Received this link over the transom, asking:

How many Americans are going to die because of the Obama Administration’s foreign policy and national security incompetence?

Key quote:

…“We’ve got to think about giving out cookies,” said Gration, who was appointed in March. “Kids, countries, they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement”…

>Unemployment: The Gathering Storm

>Read this essay by Charles Hugh Smith, then ask yourself:

Is it possible that the entire point of the last year’s “emergency measures” was the creation of a 20-million-person-plus mob for use in bringing about truly radical change?


That couldn’t happen here.

This is America.


More Bezmenov: Soviet Subversion Of The Free World Press

UPDATE 2320 EDT 19 MARCH 2012: Updated title and video links below.

Finally found the full version of the 1985 CBC interview with Soviet KGB defector Yuri Bezmenov on this evening. You’ll recall that we ran an excerpt of this interview here, in which Bezmenov discussed how the KGB planned and executed the transformation of nations it wished to subvert/destroy:

…To change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite of the abundance of information, no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country.

It’s a great brainwashing process which goes very slow, and it is divided in four basic stages. The first one being demoralization. It takes from 15-20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years it takes to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy…

Total run time of the interview is 1:21:28, but if you have high-speed connectivity and the time, I am confident you will find Bezmenov’s insights into the Soviet demoralization/propaganda mechanisms to be relevant, especially here in the early days of the USSA.

For those who prefer text, Useless Dissident has transcribed this program in its entirety (and even included screen shots used in the original program), in three parts:

Interview with Yuri Bezmenov – Part I

Interview with Yuri Bezmenov – Part II

Interview with Yuri Bezmenov – Part III

Those who are interested can buy a DVD of the interview, as well.

There are no new games.

There are only new players.

Tempus fugit.

>Malignant Narcissism

>From Dr. Sanity via New Paltz Journal comes another look into the Mighty Kenyan’s psyche; essential graf:

…All the world’s his stage now–a stage he can use to act out those malignantly narcissistic defects manifested in his cold grandiosity and in his “selfless” devotion to pursuing what the left insists on calling “social justice”; but which in the cold light of reality always turns out to be the pursuit of power over others…

Please read both entries (along with their embedded links), then consider:

Assuming that the perception and political fallout could be properly managed, is there anything this deviant would not do to secure more power for himself and his caste?

UPDATED 2350 EDST 27 SEPTEMBER 2009: See also this piece from the WaPo; author’s central point:

…I can recall no other major American speech in which the narcissism of a leader has been quite so pronounced…

Just wait a month or so, amigo.

>Protest as a National Security Threat

John Robb at his Global Guerrillas blog
posts this CNN video on the use of an LRAD (long-range acoustic device) at the Pittsburgh G-20 Conference with this endorsement:


In general, governments worldwide are losing control over all of the classical forms of national power from borders to finances to communication to media to economic activity to security to trade flows (of all types). The upshot of this accelerating weakness is a tendency to view any and all forms of public protest as a security threat. To counter this perceived threat, an ever increasing number of countries have opted to

  • militarize their police forces (from the 5 fold increase in US SWAT teams over the past decade to China’s new million man paramilitary force),
  • establish rules to neuter expression of dissent (i.e. establishment of “free speech zones” etc.),
  • and the immediate/early application non-lethal weapons (sonic weapons, tasers, tear gas, etc.) to disperse crowds.

This effort will almost undoubtedly generate unintended consequences (we can already see protest groups learning to counter this by using flash mob mobility via cell phones).


Note also near the end of the CNN video that the anti-globalist protesters had real-time streaming video of the action being punched out to the world via the Internet, along with real-time planning info available to all via wireless Web service.

Just wait ’til the Protests of Spring ’10.

Don’t forget your hearing protection.

UPDATED 2345 EDST 27 SEPTEMBER 2009: Instapundit adds:

POLICE VIOLENCE AT THE G20: A law school classmate of mine, Curt Vaszquez, emails:

I just wanted to say that my daughter Martha, a 19 year old sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh, on Thursday night was rousted by police from the school library where she was studying, ordered to leave her belongings behind and herded into the street where she was tear-gassed, sound cannoned and hit by a plexiglass shield for exercising her right to be a young person outdoors on her campus on a pleasant fall night. I suppose I should be grateful because other kids were roughed up much worse by the police that night. This is just one aspect of the G20 that will never receive the attention it deserves. You have no idea how bad it was here.

Also, you might be interested in the linked article in which Pitt’s police chief pats himselfs on the back for his handling of the situation and cynically refers to the victims as “innocents” who chose to put themselves in harm’s way. Note the Chief’s presumption that the police have the right to break up any assembly. Very disturbing.

I regard the G20 protests as idiotic, but that doesn’t excuse police overreaction. Violent protesters deserve to be arrested, but the reaction here does seem to have been excessive.

See also this other link from Insty.

>Bracken’s Latest: "Foreign Enemies and Traitors"

>All I can say is “Wow!”

I knew that the third part of Matthew Bracken’s freedom and firearms trilogy was out, and Tam’s recent review moved it up my reading list.

Picked up a copy today, and am immersed.

The only issue will be getting any sleep tonight.

If you have read his other two novels, then get “Foreign Enemies and Traitors” asap.

If not, start with EFAD, followed by “Domestic Enemies – The Reconquista, followed by FEAT.

Order info for all three here.

>Constitutionalists Are Not The Haters (No Matter Who Says They Are)

>David Codrea’s latest Examiner column is a must-read, as is Mike’s post re a LEO’s recent entry at ARfcom.

Read ’em both in full, please.

>Evans-Pritchard: Money Figures Show There’s Trouble Ahead

>Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in today’s UK Telegraph:

Money figures show there’s trouble ahead

Private credit is contracting on both sides of the Atlantic. The M3 money data is flashing early warning signals of a deflation crisis next year in nearly half the world economy. Emergency schemes that have propped up spending are being withdrawn, gently or otherwise.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Published: 8:48PM BST 26 Sep 2009

Unemployment benefits have masked social hardship unto now but these are starting to expire with cliff-edge effects.The jobless army in Spain will be reduced to €100 a week; in Estonia to €15.

Whoever wins today’s elections in Germany will face the reckoning so deftly dodged before. Kurzarbeit, that subsidises firms not to fire workers, is running out. The cash-for-clunkers scheme ended this month. It certainly “worked”.

Car sales were up 28pc in August, but only by stealing from the future. The Center for Automotive Research says sales will fall by a million next year: “It will be the largest downturn ever suffered by the German car industry.”

Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne warns of “disaster” for Italy unless Rome renews its car scrappage subsidies. Chrysler too will see some “harsh reality” following the expiry of America’s scheme this month. Some expect US car sales to slump 40pc in September.

Weaker US data is starting to trickle in. Shipments of capital goods fell by 1.9pc in August. New house sales are stuck near 430,000 – down 70pc from their peak – despite an $8,000 tax credit for first-time buyers. It expires in November.

We are moving into a phase when most OECD states must retrench to head off debt-compound traps.

Britain faces the broad sword; Spain has told ministries to slash 8pc of discretionary spending; the IMF says Japan risks a funding crisis.

If you look at the sheer scale of global stimulus this year, what shocks is how little has been achieved. China’s exports were down 23pc in August; Japan’s were down 36pc; industrial production has dropped by 23pc in Japan, 18pc in Italy, 17pc in Germany, 13pc in France and Russia and 11pc in the US.

Call this a “V-shaped” recovery if you want. Markets are pricing in economic growth that is not occurring.

The overwhelming fact is that private spending has slumped in the deficit countries of the Anglosphere, Club Med, and East Europe but has not risen enough in the surplus countries (East Asia and Germany) to compensate. Excess capacity remains near post-war highs across the world.

Yet hawks are already stamping feet at key central banks.

Are they about to repeat the errors made in early 2007, and then again in the summer of 2008, when they tightened – or made hawkish noises – even as the underlying credit system fell apart?

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke spoke in April 2008 of “a return to growth in the second half of this year”, and again in July 2008 that growth would “pick up gradually over the next two years”.

He could only have thought such a thing if he was ignoring the money data. Key aggregates had been in free-fall for months.

I cited monetarists in July 2008 warning that the lifeblood of the Western credit was “draining away”. For whatever reason (the lockhold of New Keynesian ideology?) the Fed missed the signal.

So did the European Central Bank when it raised rates weeks before the Lehman collapse, blathering about a “1970s inflation spiral.”

Yes, the money entrails can mislead. The gurus squabble like Trotskyists. But you ignore the data at your peril.

Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research says that US bank loans have been falling at an annual pace of almost 14pc since early Summer: “There has been nothing like this in the USA since the 1930s.”

M3 money has been falling at a 5pc rate; M2 fell by 12pc in August; the Commercial Paper market has shrunk from $1.6 trillion to $1.2 trillion since late May; the Monetary Multiplier at the St Louis Fed is below zero (0.925). In Europe, M3 money has been contracting at a 1pc rate since April.

Private loans have fallen by €111bn since January. Whether you see a credit crunch in Euroland depends where you sit. It is already garrotting Spain. Germany’s Mittelstand says it is “a reality”, even if not for big companies that issue bonds. The Economy Ministry is drawing up plans for €250bn in state credit, knowing firms will be unable to roll over debts.

Bundesbank chief Axel Weber sees no crunch now, yet fears a second pulse of the crisis this winter. “We are threatened by stress from our domestic credit industry through the rise in the insolvency of firms and households,” he says.

Draw your own conclusion. Western central banks will have to “monetize” deficits on a huge scale to stave off debt deflation. The longer they think otherwise, the worse it will be.

Add this economic reality for both the US and the international community to the feckless foreign/defense policy being pursued by the Mighty Kenyan and his minions, and I hope you can see what Vanderboegh was discussing in his “Four Horseman” post last night.

Tempus fugit.

>The Dollar is Dead — Long Live the Renminbi

>From the UK Telegraph:

Sometimes it takes a crisis to restore reason and equilibrium to the world, and so it is with the trade and capital imbalances that were arguably the root cause of the financial collapse of the past two years.

To economic purists, the changes now under way in demand and trade are inevitable, necessary and even desirable. Even so, dollar supremacy and the geo-political dominance of the West are both likely long-term casualties.

One, almost unnoticed, effect of the downturn is that past imbalances in trade and capital flows are correcting themselves of their own volition, the simple consequence of lower demand in once profligate consumer nations.

Current-account surpluses in China, Germany and Japan are narrowing, as are the deficits of the major consumer nations – primarily America, but also smaller profligates such as Britain and Spain.

The key question for G20 leaders as they meet in Pittsburgh is not bankers’ bonuses, financial regulation and other issues of peripheral importance, but whether this correction in trade might be used as the basis for a permanently more balanced world economy.

In direct contradiction of US objectives, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, accuses Britain and America of using the issue of trade imbalances to backtrack on financial reform and bankers’ bonuses. “We should not start looking for ersatz [substitute] issues and forget the topic of financial market regulation,” she said before boarding the plane to Pittsburgh.

To the big export nations, the primary cause of the crisis was Anglo Saxon financiers, whose wicked and avaricious ways created a catastrophe in the financial system, which led to a collapse in world trade. Once bankers are tamed, this one-off shock can be put behind us and the world will return to business as usual.

Blaming bankers is politically popular – Ms Merkel has an election to fight on Sunday – but the idea that the world economy will return to the way it was once this supposed cancer is removed is fanciful.

A seminal shift in behaviour is being forced on the deficit nations where, despite massive fiscal, monetary and financial system support, there is a continuing scarcity of credit and a growing propensity to save. Neither of these two constraints on demand will reverse any time soon.

This, in turn, is forcing change on surplus countries, whether they like it or not. Export-orientated nations can no longer rely on once profligate neighbours to buy their goods. Against all instinct, they are having to stimulate their own domestic demand.

The most startling results are evident in China, where retail sales grew an astonishing 15.4 per cent in August. Fiscal action has succeeded in boosting consumption in Germany, too, despite mistrust of what one German politician has dubbed “crass Keynesianism”.

Unfortunately for him, Germany will have to persist with its Keynesian medicine for some time yet if it is to avoid a collapse back into recession. Tax cuts and perhaps the removal of fiscal incentives to save are essential to the process of supporting domestic demand.

The challenge for a developing nation such as China is a rather different one. In China, the propensity to export and save is driven by an absence of any meaningful social security net, in combination with the legacy of its oppressive one child policy, which has deprived great swathes of the population of children to fall back on for support in old age.

What’s more, most Chinese don’t earn enough to buy the products they are producing, so in what has become the customary path for developing nations, they export the surplus and save the proceeds.

Yet even in China the establishment of a newly affluent, free-spending middle class may now have gained an unstoppable momentum. In any case, the country can no longer rely on American consumers to provide jobs and growth. It needs a new growth model, which means ultimately adopting the
Henry Ford principle that if you want a sustainable market for your products, you have to pay your workers enough to buy them.

These trends – all of which pre-date the crisis but which, out of necessity, are being greatly accelerated by it – will eventually drive a move away from the dollar as the world’s reserve currency of choice. As China takes control of its economic destiny, spends more and saves less, there will be less willingness both to hold dollar assets and to submit to the domestic priorities of US monetary policy.

None of this will happen overnight. Depressed it might be, but US consumption is still substantially bigger than that of all the surplus nations put together. All the same, that the dollar’s reign as the world’s dominant currency is drawing to a close is no longer in doubt.

>Big Fur Hat’s "Put the Text On Pelosi’s Tramp Stamp"

>Continuing our mockery of those who presume to rule America, Big Fur Hat (also just added to the blogroll) brings us his contest to caption SanFranNan’s backside billboard:

We heard the whispers, that we’d reached our nadir, that we were scratching the underside of the bottom of the barrel. Nope. Not even close. Admittedly, this may be a Jitney to hell, but hell isn’t our last stop. We present to you Contest #4. How low can YOU go?

Entries so far (rated a hard PG, at least) in the comments at Big Fur Hat’s place. Make sure you post your suggestions there with the designation “III”.


>The Greatest Theft in History

>From Fighting in the Shade, via Coordinated Illumination:

During the last nine months 9 TRILLION dollars has been created out of thin air and disappeared into the labyrinthine maw of the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States. One would assume that the “owners” of this vast wealth (the taxpayers of the U.S.) would be entitled at the very least to know the identity of the beneficiaries and recipients of this largess. Such an assumption would be wrong! Dear reader, please take the five and one half minutes required to view the following video. By the way, the legislator posing the questions of the representative of the Federal Reserve is a Democrat, Alan Grayson.

The most astonishing part of the video begins at 1 minute 25 seconds:

Audit the Fed, then end the Fed.

With our inattention and passivity, we have let the Bad People do this — to our children, grandchildren, and future generations. As such, we should remember Mr. Zappa’s wisdom:

“If your children ever find out how lame you really are, they’re gonna murder you in your sleep.”

>More III in DC

>Just saw this pic here.

I actually spoke to this lady, and made sure she had a sheaf of Threeper flyers to distribute as people asked “What does ‘III’ mean?

>Bovard: Obama and the Perilous Delusions of Democracy

>From James Bovard:

When Barack Obama was inaugurated on January 20, there was euphoria across the land and millions of people cheered in the streets of Washington. Many people are convinced that American democracy has been redeemed and that the federal government no longer poses a peril to individual rights. Since the people’s choice is now at the helm of the U.S. government, Americans are free.

The Founding Fathers scorned the doctrine that the election of one person could purify or redeem an entire political system. The notion that choosing a supreme leader is the epitome of democracy is the result of philosophical doctrines that spread shortly before the American Revolution.

Early Americans’ thinking on representative government was shaped by the abuses inflicted by the British Parliament. The Sugar Act of 1764 resulted in British officials’ confiscating hundreds of American ships on the basis of mere allegations that the shipowners or captains were involved in smuggling; Americans were obliged, in order to retain their ships, to somehow prove that they had never been involved in smuggling — a near-impossible burden.

The Stamp Act of 1765 obliged Americans to purchase British stamps to be used on all legal papers, newspapers, cards, dice, advertisements, and even academic degrees. After violent protests throughout the colonies, Parliament rescinded the Stamp Act but passed the Declaratory Act, which announced that Parliament “had, hath, and of right ought to have, full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.” The Declaratory Act meant that Parliament had the right to use and abuse the colonists as it chose.

Many American colonists believed that, for them, British representative government was a fraud. The “Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms,” issued by the Second Continental Congress on July 6, 1775, a few weeks after the Battle of Bunker Hill, highlighted the crimes of the British Parliament. (The Declaration of Independence, issued almost a year later, concentrated on King George III as the personification of British abuses.) This Declaration, written by John Dickinson and Thomas Jefferson, complained that “the legislature of Great-Britain, stimulated by an inordinate passion for power … attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these colonies by violence….” The Continental Congress demanded to know, “What is to defend us against so enormous, so unlimited a power? Not a single man of those who assume it, is chosen by us; or is subject to our control or influence…. ”

Freedom and democracy

Americans and British profoundly disagreed on the source of their freedom. Many British believed that freedom depended on vesting unlimited power in Parliament, since they believed the only threat to their freedom came from the king and his lackeys. Sir William Meredith praised the British constitution in 1769 because it was the privilege of the Englishman alone “to choose those delegates to whose Charge is committed the Disposal of his Property, his Liberty, his Life.” In 1768, the speaker of the House of Commons announced, “The freedom of this house is the freedom of this country….” As Professor John Phillip Reid observed in 1988,

This new or “radical” constitutional theory was a departure from the British tradition of defining liberty without having its preservation depend on specific institutions, presaging the nineteenth century and the general British acceptance of what in the eighteenth century had been constitutional heresy — that liberty and arbitrary power are not incompatible, if the power that is arbitrary is “representative.”

Because Parliament supposedly automatically had the concerns of the entire British Empire at heart, Americans were told they had “virtual representation,” regardless of the fact that they could not vote for any member of Parliament. The British claimed that the Americans were free because they were permitted to petition members of Parliament with their grievances, even though their petitions were routinely not accepted or read.

“Slavery by Parliament” was the phrase commonly used to denounce British legislative power grabs. Americans believed that the power of representatives was strictly limited by the rights of the governed, a doctrine later enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Pamphleteer John Cartwright in 1776 derided “that poor consolatory word, representation, with the mere sound of which we have so long contented ourselves.” James Otis, an influential Massachusetts lawyer, asked,

Will any man’s calling himself my agent, representative, or trustee make him so in fact? At this rate a House of Commons in one of the colonies have but to conceive an opinion that they represent all the common people of Great Britain, and … they would in fact represent them.

One New York critic declared in 1775 that it was inconceivable that Americans’ liberty should depend “upon nothing more permanent or established than the vague, rapacious, or interested inclination of a majority of five hundred and fifty eight men, open to the insidious attacks of a weak or designing Prince, and his ministers.”

The influence of Rousseau

At the same time that the Americans were fighting a revolution against the fraud of representation, continental Europe was becoming entranced by a new doctrine. From the 1600s onwards, the abuses of monarchs made representative government increasingly attractive. Unfortunately, at a time when most continental Europeans had scant political experience, the doctrines of Jean Jacques Rousseau swept the intellectual field.

Rousseau’s 1762 book, The Social Contract, merged contemporary romanticism and mysticism with 18th-century political thought. Rousseau gave people an engraved invitation to delude themselves about the nature of majorities, government, and freedom…

Read the rest.

And consider the task at hand.

>Volk on Freedom

>Oleg reminds us again of one of collectivism’s fundamental tactics.

>III Flag Update

>Finally have some time for admin work, so the goal is to get every order received so far ready for dispatch Monday morning.

Pass the word on information for additional orders, would you?


>Two from Professor Hanson

>Via New Paltz Journal:

Sleeping Through Speeches

Barack Obama, College Administrator

Each is well worth your time, especially for shedding light on the upcoming 40 months.