Ramirez Cartoon: Never Forget the Price of Freedom
Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.
Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez.
We interrupt this Thanksgiving to consider the opening portion of Ronald Reagan’s first official Thanksgiving Proclamation as president, in the midst of a recession, when things looked bleak:
America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to god for all of His blessings.
On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well-being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.
In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understand that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do sass individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.
Please note the bolded portion. Also note that charity was a private affair, not something done at the confiscatory force of a government gun. Let us commit ourselves to giving not just thanks but alms of the right sort, through private initiative. And let us pray that government does not interfere with such good works by trampling the freedoms with which faith-based groups use their own initiative to provide aid according to the dictates of their own consciences.
Daniel Henninger has an absolutely superb column today at the Wall Street Journal about how Rick Santorum finally is hitting consistently on, and doing well with, a central theme of freedom. As readers here know, this (freedom, not Santorum’s embrace of it) has been my theme as well. As in:
If ObamaCare is allowed to stand, Cuccinelli said, “The government’s power to intrude on our lives for our ‘own good’ will be virtually unlimited. Some may be willing to put up with that now, when the government is doing something they like. But what happens when it starts to impose things on them that they don’t like? Then, it will be too late…. In 1788, James Madison spoke of the need for the Constitution. He said, ‘There are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.’ Yes, parts of our health care system need to be fixed…. But there are better solutions than giving up our freedom.”
Actually, way back in 2007 I was arguing the same thing — and even back then, it was the argument against the individual mandate that spurred my “theme is freedom” insistence:
The other day on MSNBC, the inimitable Tucker Carlson was being berated by some guests who were incredulous that he could even think to oppose the health-insurance mandates that are central to the newest version of Hillarycare.
At first sounding almost apologetic, but by the last word sounding more firm about it, Carlson mounted what actually is the perfect defense. “Look,” he said, “I just happen to believe in freedom.”
Ah, yes, freedom. At my Episcopal grade school, we were accustomed to singing a guitar hymn in chapel whose refrain included these lines: “The thought it was so dear to me, the daring possibility, of freedom. (Oh, oh, freedom. Oh, oh, freedom. Oh, oh, oh.)”
Conservatives would do well to remember that freedom is indeed a daring possibility, and our best defense against almost every big-government, nanny-state, Washington-knows-best scheme of the left. In one sense, it is the answer to all questions, the solution to almost all problems of statecraft, the ideal to which all other civic ideals must bow.
All too often, we conservatives get lost in the weeds of complex arguments and wonkish debates — when all we really need to remember, both to better ground ourselves philosophically and to win political debates in the minds of the American voters, is that the theme is freedom.
Matt Welch of Reason magazine has a wonderfully critical review of New York Times columnist’s Tom Friedman’s newest paean to government action, That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. In a wide-ranging essay that faults as well NYT columnist David Brooks and CNN contributor (and one-time Bush speechwriter) David Frum for their simplistic preference for more government power to fix all that ails America, Welch explains how the ‘do-something’ crowd endangers freedom.
First, a definition:
Do something. Is there a two-word phrase in politics more loaded with disguised ideological content? Embedded within is both an urgent call for powerful government action and an up-front declaration that the policy details don’t matter. The bigger the crisis, the more the urgency, the sparser the detail.
Try as its cheerleaders might, there is nothing essentially new about ‘do-something’-ism:
As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent pointed out in response to Miller, “many of those calling for a third party are refusing to reckon with an inconvenient fact: One of the two partiesalready occupies the approximate ideological space that these commentators themselves are describing as the dream middle ground that allegedly can only be staked out by a third party. That party is known as the ‘Democratic Party.’ ” By dreaming up a third way to deliver ideas and rhetoric already associated with Barack Obama, the centrists are making the implicit admission that the president is ineffectual in the face of GOP intransigence.
As usual, claimants for a ‘third way’ are really just calling for a formula that results in an overall subtraction of individual freedom:
Fortunately for Brooks—and unfortunately for us—there is a distinct third way. Though vague on details, it involves increased taxes (especially on energy), short-term spending boosts, long-term entitlement cuts, and roughly the same foreign policy commitments as today. It calls for renewed citizen engagement, a return to political civility, and a rejection of coarse cynicism. Better teachers, trained workers, and cleaner air. Although advocated by pundits from all over the traditional political spectrum, the program is remarkably uniform when it comes to giving the government more power. Just don’t call it ideological.
Read the entire piece, here.
It’s as clear a statement of what works (and what doesn’t) in providing economic growth and well-being as you’ll find. It’s a guide to not only the rightness but the utility of freedom. And it can be viewed in the time it takes to wait for a stoplight to change. It’s the new video from the good folks (yes, we’re not afraid to say it) at the Charles Koch Foundation. The only thing wrong with this project? That there aren’t more videos like this one:
Remember the line that President Obama used so often to soothe the anxieties of Americans worried about healthcare reform? “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it”? Well, things have gotten a litte more complicated since those earlier, more innocent days. Just ask Joel Ario, the HHS bureaucrat charged with overseeing Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges. According to The Hill’s Healthwatch Blog:
“If it plays out the exchanges work pretty well, then the employer can say ‘This is a great thing. I can now dump my people into the exchange and it would be good for them, good for me,’ ” Ario continued.
A kindly reminder from those of us not serving in the Obama healthcare politburo. If, like the majority of Americans, your employer provides your healthcare, you don’t get to choose whether or not you keep your current healthcare. And the government is putting its hand on the scales.
If drawing a word picture of the increasingly uncivil unrest in the Middle East – and especially Egypt – the image would be dominated by the words “democracy,” “protest,” “youth,” and “change,” among others. If the on-the-ground reporting and television pictures are to be believed, the one word uniting these themes is “hope.” Specifically, hope in an end to corrupt government that robs people of wealth and ambition, as well as freedom and justice.
Writers of all stripes are focusing on the importance of President Barak Obama’s administration to ‘get it right’ on its position towards the protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Algeria, Lebanon, and Jordan. To date, Obama’s only foreign policy precedent in this realm is the lack of solidarity he showed towards pro-reform forces in Iran. Could this week’s much wider conflagration see the implosion of Obama’s claim to be the worldwide symbol of change-hope-youth-democracy-uplift?
The complicating factor in all this is an American strategic interest that supports secular dictators over Islamist radicals. Continuing that choice makes sense if those are the only options, but the remarkable thing about the protests is that Islamist groups (like Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood) are not (yet) at the forefront of the movements. Right now, it seems like most people are rebelling against the type of Mafioso government that keeps vast swaths of citizens repressed.
If nothing else, the knowledge and skill required at this level of foreign policy should serve as a warning to any 2012 presidential contenders (including the man likely to want a second term). In these situations, you only get one chance to make the right decision, so you’d better be prepared.
One of the selling points for “universal” health care is the notion it carries of making treatment available to everyone. That’s (somewhat) true, but when government-run health care displaces private companies, something else gets tossed out too: privacy.
According to a notice published in the Federal Register last month, President Barack Obama’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will be launching a new health-related database that adds to new data sets to one representing federal workers: private citizens who report pre-existing health conditions or use one of the newly created regional exchanges for pooled health insurance. That information will be made available to any government agency, law enforcement group, or third party researcher that shows a need for it.
What gives OPM the right to collect and disseminate such sensitive health records? The passage and implementation of ObamaCare.
Charles Krauthammer’s recent column heralding the demise Obama’s legislative agenda contained a paragraph that deserves mention:
Over the next two years, the real action will be not in Congress but in the bowels of the federal bureaucracy. Democrats will advance their agenda on Obamacare, financial reform and energy by means of administrative regulation, such as carbon-emission limits imposed unilaterally by the Environmental Protection Agency.
No doubt, there will be many battles to fight in Congress against enactment of more freedom-killing policies, but voters, activists, and politicians should remember that the threat to liberty only accelerates once the federal bureaucracy gets involved. OPM is just the most recent example.
Unless you’re looking for it there isn’t much stateside coverage of the political revolution going on in Britain under the country’s Coalition Government. The stories that to poke through, however, are well worth the read, as is this article in today’s Christian Science Monitor. A sample:
The final sight – and this is the most difficult to see – is the coalition’s attempt to create a “big society,” or a bolstering of social groups, charities, and entrepreneurs to step in as government withdraws from much of its role. The best example of this altering of Britain’s social fabric are preparations to enlist 16-year-olds into national volunteer service.
The big society is Cameron’s vision, one that assumes people are ready to shed decades of dependency on London and step in to help others.
The concept could be almost as difficult as the biggest of the budget cuts, due in October, which will test the coalition’s finely woven political compromises. And will the private sector be ready to fill the holes left by the cuts.
So, the biggest gamble in the Coalition Government’s plan to reduce the size of England’s central bureaucracy isn’t the “austere” budget reductions or even the controversial referendum to change a century’s worth of election law. It’s whether Prime Minister David Cameron’s “Big Society” program can inspire enough of the private sector to step into the social services breach created by the receding government.
American conservatives and libertarians have long said that private charity and other civil society institutions are much better at creating a social safety net. With Britain’s budget forcing policy makers into decisions they would never dream of implementing in good economic times, now is the moment for limited government types to seize the opportunity to deliver a better, more efficient version of the social safety net. Otherwise, liberals and socialists will be quick to remind voters of all the needs that went unaddressed when government grew “too small.”
While it may mark me a heretic to praise both an Englishman and a Liberal Democrat on the eve of the eve of the Fourth of July, I hope my recent paean to Everyday Americans evens the ledger.
I think it has to be said that Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is the most fascinating politician in the English-speaking world. Unlike his rival for that title in the United States, Clegg has already made a positive contribution to the politics of his country.
Yesterday, Clegg announced the launch of a government website called “YourFreedom.” It’s part of Clegg’s commitment to radically reduce the size of government in Britain in a direct reversal of the Labour Party’s thirteen years of increasing control of nearly everything Brits do.
I’d tell you more about it, but Clegg does better than I ever could:
Yesterday, the UN General Assembly announced the results of the election for the open seats on the Human Rights Council. There were 14 seats available and 14 member-states seeking election, automatically demonstrating how much of a sham this institution is. A report by Freedom House indicated that of those 14 nations, an incredible nine have human rights records that are questionable or simply not qualified.
The UN Resolution establishing the Council states among other things that:
…the Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner…
…the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon…
…Make recommendations to the General Assembly for the further development of international law in the field of human rights…
This organization will now be guided by the enlightened leadership of Libya, Angola, Mauritania, Qatar and Malaysia, the five new members with human rights records of “Not Qualified”. What makes one unqualified to be a leader in the field of human rights you ask? According to Freedom House, here’s just a taste:
Angola: “Lengthy pretrial detention is common, and prisoners are subject to torture, severe overcrowding, sexual abuse, extortion, and a lack of basic services”
Libya: “Political parties have been illegal for more than 35 years and organizing or joining anything akin to a political party is punishable by long prison terms and even the death sentence”
Malaysia: “Religious freedom is restricted in Malaysia, as practicing a version of Islam other than Sunni Islam is prohibited”
Hypocrisy of this magnitude has always been rampant on the international scene. This is but a reminder of the level of compromise required for everyone to get along. Read the Freedom House report and remember why America is exceptional.
Thank heaven for the Salt Institute! Surely the Framers of the First Amendment and America’s first sociologist, Alexis de Tocqueville, would appreciate collections of individuals banding together to inform the public – and the government – of the benefits of salt. With today’s headlines proclaiming an FDA crackdown on sodium in food, now is the time to read about salt, its uses and benefits and the current issues in focus.
True, the assault on individual freedom and responsibility by the Obama Administration is startling, as evidenced by this quote from one of its friends in academe:
Most salt eaten by Americans — 77 percent — comes from processed foods, making it difficult for consumers to limit salt to healthy levels, experts say.
“We can’t just rely on the individual to do something,” said Cheryl Anderson, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who served on the Institute of Medicine committee. “Food manufacturers have to reduce the amount of sodium in foods.”
Of course what she really means is making food manufacturers reduce the amount of sodium in foods by federal fiat. This kind of bureaucratic paternalism will only be made easier with implementation of ObamaCare. But as long as there are industries willing to energetically (and stylishly) present consumers and policy makers with resources from organizations like the Salt Institute, the Republic – and sanity – stands a chance.