Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

Source: Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School

The Battle of Tours

It seemed that Muhammed and his successors did not understand that “Jihad” meant internal struggle over oneself and that “Islam” meant “peace” and the meaning of “submission” was one’s own submission to Allah. They apparently thought “Jihad” meant real war against unbelievers, using real swords and spears, leaving real dead and mutilated bodies in its wake and the “submission” was forcing those not in Islam to submit to it. But what did they know? They only founded the religion or followed in the footsteps of the founder.

Need another Charles Martel to hammer the Moslem nail… hammer it all the way to Mecca.

Source: The Battle of Tours

Soldier of Fortune: John Smith before Jamestown

Mercenary, pirate, Turkish slave…

Most of what we know about Smith’s life before Jamestown comes from his The True Travels, Adventures, and Observations of Captaine John Smith (1630). He provides such a daredevil account of his life that critics have sometimes accused him of exaggerating his exploits. But by comparing Smith’s own account with letters and documents of the time, scholars such as biographer Philip Barbour have confirmed his story and clarified it. It is an amazing story.

Source: Soldier of Fortune: John Smith before Jamestown

The Cost of Bad Intentions

Shriver and like-minded policymakers designed programs far more ambitious than those of the New Deal liberalism that had characterized the Democratic Party since Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s election in 1932. Though the New Deal vastly expanded the government safety net, it still recognized a connection between work and upward mobility and viewed government’s role as that of a temporary helper when someone was truly down and out. The officials behind the War on Poverty, by contrast, saw the poor as powerless, crushed by economic and cultural forces that could be overcome only with massive government help. Instead of temporary aid, welfare would now be a right, which the poor were entitled to receive, and benefits became far more generous, so that, by the late 1970s, welfare payments and other government aid now brought in about as much money as low-wage work.

Read the whole thing.

Source: The Cost of Bad Intentions

Navigating to the Moon — Remembering the Apollo Sextant

The Apollo sextant was used in Earth and lunar orbit, as well as while en route between Earth and the Moon. It played different roles in each of those contexts: in orbit around Earth or the Moon, the sextant could be used to compute the spacecraft’s altitude and position; whereas in transit between Earth and the Moon, it could be used to compute the spacecraft’s attitude (orientation), position, and velocity. A proper attitude during the flight to and from the Moon was critical for accurate course corrections and burns to reach the Moon and correctly insert the spacecraft into the desired lunar orbit. The device was used repeatedly throughout the Apollo program across many phases of the missions, up to and including re-entry.

Pretty impressive advanced technology! Also shows how the basics will never be outdated.

Source: Navigating to the Moon — Remembering the Apollo Sextant

History and the High Price of Forgetting

The reason we study history is because certain patterns repeat themselves. And this is where our education system has been failing us so terribly for decades, in part because of “multiculturalism.” Circa 1990, it became fashionable to condemn the teaching of history in our society as too “Eurocentric” and this academic trend, along with a general contempt for “dead white males,” had the effect of demoting the study of the history of our own culture in favor of “inclusive” history about African, Asian and Latin American societies. But this involves a misunderstanding of why we study history at all. The peasant living under a hereditary monarchy, or a goat-herder in a nomadic tribal society, would have no use for the study of history. In a non-democratic polity, it is only the leadership caste which has need to study history, as a guide to statecraft. However, in a republic, where every citizen is eligible to participate in the decision-making process — at the very least, as a voter — the study of history as part of a general education becomes much more important. How are we to participate intelligently in politics if we don’t know history? And the reason we study ancient Greece and Rome, rather than the Mayans or the Chinese or some other culture, isn’t because of racism or “Eurocentrism.” It’s because Greco-Roman civilization produced the earliest models for representative government, and because these civilizations left behind a written record, including such valuable resources as Thucydides.

At the beginning he asks “Have you ever read Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War?” Yes, I have. I also recommend it.

Source: History and the High Price of Forgetting