In an interview with Parade magazine, Winfrey said America could “fall in love” with the former Alaska governor as a television personality, at least based on her reality show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” But Winfrey, the queen of talk-show TV, said she didn’t really know Palin personally and wasn’t sure if she would run for president in two years, CNN said.
Does the prospect of a conservative Palin candidacy frighten Winfrey? Parade asked. “It does not scare me because I believe in the intelligence of the American public,” she replied, somewhat ambiguously.
I have detected two broad attitudes toward America among American liberals, the first (and hopefully largest) contingent believes the United States to be a flawed, but fixable country, which is only occasionally responsible for problems abroad. They know that not all evil is caused by the policies of our government or the economic interests of our corporations. Many of them believe that the U.S. can often be a force for good, offsetting its occasional misdeeds and counteracting the crimes of various tyrants and would-be despots. Those who agitate for action in Darfur are examples of such liberals.
These folks means well and do not define their worldview by a hatred of their native land.
There are others who attempt to tie all world evil back to the policies of the United States government and its (in their view) subsidiary corporations. Michael Moore comes to mind as an example of this kind of letie.
Two weeks ago, there was an Asia Society screening of a UN documentary about the trial of Comrade Duch, who ran one of the Khmer Rouge’s most infamous political prisons. Two women became upset during the Q&A session (about 37:00 into the linked video) that all this talk about torture and killing fields and retribution and memories of the dead had not been presented “in context.” You can guess what they meant, can’t you? That’s right: Big, Bad America had been an enabler for Pol Pot and his fellow-travelers, and apparently that was what we should have been getting worked up about.
What is it about such people that they always have to blame the United States? They have easily earned an epithet often offered to gay conservatives: self-hating.
Yet, in their case, the epithet is not a smear with no basis in reality, but a real description of their own attitudes toward the nation that protects their freedom to criticize it.
Good evening everyone from Music City, USA. If you follow me on Twitter you know that PatriotPartner and I are on vacation in Nashville, TN.
Our normal Nashville trip is in June for the CMA MusicFest. But we decided to come during Christmastime because of Garth Brooks. Garth is having a series of charity concerts to raise money for victims of the historic floods that hit Middle TN this past May.
Tonight is the concert for us, but Garth will have had about 20 shows over 10 days when it’s all done. News reports say the effort has raised over $3.5 million.
Thanks Garth. And Merry Christmas Nashville!!
I haven’t been in much of a mood to blog lately, perhaps it’s the let-down from finishing my Ph.D, perhaps the rain has made me pensive (in the reflective, not melancholy connotation of the word). (Or perhaps, it’s just wanting to crack the stack of books unrelated to my dissertation that has accumulated.)
Unlike yours truly, she did not favor repeal, but castigates those who contend it will destroy our armed forces:
Why is it so unbelievable that the military would be able to figure out the best way to implement homosexuals serving openly? As the wife of a Marine, I find it deeply insulting to our men and women currently serving with honor to suggest that the mere addition of gay men and women will somehow make our entire military crumble. Understand this: the vast majority of heroes in uniform are better than that. The few that are not won’t last. . . .
Our troops have overcome much worse than the repeal of DADT, and given time, they’ll adapt and overcome this too. It’s too bad that we can’t have the faith in them that they have earned, and so richly deserve.
Read the whole thing. I mean that. Just read the whole thing. (Did someone nominate her for Grande Conservative Blogress Diva?)
In a year’s time, I predict, the lifting of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy to allow gays to serve openly in the military will have become a non-event. The military will adjust, as it always does, sooner or later, to social trends. The military rules that now govern relations between men and women will be extended to gays. There will undoubtedly be issues of sexual harassment and sexual relations and sexual tensions to handle — just as there are today. But handle them the military will.
Again, read the whole thing. It’s short. Both writers, like the bloggers here, have strong respect for our military. The men and women who can confront terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan can accommodate gays in their ranks.
In the wake of Senate passage of DADT, the folks at AOL asked me to write a piece on what’s next for gays. In my piece, I looked at the process of repeal and the prospects for gay influence in the 112th Congress:
Despite all the hullabaloo over Senate passage of legislation repealing the Clinton-era “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring gays from serving openly in the U.S. armed forces, gay men and lesbians will still have to wait a bit before being able to serve openly, to say nothing of making progress on other legislative fronts.
“After President Obama signs the legislation,” reports AP national security writer Robert Burns, “the Pentagon must still certify to Congress that the change won’t damage combat readiness.” That provision likely secured the support of the two most junior Republicans in the Senate, Massachusetts’ Scott Brown and Illinois’ Mark Kirk, both men with a record of military service.
But this has many wondering how the armed forces will proceed with implementing the policy.
You can read the rest here.
In her thoughtful post on a new gay group called “Equality Matters” (wish someone had instead created “Freedom Matters”), Ann Althouse gets at one reason, I believe, Democrats tried to keep DADT repeal on the back burner:
The Democratic Party gets a political advantage by looking like a repository of hope. But would gay people continue to favor Democrats if the Democrats actually followed through and satisfied those hopes? There’d be some gratefulness, but — unless Republicans succumb to the temptation to say mean things — wouldn’t gay people melt into the general population and, from that point on, vote based on what they thought about economic policies, national defense, environmental issues and so forth? Achieving equality would liberate gay people in may ways, but one of those ways would be that they could vote for Republicans if they agreed with them about issues other than gay rights issues.
She’s onto something. Just read the whole thing. And as usual, the comments, if you have a moment, are worth your while.
Wise though this blogress diva may be, she leaves out two things (1) the extreme partisanship of many gay activists and leaders who insist that adopting left-wing politics is part and parcel of the coming out experience (lest you remian a “self-hating” homosexual) and (2) the amorphous nature of the idea of “achieving equality” (what does that mean?).
Despite the numerous bills the California legislature has passed at the behest of “Equality California,” that gay auxiliary of the California Democratic Party keeps lobbying for more laws, either mandating more state spending or encroaching ever more on the liberties of individuals and private (and public) associations.
Better than focus on this amorphous notion of equality which seems to require an ever-expanding state, let’s instead focus on protecting our liberty — or in the case of America today, rescuing that liberty from those who seek to take it away in order to further “social justice” (another amorphous concept).
Last week (on the advice of a legendary Hollywood producer of kids’ television), I watched the latest (and, despite reports, not last) Disney princess movie, Tangled. It was wonderfully Disney, very sweet, very touching and often very funny (e.g., the scene in the “Snuggly Duckling”).
Perhaps, I enjoyed it more because I imagined how my soon-to-be three-year-old niece would love it, recalling how her face lit up when each of the Disney princesses came up to our table at Ariel’s Grotto in Disney’s California Adventure this past July. I wondered that she, like her sister and each of her cousins once did, is going through this princess phase, getting all goofy over such Disney movies and dressing up in regal regalia.
It’s not just my nieces. On Saturday, Glenn Reynolds, linking an insightful piece by Virginia Postrel wrote that his “4-year-old niece is getting a princess costume for Christmas, because that’s what she’s into these days.” “Why,” Postrel asks, “in a society without princesses, does this archetype remain so intensely glamorous to girls with all sorts of backgrounds and personalities?” Great question. I’m not quite sure the answer, but I will note that it has been fun watching my nieces go through the princess phase while their brothers and male cousins invariably pass through the superhero phase.
In an earlier thread, a reader brings up a legitimate beef regarding the treatment of gay and lesbian servicemembers in a post-DADT world. His concern stems from a situation that happened when he was on active duty in the Navy:
It’s been my experience observing Gay sailors when I was in the Navy, that they’re perfectly fine when they’re sober. When they get drunk, they let it all hang out.
One guy [presumably* one of these gay sailors] on our ship got wasted, and decided to suck off some guy who was sleeping in his bunk. Needless to say, when the guy woke up he was rather upset. Created a huge stir on our ship for weeks.
But because of PC attitudes, even way back in the early 1980s, the Gay guy only got a slap on the wrist.
Now, I can’t speak for the commentor’s leaders, but I will say that military commanders (especially aboard a ship) normally exercise a great deal of latitude in dealing with issues of conduct within their units. Sometimes, however, their hands are tied.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell would certainly have tied the hands of this commander given this incident. Again, I can’t speak for the commander’s decision, or the whole scenario, but it’s altogether possible that something other than “PC attitudes” was behind his choice to only give “a slap on the wrist” to the offending sailor.
First, let me thank Nick for coming back to blogging at exactly the right time (almost in the same way Athene appears to the various Greek heroes–at the right time with the right tool or counsel). I’ve been in a kind of reflective mood this weekend and have not had much energy to blog, so very much appreciate Nick’s various posts on DADT repeal.
I will shortly offer some thoughts to offer on who really shone in the movement for repeal. For now, I’ll just single out Aubrey Sarvis of Service Members Legal Defense Network (SLDN) for reasons I articulated in this post: unlike leaders of other gay organizations in the nation’s capital, he, even in the heyday of Obama’s Washington, was reaching out to Republicans. I believe that it is in large part due to those efforts that eight Republicans backed repeal, including the two most junior Republicans in the Senate.
Without Republican votes — and without the active involvement of Maine Republican Susan Collins, repeal would not have happened.
Just a quick note that our LA dinner with be this Tuesday, December 21. After fixing the date, I realized that it is the same date as Scott Schmidt’s campaign kickoff at Eleven, 8811 Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. So, I’ll push back our start time until 7:30 to accommodate those who want to attend Scott’s event and those who want to avoid rush-hour traffic.
If I haven’t already given you the details, please drop me a note and I will.
One of the best arguments I’ve heard against the repeal of DADT (which, as we say in the business is now OBE) is that it will lead to a new level of mamby-pambyness vis-a-vis gay troops demanding they be treated “fairly”. Often as we’ve noticed, when any “rights” group is looking for “fairness” it’s often simply code for “special rights”.
For the majority (based on my experience) of gay troops, our lives will likely not change much on a day-to-day basis. I, for one, am not planning to “come out” to anybody save a few close friends where I work. I’m expecting, in fact, that they likely know about me anyway. (After all, such a devilishly handsome man with so much going for him my age not married? He must be gay! Har har, but anyway…) Inasmuch, I don’t expect most gay troops will be demanding anything much more than simply not getting kicked out if we forget to use the gender-neutral pronouns when speaking of our dates.
This is not to say there won’t be a few (which will likely seem like much more than a few) flamboyantly unprofessional troops whose conduct will surely be seen as unbecoming and hopefully will be counseled right away. That will be a touchy subject I’ll save for another post.
For now let’s talk about “special rights”.
Many have argued this is a stepping-stone to a larger “gay rights” agenda. I’ve never seen it as such, and I regret that there will definitely be many gay “rights” champions who will misuse this to further their own agenda (much as those opposed to gay “rights” will also use it to further their agenda). They have no concern necessarily about the defense of the Nation nor about the military. We are a tool for them to use and they should be ashamed, if they knew any such thing as shame in the first place.
There’s another thing that I think might come of this which would be a good sign. Check out this quote from the DoD’s report on the repeal of DADT:
We do not recommend that sexual orientation be placed alongside race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, as a class eligible for various diversity programs, tracking initiatives, and complaint resolution processes under the Military Equal Opportunity Program. We believe that doing so could produce a sense, rightly or wrongly, that gay men and lesbians are being elevated to a special status as a “protected class” and will receive special treatment. In a new environment in which gay and lesbian Service members can be open about their sexual orientation, we believe they will be accepted more readily if the military community understands that they are simply being permitted equal footing with everyone else.
This is a sentiment I (as most libertarian conservatives) have long espoused: Equal treatment, not special treatment. Which leads to the next logical question: Why should “race, color, religion, sex, and national origin” be the basis for special treatment either? If gays and lesbians “will be accepted more readily” if not treated differently, wouldn’t that also be the same for members of these other groups? What an interesting outcome of this whole episode if the entire concept of “special” categories of troops went by the way-side?
For all the talk (and legitimate, I might add) of “unintended consequences” surrounding the repeal of DADT, what a happy accident it would be if, by virtue of this new policy change, we had to rethink how we treated everybody. Because if there’s no good reason to treat gays and lesbians as “diversity programs” (and there isn’t), then why do we need them in the first place? This could be a whole new chapter in respecting each other as individuals and as part of a larger team rather than the social balkanization the Left so often loves to use to drive us apart.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)
Today truly is an historic day for the military. As Dan posted earlier this morning, cloture was reached on a bill sponsored by hawk Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) (<--notice no "D" in there) and minutes ago the full Senate voted 65-31 to enact the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act of 2010".
I'm very pleased for a few reasons:
First of all, this happened fairly. While there's an argument that this was thrust into the waning (and flailing) moments of a lame-duck session of the legislature, given the way the vote came down, it would likely have passed in the next Congress anyway, save for the leadership's likely reluctance to bring it to a vote in the first place. In that sense, there's a bit more democracy going on here in that the majority who would vote for it actually did get a chance to have the vote today that they probably wouldn’t have gotten in the 112th Congress next year.
Another aspect of fairness is that it passed on a stand-alone basis, not tucked into the Defense Authorization Bill as Harry Reid had tried to do earlier. By tying such a monumental act to an authorization bill that must be passed every year, Sen. Reid displayed his typical underhandedness and craven lack of integrity that in the end turned out to not even be necessary. That this vote was on its own bill shows the type of transparent and out-in-the-open nature of government that the Tea Parties were trying to achieve. It’s a shame that it came only after Sen. Reid’s back-room bargaining failed. In the end, though, baby-steps…
Third, I cannot express how grateful I am that this didn’t happen at the rap of a judge’s gavel. Nothing could have been more destructive than had our military been forced to make this change not because our commanders had been directed to do so by our elected civilian leaders, but by judicial fiat. Simply put, the judicial branch is not (despite this Administration’s obsession with trying our enemies in civilian courts) charged with, nor does it have the temperament for, taking on the responsibility of national security. While all would agree that the policy is discriminatory, that in and of itself is a very very poor reason to make such a huge change to policy. For example, the ADA doesn’t quite apply to the military, now, does it? On the other hand, give me a truly national-defense reason for considering applying it so, and I (and all military commanders) will be all ears.
Also, while the actual voting seemed to come up quickly, this action was actually very soberly taken and with great deliberation and thought. When the DoD commissioned a survey and the Secretary of Defense implored Congress to wait until that survey’s results and the larger study’s recommendations could be made on how to implement repeal, many looked at the calendar (after the election in which everybody knew the Democrats would lose much power) and sighed. However, patience has paid off and many minds (including those of some Senators’) were changed as a result of the study. Serious thought and concern for our military and the impacts of this action led many of our civilian leaders to support this repeal. Had the activists at HRC (and, yes, LCR also) had their way, this would have been rammed through this summer or fall before the study was made public. The result would have been certain defeat as the effort would have been seen as what it would have been: Another attempt to once again rush through legislation before we’ve had a chance to come up for air and think (and talk) it over.
Finally, and most consequentially, I’m pleased for our Nation. As I’ve stated many times in the past, DADT is a policy that puts our national security at risk. Forget all the whining and pleas about how “unfair” and “bigoted” the policy is. Set aside the childish theatrics of chaining oneself to the White House gate in order to stand up for your “rights” (which, apparently to some, include service in the military for some reason). And let go of the false premise that the policy either drummed out an inordinate number of troops or otherwise dissuaded so many from enlistment in the first place (both are extremely broad generalizations that don’t stand up to statistical rigor). After this repeal is implemented and gay men and women are allowed to openly serve, as I’ve mentioned before, those with security clearances will no longer be blackmailable (for being homosexual, that is) and therefore no longer pose that threat to national security.
As I’ve maintained from the beginning of this debate, the real reason for repeal of this policy should be rooted in national security. While I regret that, even up to the end (as I watched speeches on C-SPAN2), that argument was rarely raised, and when so, was poorly made, the end result will be that national security is strengthened. In these days of Wikileaks and our lowest-ranking members having access to our highest-priority information, removing this security risk is vital.
I’ve got some more thoughts on this, and I’ll be writing a lot this weekend and over the next few weeks as the policy is hashed out in practical terms. But for now, let’s enjoy the knowledge that our nation will be that much more safe as this security threat will soon be removed.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)
There will surely be many words written here and in other places—many by yours truly—about today’s repeal of DADT. Before the deluge, please allow me to indulge this:
I thank God for the gay men and women who have been serving during (and even before) DADT in spite of it. While many gay activists have been on the sidelines carping about “rights” and “integrity” and “honor”, these brave men and women put their Nation before themselves and sacrificed as their colleagues never had to. They were called by service and answered in a way that speaks volumes about their dedication to the mission of the military. They chose to serve even as doing so meant keeping such a big part of themselves under wraps.
They were infantilized, pitied, and even demeaned by their supposed “supporters” for having consciously put their nation ahead of their own desires and identities. Many of them will continue to serve silently and with great dignity. I am humbled to have served with them.
I welcome into our ranks those openly gay men and women who will now choose to join the military, but I will forever be honored to have served next to those who answered the call without requiring their own terms as a prerequisite for their service.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)
With our Nation’s borders breached so frequently these days by criminals entering our Country illegally and the current Administration having the cajones to actually sue a border state for doing its job, can we pause and agree that rewarding criminals by guaranteeing their progeny legal citizenship status is a bad idea?
Just a thought before we throw our caps in the air over DADT’s repeal later this afternoon, that there are other reasons to celebrate today also.
-Nick (ColoradoPatriot, from TML)
In a landmark vote for gay rights, the Senate on Saturday voted to advance legislation that would overturn the military ban on openly gay troops known as “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
The 63-33 test vote all but guarantees the legislation will pass the Senate, possibly by day’s end, and reach the president’s desk before the new year.
Interesting that the AP bills this as a vote for gay rights. This issue shouldn’t be about gay rights, but instead about military effectiveness. If gay people can serve without harming unit cohesion, then the ban should be lifted. Fortunately the legislation under consideration returns the decision-making authority over this issue to those who should the final decision, our military leaders:
Even after the measure were to become law, the policy change wouldn’t go into effect right away. Obama and his military advisers would have certify that the change wouldn’t hurt the ability of troops to fight, and there would also be a 60-day waiting period.
Not sure I’ll have much opportunity today to blog on the matter, but will try to update as time allows.
In past years, when I’ve put together the ballot for the most coveted crown tiara in the blogosphere, that which will soon decorate the head of the Grande Conservative Blogress Diva, I crafted a list of several of the blogresses who fit the description of a conservative blogress diva, a strong and confident blogress who commands the respect of (gay) conservative men.
This year, given my schedule, I neglected to put together an initial list, so will rely instead on our readers to supply the nominations.
So far, the potential nominees are (in no particular order):
- Pam Meister
- Jill of Pundit & Pundette (also at Potluck)
- No Sheeples Here
- Robin of Berkeley
- Clarice Feldman (of American Thinker)
- Elizabeth Scalia (AKA The Anchoress)
- Ann Althouse
- Sister Toldjah
- Dr. Helen (AKA the Instawife)
- Michelle Malkin
- Tammy Bruce
- Cassy Fiano
- Mary Katherine Ham
- Melissa Clouthier
There were several other nominees, all of whom met the criteria for diva, but may not meet the criterion for blogress, so I will consult with the committee about whether or not they are eligible for nomination.
All nominations must be submitted and seconded by this Sunday, December 20.
You can indicate your choices in the comments below or in an e-mail to me.
Over at his blog, Sonicfrog has a great piece on the legislative game-playing one of the two most unpopular incumbent Senators reelected last month, Majority Leader Harry Reid. Sonic faults ol’ Harry for delaying a vote on the budget for political reasons — “to deny the Republican yet another example to show just how out of control spending is with the Democrats in charge“, and takes him to the woodshed for his procedural shenanigans with Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell repeal:
Reid has been playing procedural games with the repeal of DADT, for which he has been rightly criticized. Well, it looks like we’re about to see at least one more act of gamesmanship from Reid before he’s through. There are two vote scheduled for a vote in the Senate on Saturday. One one vote, the repeal of DADT, it certainly looks like there are enough Republican crossover votes for that outdated and useless military ordinance to finally get throw into the dustbin of history where it belongs. We are just learning another vote is schedule to occur tomorrow – a vote on the Dream Act. There is no Republican support for that at all. Twenty to one Reid will tie the vote for the two together, which will all but guarantee that repeal of DADT fails and that onerous policy stays in place. Why would Reid do this? Simply to be able to exclaim that it’s the Republicans fault that DADT was not repealed. Yes, he’s just that partisan.
I hope I’m wrong on this one, but given the pattern of manipulation by Reid in the past, i would be surprised if he didn’t take this route.
Personally, I think he secretly wants to keep this policy is place because its repeal will give gay voters one less reason to want to keep Democrats in power. I too hope Sonic is wrong on this.
It’s not just those of us to the right of center faulting the Nevada Democrat for the way he’s handled DADT repeal.
Over at his blog, Michael Petrelis has put together a list of over 50 people, including yours truly, who have called for HRC’s Joe Solmonese to step down. It’s fascinating that despite the change of power in the House in Washington, there is no talk for this Democratic partisan to step down from an ostensibly non-partisan organization. Given his failure to understand the appeal of conservative ideas, Joe is ill-equipped to reach out to the new leadership in that chamber.
And while Republicans may not have won back the Senate, we learned yesterday that the power of those conservative ideas — and their advocates in the Tea Party — helped torpedo the Democrats’ omnibus spending bill. If would seem that if an organization wanted to have influence in Washington, it would bring on leadership able to adapt to the new political climate.
Not to mention the problem that Solmonese hasn’t shown much of a knack for playing hardball with Washington Democrats, letting them play lip service to the agenda of HRC and other left-leaning gay groups while doing little to enact that agenda.
Now, while I have been as critical of Solmonese as I have been of “Equality California’s” Geoff Kors, in the wake of last month’s elections, I refrained from calling for the latter’s resignation. Simply put, while Kors is equally as partisan as Solmonese, his strategy of backing Democrats paid off; his fellow partisans held onto power in the (once-)Golden State. He would continue to have influence in Sacramento.
And yet Kors is the one stepping down while the only individuals calling for Solmonese to step down are activists, pundits and advocates outside his organization.
Guess HRC must have an agenda a bit different than that of actually advocating for gay Americans. Perhaps, their real goal is turning out gay votes for Democratic politicians.
With deficits almost more than twice the total amount of the annual federal budget the year the president graduated from high school, you’d think Congress would get the message that it needs to hold the line on federal spending.
Not just that, voters across the country voted out big-spending Democrats and voted in Republicans who promised to cut the size and cost of the federal government. (Well, some Democrats won election sounding like Republicans.) Maybe Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Mount Crumpit) thinks this sentiment doesn’t apply to him because he survived an electoral challenge this year (guess he’s discounting the millions he and his union allies paid to demonize and discredit his opponent). The other day, he “dropped on his colleagues a 1,924-page, $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal 2011 that no one but a few Appropriators have read, if even they have“:
The last-minute omnibus should also offend Senators who claim to have heard the voters on November 2. This jam-job is a substitute for the 12 individual spending bills that Congress was supposed to have passed during the summer. But for the first time in modern memory, Democrats never got around to passing a budget outline, much less specific spending bills. So now they want to rush one giant bill into law when no one is paying attention.
Rather than pass a simple “continuing resolution” to fund government operations through early 2011, Harry Reid & Co. decided to ignore the backlash against fiscal profligacy and let their pork barons run wild. The result is an orgy of earmarks, rolled out two weeks after most Senate Republicans and seven Senate Democrats voted for a temporary earmark moratorium. (more…)
A good reminder of the significance of this date…. from the Heritage Foundation.
On this day in 1773, a group of colonists disguised as Indians boarded British merchant ships and dumped into the Boston Harbor an estimated £10,000 worth of tea as a protest against British colonial policies.. John Adams declared this event, that we celebrate today as the Boston Tea Party, to be the “grandest event which has ever yet happened since the controversy with Britain opened.” What led once loyal colonists to protest the World’s leading power? How should we think about the Tea Party two hundred thirty-seven years later?
The American Revolution began as a tax revolt. After defeating France in the Seven Years’ War (which began in North America as the French and Indian War), Great Britain gained control over vast areas of land in the Americas, but also incurred massive debts. For the first time, Parliament looked to the American colonies as a source of revenue, and so began the long train of abuses against the American colonies. The American Revenue Act (sometimes called the Sugar Act) expanded import and export duties and created new government mechanisms to enforce trade laws. The Stamp Act was the first direct tax levied on America, requiring all newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets, and official documents—even decks of playing cards!—to have stamps as proof of payment of taxes.
These new policies outraged the colonists. The problem with the policies was not the amount of taxation—the taxes were actually quite low—but the process by which the British government imposed and enforced these taxes. As loyal colonists, the Americans recognized Parliament’s authority to legislate for the empire generally. But, the power to tax was a legislative power reserved to the colonists’ own assemblies rather than a distant legislature in London. The English Bill of Rights of 1689 had forbidden the imposition of taxes without legislative consent, and since the colonists had no representation in parliament they complained that the taxes violated their traditional rights. Thus the American’s rallying cry became: “No taxation without representation!”
The British rejected the Americans’ argument for self-government. The Declaratory Act of 1766, asserted Parliament’s absolute sovereignty over the Americans, including the power to make laws for the colonies “in all cases whatsoever.” “No taxation without representation” meant no taxation without the approval of the British Parliament. It never literally meant—not for the Americans or even for the overwhelming majority of British citizens—representation in that body. The colonists, like all British subjects, enjoyed “virtual representation” of their interests by the aristocrats that controlled Parliament.
After repealing the earlier taxes, the British government passed a new series of revenue measures (called the Townshend Acts) in 1767, which taxed goods such as paper, glass, lead, and tea—and once again affirmed the power of British courts to issue undefined and open-ended search warrants (called “writs of assistance”) to enforce the law. Asserting that the sole right of taxation was with the colonial legislature, Virginia proposed a formal agreement among the colonies banning the importation of British goods—a practice that quickly spread to the other local legislatures and cut the colonial import of British goods in half. So Parliament eventually repealed those duties, too, except for the tax on tea.
Our forefathers did not destroy the tea cargo because of a simple tax dispute. At issue were the principles of self-government, consent, and natural rights. These principles are enunciated in the Declaration of Independence and continue to define us as a nation and inspire us as a people.
In 2010, we have our own intolerable act—Obamacare, a massive bureaucratic expansion of government over one-sixth of the American economy and many aspects of our lives and medical decisions. But there is a key difference between the situation now and that of 1773. Those early patriots had to establish their independence and to start anew. But, our task is different. “It is not about fixed bayonets but fixed principles; not about bullets but ballots. Our task is not to overthrow; it is not revolution; it is renewal and restoration of those self-evident truths of constitutional government at the heart of America.”