Happy Birthday, America

     It’s number 248, if we don’t count the very first one.

     Time was, I would print the core section of the Declaration of Independence here, as my commemoration of the original event. It’s one of the greatest passages of prose ever set down, and it deserves to be proclaimed all over the world. But there are surely other bloggers who’ll see to that, so I think I’ll go in another direction today.


     It’s not conscience, as Hamlet would have it, that makes cowards of us all. It’s comfort. We Americans of the Twenty-First Century are the most comfortable people who’ve ever lived. No emperor in history enjoyed the degree of comfort that an ordinary American enjoys today.

     Comfort is a gem of many facets. Most of them are about certainty. Certainty of nourishment, clothing, and shelter; certainty of warmth when it’s cold and (for most) coolth when it’s hot; certainty of personal mobility at need; certainty of skilled and attentive medical care when the occasion warrants. Thanks to the oft-derided pharmaceutical industry, most of us even have a reasonable certainty of a painless death. Provided we don’t run around doing unnecessarily risky things, of course. (Yes, some must earn their livings by doing risky things, but even for them, the probability of a terrible, body-maiming event is lower than ever before.)

     Who would willingly risk any of that?

     Don’t let the question slide impersonally past. It’s addressed to you.


     Comfort is the principal enabling condition for the encroachment of tyranny. Contemporary would-be tyrants have learned how to do it. Their principal tactics are crisis and gradualism.

     We recently had a demonstration of crisis as a method for enabling our oppression. The COVID-19 episode should have dramatized the power of the approach more than adequately. Even so, most won’t draw the moral, though the point has been made a great many times. As my old friend John Greiner would have done, I’ll use something visually arresting to make sure you’re paying attention:

     (Nothing like the power of boobs, eh, gentlemen?)

     As you read this, the tyrants are straining to contrive a second medical “crisis,” this time around “bird flu.” You may rest assured that, the COVID “crisis” having been so successful, they’ll try it, or something like it, again very soon. Otherwise, they might fall back on one of their standards: “climate change,” “gun violence,” or perhaps “inequality.”


     Gradualism has a different dynamic. The would-be tyrant identifies some area of potential action that’s forbidden to him by the law, but which can be plausibly presented to the public as a “problem” that government action can “solve.” We’ve certainly seen enough such “problems:”

  • “Discrimination”
  • “Poverty”
  • “Urban blight”
  • “Pollution”
  • “Unemployment”
  • “Recession”
  • “Workplace harassment”
  • “Unequal opportunity in employment”

     That should be enough for starters. The idea here is to create a justification for a tiny little violation of the law, for the sake of the “solution.” In America, the law to be violated is the Constitution, whose bonds are supposed to be sacred and inviolate. But the would-be tyrant knows that once those bonds have been perforated, they’ll lose what remains of their force. “After all, if we can put a man on the Moon…” — ?

     The wild pigs of the Okefenokee swamp can tell you how that works out. (And no, it doesn’t matter how much you love bacon.)


     Crises make us afraid; “problems” disturb our comfort at the margin. Both are useful tools to him who wants power over others. And both have been plied to the hilt by the masters of the political game.

     There’s been a lot of talk about the “deep state” or alternately, the “establishment.” Those are real things, albeit loosely defined and fuzzy along their borders. Rather than an intensive approach to defining them, perhaps we should take a methodological approach: Does person (or institution) X strive to encourage a sense of crisis among us? Does he suggest that there’s a problem that, even though we could and should deal with it as private individuals, we could leave it in government’s hands and remain comfortably seated in our recliners? I propose that an X who adopts either of those methods of encroachment qualifies as a threat to the rightful liberty protected by the provisions of the Constitution of the United States.

     The Xs are many. They walk among us, mostly unmarked. You might even be an X yourself. Think about it between hot dogs.

     And enjoy America’s 248th birthday. There’s no way to know how many more we’ll be allowed to celebrate.


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  1. There are quite a few manufactured crises.

    The most ubiquitous and constantly shifting one has been the global cooling, uh, warming, uh, climate crisis. The wider public still believes the charlatans rather than their own eyes.

    Here is a fine example.

    Roman baths on Beach at Malta

    You are correct. Americans have gotten so accustomed to their comfort that they take their liberty for granted.

    And woe is heaped upon you and me for showing them how they’ve been fooled rather than focus their ire on the scammers.

    Fragile egos appear to accompany that comfortable life style.

    • jwm on July 4, 2024 at 8:15 AM

    The rot and the lie are deep. I notice that National Weather Service, which ought to be about as neutral as an agency can be, is fully converged. This is So Cal. So Cal gets hot in the summer, like ninety degrees hot. But there are bright orange HAZARDOUS WEATHER CONDITION warnings. Yer all gonna die! During winter storms, when the rain falls and the wind blows, they post hazardous air quality warnings. Yer all gonna die! *sigh*
    What do we have here? OUR democracy, if we can keep it. Isn’t that the quote? 
    There are times, sad to say, when the idea of a very strong man on a very white horse doesn’t sound so very bad anymore.

  2. People talk about how bad things are, but that “comfortable American” is woefully lacking the facts. According to the most recent US Census Bureau data:

    99.5% of American homes have hot and cold running water on command (the majority of the homes that lack this are in ultra-rural Alaska)
    99% of American homes have electricity (ditto)
    94% of American households have a computer, and 83% have a Broadband connection (high-speed)

    How would those numbers stack up against the (let’s whisper it) majority-POC countries in Africa? The Muslim nations? One of Bill Whittle’s old essays, where he compared one of the Great Wonders of the Ancient World (the Great Pyramid of Cheops) to one of the most ubiquitous, commonplace buildings found in suburban America – the common 7-11 convenience store – is a hilarious read of how easy we here have life, even compared to a mere century ago, never mind five millennia.

  3. The trick is to differentiate between ACTUAL Concerns, vs FAKE Concerns.
    I follow the weather. I’ve lived along Lake Erie most of my life. I have a weather station, and also use Accuweather to plan my trips around heavy rain/snow.
    Generally, the Weather Service is accurate. It warns of upcoming bad weather, hazardous conditions, and potential disasters. Those of us who have lived in an area for a long time are quite familiar with the distinctions between a Watch, a Warning, and an Advisory, when it comes to keeping the public informed. Here is a link to the increasing levels – https://www.weather.gov/sjt/WatchWarningAdvisoryExplained
    It’s the same with Civil/Government/Enemy Dangers:
    – A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.
    – An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.
    – A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.

    Now, how should we perceive the dangers, using that type of scale?

    – Use caution and situational awareness when in public. Keep an eye on people in your neighborhood – are strangers/sketchy people present on an increasing basis?
    – Keep vigilant of crimes, even the petty ones. Are they increasing? Are incidents getting more serious? Who is in charge – the police/citizens, or the thugs? Many cities have a Police Blotter/Crime Map – check them out regularly.
    – Noise levels – if you notice loud noises at night, more parties/gatherings spilling out into the yards/streets, lots of barking dogs, you might have a problem.
    – Trash/broken bottles, not picked up for extended periods of time.
    – Cars cruising the streets, circling back again and again.
    – Talk to your neighbors – are they noticing any of this?
    This is the time you need to start putting your Go Bags and Preps for Hunkering Down together. If you start early, you should be able to research, plan, and buy at non-inflated prices. If you are planning to sit tight, shore up your home’s defenses – reinforced doors, warning lights/sounds/alerts at the perimeter, protection for windows (which may be as simple as thorny shrubbery or impact-resistant film).

    – You will want to get out your emergency lights/communications/defense tools (MIGHT include guns and ammo, but should, at least, include tire irons, baseball bats, air horns, and other useful items).
    – Day and night, monitor the situation. Unfortunately, police/emergency scanners are less and less useful, as most departments are moving towards encoded systems that you won’t be able to access. In addition to emergency radios to keep up with local broadcasts, and TV/Cable news, you should probably break out your GMRS radios. With those, you can exchange info with locals who may have more informations than you (You DID talk to your neighborhood BEFORE this time – say, a 6-12 block area – to locate other radio owners, and exchange information/names/channels to use in an emergency/phone #s, didn’t you?)

    – The S*** is hitting the Fan! Rotate the watch, stay alert, and pray!
    – Often, the crisis is over before things reach this point. So, don’t assume things will escalate to this level. You can miss out on a lot of life, sitting in your bunker.
    – This active part may not last that long. Even riots die out after a few days to a week or so. But, when the government does come in (assuming they do), they will likely want to impose some form of martial law – including disarming the citizens. Have your plans made for how you want to handle this, before this point.

    I would expect that this will not go beyond the Advisory level for most of the country. The cities will like bear the brunt of this, but they have been hovering on the edge of chaos for a long time. Going one level further isn’t, for many major cities, much of a stretch.

    Like bad weather, MOST of the time, the worst case scenario doesn’t occur. I don’t panic when the advisories come on the news; I pick up my awareness, but stay calm.

    With civil unrest/potential societal change, I suggest you take an equally calm approach.

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