Tell Us Again Why We Need More Tech Visas


Sillyicon Valley has been telling us for years that it cannot find enough tech graduates to fill its ranks, so  it MUST recruit overseas or outsource (also overseas). This is why, the Tech gurus say, we must reform immigration laws so they can recruit more scientists and engineers from India and Pakistan.

I have been saying for  almost as many  years that the real  reason Sillycon Valley wants to  open the immigration gates to techies from India and Pakistan is  that employees from the subcontinent work cheap.  The bosses who run the tech industry would not feel the need to go outside the USA for workers if they could pay them what they might pay comparable employees in India.  After all, a lower payroll means a bigger bonus. For some reason, American graduates who spend zillions attending American universities think they ought to  get paid well enough to live comfortably and pay back their student debt.

Now comes USA Toady with a report that only half of the minority graduates (i.e. Black and Hispanic) with tech degrees from major American universities are being hired by the high technology gods.  These include PHDs from fine American Universities with pretty good football programs like Rice and Florida and even Kansas (OK not so much on the football program).

An explanation for this  is that Sillycon Valley only recruits from Stanford and Berkeley and UCLA and Carnegie Mellon.  Another is  that the world works better for plutocrats when the middle class has significantly lower expectations.  In any case it certainly gives the lie to the notion that we do  not train enough techies in the USA.

More Lies About Immigration

The Republican Party’s lies and fabrications surrounding President Obama’s current immigration debacle are so many and obvious that it is hard to tell where to start.  Maybe with the most important issue… the demand that the President violate the Constitution of the United States of America and deport all these immigrants IMMEDIATELY!!

Yes,  immediate deportation without due process is a clear violation of the Constitution, which the right wing crazy people who dominate the GOOP so frequently complain that the President violates regularly.  (Although to be fair I have never read of a Republican complaining that someone is  getting too much Due Process.) Check out the Fifth Amendment.  It says “No person shall be …. deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”  Note how it says “No Person.”  Not “no citizen,” or “no native English speaker,” or “no adult citizen.”   It says no person, meaning that every person who is taken into custody in the USA will get a hearing that will determine his/her rights.  This is a good thing because it protects us from arbitrary actions by law enforcement which can be biased or controlled by lawless forces; and it protects us from errors … for example what if one of those kids is actually a sixth grader born in Florida and vacationing in Texas?  So the President would be violating the Constitution of the United States if he failed to provide each alleged illegal immigrant a hearing. EH?

Second, there is the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA). Signed into  law by George  Busch it provides that unaccompanied immigrant children who come into the custody of the USA be placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.  This law is an amendment to and expansion of the child protection provisions of the USA Patriot Act, which established the Department of Homeland Security and granted the NSA vast powers to spy on citizens.  The purpose of this provision was to protect children from international sex trafficking.  Among other things, it provides that children have a right to  claim asylum, that they will have an appointed lawyer and that they be screened to determine their physical condition.

Does it seem strange that the GOOP Leadership, which has complained loud and long that the President is making extraordinary use of the executive authority and ignoring the Congressional Will, is now complaining that the President is NOT ignoring the requirements of the statute which Congress passed by a substantial majority and which was signed into law by the Republican’s  own brave leader, Dubya himself?  They plan to sue the President for what they call ignoring congressional intent, and now claim that he should be ignoring Congressional intent.  HUH?

More folly is found in the consistent refrain of many prominent GOOPers and talking heads:  WE HAVE TO CLOSE THE BORDER… Obama HAS NOT CLOSED THE BORDER!!!  The idiot Texas Governor has been singing this aria all over the telewaves.    Think about this for a moment.  If Obama had not closed the border, would all these immigrants have been captured and detained?  Wouldn’t they have slipped through the net and found jobs at Mickey Dees and Home Depot by now?   Isn’t  the very fact that we are overstocked with captured immigrants a sure sign that the border is pretty well sealed shut?

And finally there is the absurd assertion by the batshit crazies that somehow Obama orchestrated this mess to undermine the government and destroy democracy as we know it.  This notion is just too stupid to address.

The  truth is there is no issue here.  The purpose of this nonsense is to continue the attack on the President, to undermine his authority and ensure the failure of the government.  We should be calling bullshit on this all the way to the polls in November.

It’s Friday, Ya Bastids!

Today between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. I am not to be disturbed.

I will be sitting down during that time to tune in to the final broadcast of The Randi Rhodes Show.

I know, I know; let the snarky comments commence. Randi who? I thought she already quit. She’s still on the air? I thought he was dead. That kind of thing. Feh.

Since her Air America Radio debut, I have been an avid Rhodes listener. During the illegal, immoral incursion into a sovereign nation that was Iraq, Rhodes’ broadcast was indispensable. No broadcaster at the time was able to lay out the facts regarding Iraq in such a comprehensive, irrefutable manner. Rarely did a Randi Rhodes listener come away from her show without original insights regarding the news of the day. Her show was sublime, and I am really going to miss her.

Randi has stated that her departure is her own choice, and to a large extent I think it’s true. I suppose she’ll want to spend more time with The Howard and more time visiting her beloved Costa Rica, perhaps one day to even succeed at banishing the Brooklyn out of her Spanish. Her take was that she can move on to other ways to try to effect a difference. I hope that’s true, and I hope she does.

I think what she’s not saying is that the show no longer pays her. Her renewal earlier this year still seemed tenuous. XM-Sirius dropped her, and she’s sloughed off affiliates. Her only reliable outlet of late was the Internet network IHeart Radio, which does not offer advertising, only horrible music, during the breaks. Her salient observation regarding this is that these days, even talk radio is horribly polarized, and it’s not good for radio. Once upon a time, liberal and conservative talkers could coexist on the same station. No more. Now, it’s not enough to be able to draw an audience; now, you have to fit the format. This development may not be difficult for the cable news stations. For radio, it’s death.

It’s a shame. Of all the available media, radio is the most vital element to a national infrastructure. Think about it. The hurricane hits and your power is out. You can’t watch your television, you can’t surf the Internet, and your newspaper is not as up-to-the-minute as you require right now. But you do have that little transistor radio in that little junk drawer. And, if you’re lucky, someone will be broadcasting information you might find helpful.

This is not hypothetical for me, as I was in Raleigh for Hurricane Fran. My power was out for a week. Where do you think I turned to for my news and entertainment that week?

This is a country that is standing idly by during a severe commoditization of its vital national infrastructure. Bridges and roads are left to rot and fall down, the power grid is iffy, and, as reported last night on TRMS, our transportation industry has for decades been just dandy with sending out railroad cars that have a habit of exploding spontaneously. But media, too, is part of that infrastructure. It’s not just a business to be snapped up by the next media mogul. It is Revere’s midnight ride, and its strongest link, the radio, has been marginalized, to the point where after today, I will be denied hearing one of its best.

12 segments to beer. And that’s it.

Knockers up.

The Middle Class is not ‘Normal’

Editor’s Note: I do not normally lift entire opinion columns and reprint them here. However, I find the following to have been so important and compelling that I think it’s worth pushing the limits of fair use. I just don’t want to lose track of the points Thom Hartmann makes here.

Just so you know, we don’t own this column and have not aksed permission to print. Any eyebrow wiggling can be direted to brady @ kiav dot net.

But I think Thom will be cool with it.  —BB


There’s nothing “normal” about having a middle class. Having a middle class is a choice that a society has to make, and it’s a choice we need to make again in this generation, if we want to stop the destruction of the remnants of the last generation’s middle class. Despite what you might read in the Wall Street Journal or see on Fox News, capitalism is not an economic system that produces a middle class. In fact, if left to its own devices, capitalism tends towards vast levels of inequality and monopoly. The natural and most stable state of capitalism actually looks a lot like the Victorian England depicted in Charles Dickens’ novels. 

At the top there is a very small class of superrich. Below them, there is a slightly larger, but still very small, “middle” class of professionals and mercantilists – doctor, lawyers, shop-owners – who help keep things running for the superrich and supply the working poor with their needs. And at the very bottom there is the great mass of people – typically over 90 percent of the population – who make up the working poor. They have no wealth – in fact they’re typically in debt most of their lives – and can barely survive on what little money they make.

So, for average working people, there is no such thing as a middle class in “normal” capitalism.  Wealth accumulates at the very top among the elites, not among everyday working people. Inequality is the default option. 

You can see this trend today in America.  When we had heavily regulated and taxed capitalism in the post-war era, the largest employer in America was General Motors, and they paid working people what would be, in today’s dollars, about $50 an hour with benefits.  Reagan began deregulating and cutting taxes on capitalism in 1981, and today, with more classical “raw capitalism,” what we call “Reaganomics,” or “supply side economics,” our nation’s largest employer is WalMart and they pay around $10 an hour. 

This is how quickly capitalism reorients itself when the brakes of regulation and taxes are removed – this huge change was done in less than 35 years.  The only ways a working-class “middle class” can come about in a capitalist society are by massive social upheaval – a middle class emerged after the Black Plague in Europe in the 14th century – or by heavily taxing the rich.

French economist Thomas Piketty has talked about this at great length in his groundbreaking new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. He argues that the middle class that came about in Western Europe and the United States during the mid-twentieth was the direct result of a peculiar set of historical events. According to Piketty, the post-World War II middle class was created by two major things: the destruction of European inherited wealth during the war and higher taxes on the rich, most of which were rationalized by the war.  This brought wealth and income at the top down, and raised working people up into a middle class. 

Piketty is right, especially about the importance of high marginal tax rates and inheritance taxes being necessary for the creation of a middle class that includes working-class people. Progressive taxation, when done correctly, pushes wages down to working people and reduces the incentives for the very rich to pillage their companies or rip off their workers.  After all, why take another billion when 91 percent of it just going to be paid in taxes?

This is the main reason why, when GM was our largest employer and our working class were also in the middle class, CEOs only took home 30 times what working people did.  The top tax rate for all the time America’s middle class was created was between 74 and 91 percent.  Until, of course, Reagan dropped it to 28 percent and working people moved from the middle class to becoming the working poor.  

Other policies, like protective tariffs and strong labor laws also help build a middle class, but progressive taxation is the most important because it is the most direct way to transfer money from the rich to the working poor, and to create a disincentive to theft or monopoly by those at the top.

History shows how important high taxes on the rich are for creating a strong middle class. If you compare a chart showing the historical top income tax rate over the course of the twentieth century with a chart of income inequality in the United States over roughly the same time period, you’ll see that the period with the highest taxes on the rich – the period between the Roosevelt and Reagan administrations – was also the period with the lowest levels of economic inequality.

You’ll also notice that since marginal tax rates started to plummet during the Reagan years, income inequality has skyrocketed.

Even more striking, during those same 33 years since Reagan took office and started cutting taxes on the rich, income levels for the top 1 percent have ballooned while income levels for everyone else have stayed pretty much flat. Coincidence? I think not.

Creating a middle class is always a choice, and by embracing Reaganomics and cutting taxes on the rich, we decided back in 1980 not to have a middle class within a generation or two.  George H.W. Bush saw this, and correctly called it “Voodoo Economics.”  And we’re still in the era of Reaganomics – as President Obama recently pointed out, Reagan was a successful revolutionary. 

This, of course, is exactly what conservatives always push for. When wealth is spread more equally among all parts of society, people start to expect more from society and start demanding more rights.  That leads to social instability, which is feared and hated by conservatives, even though revolutionaries and liberals like Thomas Jefferson welcome it. 

And, as Kirk and Buckley predicted back in the 1950s, this is exactly what happened in the 1960s and ’70s when taxes on the rich were at their highest. The Civil Rights movement, the women’s movement, the consumer movement, the anti-war movement, and the environmental movement – social movements that grew out of the wealth and rising expectations of the post-World War II era’s middle class – these all terrified conservatives.  Which is why ever since they took power in 1980, they’ve made gutting working people out of the middle class their number one goal.

We now have a choice in this country. We can either continue going down the road to oligarchy, the road we’ve been on since the Reagan years, or we can choose to go on the road to a more pluralistic society with working class people able to make it into the middle class.  We can’t have both.  

And if we want to go down the road to letting working people back into the middle class, it all starts with taxing the rich. The time is long past due for us to roll back the Reagan tax cuts.  

Visit and please, listen to The Thom Hartmann Program every chance you get. 

Shinseki – Sterling

Eric Shinseki has served since 2009 as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Many of us remember him fondly as the then Army Chief of Staff what testified to the Senate during the run-up to the invasion of a then-sovereign Iraq that Iraq post-invasion would require “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers.”

This ran counter to Donald Rumsfeld’s estimate, which was, officially, “seven Marines and a slingshot.”

Shinseki was later fired.

It sucks to be right.

Now Shinseki is being leaned on to resign due to revelations that the VA in Phoenix cooked the books regarding veterans’ represented access to care versus the real numbers. Lack of access, it is said, has killed 40 veterans. The American Legion says he should resign. Even our friend Paul Rieckhoff is asking IAVA members to chime in with a poll of confidence.

Veterans’ issues have been a bone of contention for liberals for quite some time, and it is among the most worthy of issues. However, I would ask that every time you hear it suggested that a member of the Obama cabinet resign, you should hear a little bell ringing.

If Shinseki resigns, President Obama will have to replace him. Candidates must endure Senate hearings. This administration is already anticipating confirmation hearings for HHS. If these conservagoats can strong-arm more cabinet staff into resigning and make it appear as if there is some disgrace regarding it, mo’ better for their constant, active sabotage machine.

Look for more calls from the right for more folks to resign. In the meantime, it is hoped that Shinseki can get to the bottom of this and implement the proper, robust reforms.

Nearly two weeks since the NBA banned him for life, Donald Sterling is apologizing and asking for forgiveness in his first public interview after a leaked recording showed him making racist comments in a phone call with his reported girlfriend.

Sterling recorded an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper – which will air at 8 p.m. Monday on CNN – where he said “I’m a good member who made a mistake and I’m apologizing and I’m asking for forgiveness.”

“Am I entitled to one mistake, am I after 35 years? I mean, I love my league, I love my partners. Am I entitled to one mistake? It’s a terrible mistake, and I’ll never do it again,” 80-year-old Sterling said.

I’ll say it again: This problem ain’t that Sterling disparaged African-Americans. The problem is that Sterling said the he, the owner of an NBA team, doesn’t like X group of humans attending NBA games.

As you may be aware, game attendance = dollars. I think he could have said he didn’t want polar bears attending NBA games and he’d be in hot water (assuming that polar bears buy tickets to basketball games). Not as much. But some. The guy can apologize all he wants for racist comments. It doesn’t address that his comments were in tandem potentially business-killing. That’s the real reason the NBA chose to punch the guy in the windpipe rather than to slap his wrist.

Sal. Trust me. Just put some brothers up on the wall.

That Deficit Spending Bullshit

The big lie told over and over again becomes truth. This was an observation of Herman Goebbels, and a lesson learned well by Ronnie Raygun, Roger Ailes and their heirs commanding the current right wing lie machine.
The biggest and most effective of the Raygunner’s many lies is the mythic evil of deficit spending.  This notion is now accepted as gospel by nearly every purveyor of conventional beltway wisdom. NPR loves it, NBC News courts it, and no one is heard to question its value who expects any respect on Sunday morning television… Paul Krugman excepted, although it is not clear how much actual respect he gets.

The deficit lie is a particularly pernicious and especially suited to the purposes of the GOOP. After all, if the government is forced to balance its budget it cannot spend in an economic downturn, and it cannot effect the programs it needs to carry out its most important missions. Infrastructure spending, maintenance of the social safety net, and most important for the GOOP… regulation.
The best lies work because they carry some kernel of truth that the masses can identify with… such as the notion that a government budget should be like a household budget. Doesn’t every responsible household balance its budget? People think they do because frugality is among the bedrock common sense values of the USA… and all bedrock common sense Americans honor it. The problem is this is not true.

Since the beginning of modern times, deficit spending has been the secret to accruing wealth in the middle class. It is access to credit, and the educated use of it, that makes the middle class. People who do it well join the club… people who screw it up are the people right wingers didn’t want the government to help with their mortgages back in 2009.
The financier Felix Royhatyn is said to advised young couples to buy a house they could not afford and plan to grow into the debt. Indeed, the heart of the middle class portfolio is the family home, still the engine of the economy and still acquired by deficit spending. Like the government, betting that someday, if necessary, the money can be raised to manage the debt, the middle class family bets it will always be able to manage the thirty-year motgage. Indeed, smart families take on more debt, buying additional real estate, laying it off on accruing equity over time. The more real estate you manage, the more middle class you become.

As I have already pointed out, this can get you into trouble. Just look at the recent real estate mess. None-the-less, and liberals hate this… the loans that got people in trouble were taken out by people who should not have been getting them. They were the work or sharpers and fraudulent sellers and mostly banks that would steal from their grandmothers. Still, people who were not naive found better lenders, bet on a rising market and managed to get out before the bubble burst , made money.  Deficit spending will make you rich if you know how to do it. That’s how family fortunes, some big ones, but mostly small, carefully cultivated ones, are grown.

One advantage that the government has over the average homeowner, of course, is its ability to boost its income any time it wants to. Raising taxes is unpopular, but RESPONSIBLE governments have done it many times over the years to pay for wars, for example, build infrastructure and do the other things necessary. Of course, people who believe we need to “balance the budget” do not believe in responsible government.

A Deep Bench

My bruthas and sistahs in the Democratic party seem mighty eager these days to pick a nominee already. I like Warren; I like Hillary, I like Bernie, I hear.

I like to wait.

See, one, of the astounding beneficial side effects of having won the presidency with such a credible candidate as was Barack Obama is that your bench gets deeper. Lots deeper. Before, the creams of our crops were John Kerry and Al Gore. Oy.


There’s Hillary Clinton, of course, but don’t count out the sitting Veep Joe Biden. There’s Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Virginia’s Mark Warner, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Deval Patrick of Massachusetts or Amy Klobuchar, and those are only the ones I could crib quickly from the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal.

But there’s a reason these are so easily picked: Any one of them might be a strong and realistic candidate. Not one of these names would possibly continue to the clown show that was the Republican debate circuit of 2008. It’s a deep bench, people. Democrats have strong, legitimate leaders crawling out of the woodwork.

The Republicans are already down to praying for a Jeb Bush nomination.

This is going to be fun.

Popular Urinalism at Work: No wonder we are fools

If you want a good picture of the lack of clear thinking that goes on in the mass media, take a look… doesn’t have to be a close look…at the recent flap over Clivon Bundy. My local newspaper is typical. They are all enraged about how Bundy is a racist and shaming all those Republicans who were backing the Bundy story.

And the message they get out of it is you should look into the background of people before you back someone because you never know… he might be a racist, or something equally repugnant, like a child molester or socialist.

The press has yet to be outraged over Bundy’s principal crime. The guy says he does not believe in the U.S. Government, steals government property, summons a gang of armed domestic terrorists to his aid, defies the courts and threatens to kill federal agents. But that is not a problem for the editorial writers. The problem is that, while betraying his country, the old fool made it clear that he is a racist. If Bundy had the good sense to keep his racist views to himself, apparently, he would still have the respect and admiration of the popular media. Rand Paul and Rick Perry would not have to apologize.

Fixxed news is still not taking any heat for the nearly endless stream of Secessionist blather that dominates its newscasts.  Aside from MSNBC no one has noticed the obvious truth that if Bundy and his followers were black or Native American or migrant farm workers, the media would be demanding that we send in the Army and take failure to do so as proof that Obama is a reverse racist.

Separation of Church and State… AGAIN!

In the late 1820s America was in the midst of the Second Great Awakening, an evangelical Christian movement that dominated public discourse in those formative years. At that time, Christian evangelism spawned, among other political movements, Abolitionism, Zenophobia (Know Nothings opposed immigrants because many were Catholic) and a demand that the United States Postal Service cease to deliver mail on Sundays.

The later demand was placed squarely before the Congress, which appointed a special committee to study the question and recommend a resolution. The result is the definitive defense of the separation of church and state which is as relevant in 2014 as it was when published nearly 200 years ago.

The reports are not easily found… I read about them in Arthur Schlesinger’s “The Age Of Jackson,” and finally tracked down a copy in a campaign biography of  Richard M. Johnson, chair of the committee(s), and later vice president under Martin Van Buren.

The reports are reproduced here:




In the Senate of the United States, January 19, 1829, Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, made the following Report :

The Committee to whom was referred the several Petitions on the subject of Mails, on the Sabbath, or first day of the week, report that some respite is required from the ordinary vocations of life, is an established principle, sanctioned by the usages of all nations, whether Christian or Pagan. One day in seven has also been determined upon as the proportion of time; and, in conformity with the wishes of a great majority of the citizens of this country, the first day of the week, com- monly called Sunday, has been set apart to that object. The principle has received the sanction of the national legislature, so far as to admit a suspension of all public business on that day, except in cases of absolute necessity, or of great public utility.

This principle the committee would not wish to disturb. If kept within its legitimate sphere of action, no injury can result from its observance. It should, however, be kept in mind, that the proper object of government is to protect all persons in the enjoyment of their religious as well
as civil rights; and not to determine for any, whether they shall esteem one day above another, or esteem all days alike holy.

We are aware that a variety of sentiment exists among the good citizens of this nation, on the subject of the sabbath day, and our government is designed for the protection of one, as much as of another. The Jews, who, in this country, are as free as Christians, and entitled to the same protection from the laws, derive their obligation to keep the sabbath day from the fourth commandment of the decalogue, and, in conformity with that injunction, pay religious ho- mage to the seventh day of the week, which we call Saturday. One denomination of Christians among us, justly celebrated for their piety, and certainly as good citizens as any other class, agree with the Jews in the moral obligation of the sabbath, and observe the same day. There are also many Christians among us, who derive not their obligations to observe the sabbath from the decalogue, but regard the Jewish sabbath as abrogated.

From the example of the apostles of Christ, they have chosen the first day of the week, instead of that set apart in the decalogue, for their religious devotions. These have generally regarded the observance of the day as a devotional exercise, and would not more readily enforce it upon others than they would enforce secret prayer or devout meditations. Urging the fact that neither their Lord, nor his disciples, though often censured by their accusers for a violation of the sabbath, ever enjoined its observance, they regard it as a subject on which every person should be fully persuaded in his own mind, and not coerce others to act on his persuasion.

Many Christians, again, differ from these professing to derive their obligation to observe the sabbath from the fourth commandment of the Jewish decalogue, and bring the example of the apostles, who appear to have held their public meetings for worship on the first day of the week, as authority for so far changing the decalogue, as to substitute that day for the seventh. The Jewish government was a theocracy, which enforced religious observances; and though the committee would hope that no portion of the citizens of our country would willingly introduce a system of religious coercion in our civil institutions, the example of odier nations should admonish us to watch carefully against its earliest indications.

With these different religious views, the committee are of pinion that congress cannot interfere. It is not the legitimate province of the legislature to determine what religion is true, or what false. Our government is a civil, not a religious institution. Our constitution recognizes, in every person, the right to choose his own religion, and to enjoy it freely, without molestation. Whatever may be the religious sentiments of citizens, and however variant, they are alike entitled to protection from the government, so long as they do not invade the rights of others.

The transportation of the mail on the first day of the week, it is believed, does not interfere with the rights of conscience. The petitioners for its discontinuance, appear to be actuated by a religious zeal, which may be commendable, if confined to its proper sphere ; but they assume a position better suited to an ecclesiastical, than to a civil institution. They appear, in many instances, to lay it down as an axiom, that the practice is a violation of the law of God. Should congress, in their legislative capacity, adopt the sentiment, it would establish the principle that the legislature is a proper tribunal to determine what are the laws of God.

It would involve a legislative decision in a religious controversy; and, on a point in which good citizens may honestly differ in opinion, without disturbing the peace of society, or endangering its liberties. If this principle is once introduced, it will be impossible to define its bounds. Among all the religious persecutions with which almost every page of modern history is stained, no victim ever suffered, but for the violation of what government denominated the law of God. To prevent a similar train of evils in this country, the constitution has wisely withheld from our government the power of defining the divine law. It is a right reserved to each citizen, and while he respects the equal rights of others, he cannot be held amenable to any human tribunal for his conclusions.

Extensive religious combinations, to effect a political object, are, in the opinion of the committee, always dangerous. This first effort of the kind, calls for the establishment of a principle, which, in the opinion of the committee, would lay the foundation for dangerous innovations upon the spirit of the constitution and upon the religious rights of the citizens. If admitted, it may be justly apprehended that the future measures of government will be strongly marked, if not eventually controlled, by the same influence All religious despotism commences by combination and influence ; and, when that influence begins to operate upon the political institutions of a country, the civil power soon bends under it; and the catastrophe of other nations furnishes an awful warning of the consequences.

Under the present regulations of the post office department, the rights of conscience are not invaded. Every agent enters voluntarily, and, it is presumed, conscientiously, into the discharge of his duties, without intermeddling with the conscience of another. Post offices are so regulated, as that but a small proportion of the fi day of the week is required to be occupied in official business. In the transportation of the mail, on that day, no one agent is employed many hours.

Religious persons enter into the business without violating their own conscience, or imposing any restraints upon others. Passengers in the mail stages are free to rest during the first day of the week, or to pursue their journeys at their own pleasure. While the mail is transported on Saturday, the Jew and the Sabbatarian may abstain from any agency in carrying it from conscientious scruples. While it is transported on the first day of the week, another class may abstain from the same religious scruples. The obligation of government is the same to both these classes ; and the committee can discover no principle on which the claims of one should be more respected than those of the other, unless it should be admitted that the consciences of the minority are less sacred than those of the majority.

It is the opinion of the committee, that the subject should be regarded simply as a question of expediency, irrespective of its religious bearing. In this light, it has, hitherto, been considered. Congress have never legislated upon the subject. It rests, as it ever has done, in the legal discretion of the postmaster general, under the repeated refusals of Congress to discontinue the sabbath mails. His knowledge and judgment, in all the concerns of that department, will not be questioned. His immense labors and assiduity have resulted in the highest improvement of every branch of his department. It is practised only on the great leading mail routes and such others as are necessary to maintain their connexion. To prevent this, would, in the opinion of the committee, be productive of immense injury, both in its commercial, political, and in its moral bearings.

The various departments of government require, frequently, in peace, always in war, the speediest intercourse with the remotest parts of the country; and one important object of the mail establishment is to furnish the greatest and most economical facilities for such intercourse. The delay of the mails one day in seven, would require the imployment of special expresses, at great expense, and sometimes with great uncertainty.

The commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural interests of our country are so intimately connected, as to require a constant and most expeditious correspondence between all seaports, and between them and the most interior settlements. The delay of the mails during the Sunday, would give occasion to the employment of private expresses, to such an amount that probably ten riders would be em- ployed where one mail stage is now running on that day ; thus diverting the revenue of that department into another channel, and sinking the establishment into a state of pusillanimity, incompatible with the dignity of the government of which it is a department.

Passengers in the mail stages, if the mails are not permitted to proceed on Sunday, will be expected to spend that day at a tavern upon the road, generally under circumstances not friendly to devotion, and at an expense which many are but poorly able to encounter. To obviate these difficulties, many will employ extra carriages for their conveyance, and become beavers of correspondence, as more expeditious than the mail. The stage proprietors will themselves often furnish the travellers with those means of conveyance; so that the effect will ultimately be only to stop the mail, while the vehicle, which conveys it, will continue, and its passengers become the special messengers for conveying a considerable proportion of what would, otherwise, constitute the contents of the mail.

Nor can the committee discover where the system could consistently end. If the observance of holydays becomes incorporated in our institutions, shall we not forbid the movement of an army; prohibit an assault in time of war; and lay an injunction upon our naval officers to lie in the wind upon the ocean on that day? Consistency would seem to require it.

Nor is it certain that we should stop here. If the principle is once established, that religion, or religious observances, shall be interwoven with our legislative acts, we must pursue it to its ultimatum. We shall, if consistent, provide for the erection of edifices for the worship of the Creator, and for the support of Christian ministers, if we believe such measures will promote the interests of Christianity. It is the settled conviction of the committee, that the only method of avoiding these consequences, with their attendant train of evils, is to adhere strictly to the spirit of the constitution, which regards the general government in no other light than that of a civil institution, wholly destitute of religious authority.

What other nations call religious toleration, we call religious rights. They are not exercised in virtue of govern- mental indulgence, but as rights, of which government cannot deprive any portion of her citizens, however small. Despotic power may invade those rights, but justice still confirms them. Let the national legislature once perform an act which involves the decision of a religious controversy, and it will have passed its legitimate bounds. The precedent will then be established, and the foundation laid, for that usurpation of divine prerogative in this country, which has been the desolating scourge to the fairest portions of the world. Our constitution recognizes no other power than that of persuasion, for enforcing religious observances.

Let the professors of Christianity recommend their religion by deeds of benevolence — by Christian meekness — by lives of temperance and holiness. Let them combine their efforts to instruct the ignorant — to relieve the widow and the orphan — to promulgate to the world the gospel of the Saviour, recommending its precepts by their habitual example: government will find its legitimate object in protecting them. It cannot oppose them, and they will not need its aid. Their moral influence will do infinitely more to advance the true interests of religion, than any measure which they may call on congress to enact.

The petitioners do not complain of any infringement upon their own rights. They enjoy all that Christians ought to ask at the hand of any government — protection from molestation in the exercise of their religious sentiments.

Resolved, That the committee be discharged from the further consideration of the subject.

In the House of Representatives of the United States, March 4, 1830, Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, made the following Report.

The Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads, to whom the Memorials were referred for prohibiting the transportation of the Mails, and the opening of Post Offices. on Sundays, report —

That the memorialists regard the first day of the week as a day set apart by the Creator for religious exercises ; and consider the transportation of the mail, and the opening of the post offices, on that day, the violation of a religious duty, and call for a suppression of the practice. Others, by counter memorials, are known to entertain a different sentiment, believing that no one day of the week is holier than another. Others, holding the universality and immutability of the Jewish decalogue, believe in the sanctity of the seventh day of the week as a day of religious devotion; and by their memorial now before the committee, they also request that it may be set apart for religious purposes. Each has hitherto been left to the exercise of his own opinion ; and it has been regarded as the proper business of government to protect all, and determine for none. But the attempt is now made to bring about a greater uniformity, at least, in practice ; and, as argument has failed, the government has been called upon to interpose its authority to settle the controversy.

Congress acting under a constitution of delegated and limited powers. The committee look in vain to that instrument for a delegation of power authorizing this body to inquire and determine what part of time, or whether any, has been set apart by the Almighty for religious exercises. On the contrary, among the few prohibitions which it contains, is one that prohibits a religious test; and another which de- clares that congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there- of. The committee might here rest the argument, upon the ground that the question referred to themj does not come within the cognizance of congress ; but the perseverance and zeal with which the memorialists pursue their object, seems to require a further elucidation of the subject. And, as the opposers of Sunday mails disclaim all intention to unite church and state, the committee do not feel disposed to impugn their motives ; and whatever may be advanced in opposition to the measure, will arise from the fears enter- tained of its fatal tendency to the peace and happiness of the nation. The catastrophe of other nations, furnished the framers of the constitution a beacon of awful warning, and they have evinced the greatest possible care in guarding against the same evil.

The law, as it now exists, makes no distinction as to the days of the week, but it is imperative that the post masters shall attend at all reasonable hours, in every day, to perform the duties of their offices ; and the post master general has given his instructions to all post masters, that, at post offices, where the mail arrives on Sunday, the office is to be kept open one hour, or more, after the arrival and assorting the mail ; but in case that would interfere with the hours of public worship, the office is to be kept open for one hour after the usual time of dissolving the meeting

This liberal construction of the law does not satisfy the memorialists. but the committee believe that there is no just ground of complaint, unless it be conceded that they have controlling power over the consciences of others. If congress shall, by the authority of law, sanction the measure recommended, it would constitute a legislative decision of a religious controversy, in which even Christians themselves are at issue. However suited such a decision may be to an eccleasiastical council, it is incompatible with a republican legislature, which is purely for political, and not religious purposes.

In our individual character, we all entertain opinions, and pursue a corresponding practice, upon the subject of religion. However diversified these may be, we all harmonize as citizens, while each is willing that the other shall enjoy the same liberty which he claims for himself. But in our representative character, our individual character is lost. The individual acts for himself; the representative, for his constituents. He is chosen to rep resent their political, and not their religious views — to guard the rights of man; not to restrict the rights of conscience. Despots may regard their subjects as their property, and usurp the divine prerogative of prescribing their religious faith. But the history of the world furnishes the melancholy demonstration that the disposition of one man to coerce the religious homage of another, springs from an unchastened ambition, rather than a sincere devotion to any religion. The principles of our government do not recognize in the majority, any authority over the minority, except in matters which regard the conduct of man to his fellow man. A Jewish monarch, by grasping the holy censer, lost both his sceptre and his freedom ; a destiny as little to be envied, may be the lot of the American people, who hold the sovereignty of power, if they, in the person of their representatives, shall attempt to unite, in the remotest degree, church and state.

From the earliest period of time, religious teachers have attained great ascendency over the minds of the people ; and in every nation, ancient or modern, whether Pagan, Mahometan, or Christian, have succeeded in the incorporation of their religious tenets with the political institutions of their country. The Persian idols, the Grecian oracles, the Roman auguries, and the modern priesthood of Europe, have all, in their turn, been the subject of popular adulation, and the agents of political deception. If the measures recom- mended should be adopted, it would be difficult for human sagacity to foresee how rapid would be the succession, or how numerous the train of measures which might follow, involving the dearest rights of all — the rights of conscience. It is, perhaps, fortunate for our country that the proposition should have been made at this early period, while the spirit of the revolution yet exists in full vigor. Religious zeal enlists the strongest prejudices of the human mind: and, when misdirected, excites the worst passions of our nature, under the delusive pretext of doing God service. Nothing so infuriates the heart to deeds of rapine and blood ;nothing is so incessant in its toils ; so persevering in its de- termination ; so appalling in its course; or so dangerous in its consequences. The equality of rights secured by the constitution, may bid defiance to mere political tyrants : but the robe of sanctity too often glitters to deceive. The constitution regards the conscience of the Jew as sacred as that of the Christian; and gives no more authority to adopt a measure affecting the conscience of a solitary individual, than that of a whole community. That representative who would violate this principle, would lose his delegated character, and forfeit the confidence of his constituents. If congress shall declare the first day of the week holy, it will not convince the Jew nor the Sabbatarian. It will dissatisfy both; and, consequently, convert neither. Human power may extort vain sacrifices ; but deity alone can command the affections of the heart. It must be recollected that in the earliest settlement of this country, the spirit of persecution which drove the pilgrims from their native home, was brought with them to their new habitations; and that some Christians were scourged, and others put to death, for no other crime than dissenting from the dogmas of their rulers.

With these facts before us, it must be a subject of deep regret that a question should be brought before congress,
which involves the dearest privileges of the constitution, and even by those who enjoy its choicest blessings. We should all recollect that Cataline, a professed patriot, was a traitor to Rome; Arnold, a professed whig, was a traitor to America; and Judas, a professed disciple, was a traitor to his divine master.

With the exception of the United States, the whole human race, consisting, it is supposed, of eight hundred millions of rational beings, is in religious bondage; and, in reviewing the scenes of persecution which history everywhere presents, unless the committee could believe that the cries of the burning victim, and the flames by which he is consumed, bear to heaven a grateful incense, the conclusion is inevitable that the line cannot be too strongly drawn between church and state. If a solemn act of legislation shall, in one point, define the law of God, or point out to the citizen one religious duty, it may, with equal propriety, proceed to de- fine every part of divine revelation ; and enforce every religious obligation, even to the forms and ceremonies of worship ; the endowment of the church, and the support of the clergy.

It was with a kiss that Judas betrayed his divine master, and we should all be admonished, — no matter what our faith may be, that the rights of conscience cannot be so success- fully assailed, as under the pretext of holiness. The Chris- tian religion made its way into the world in opposition to all human governments. Banishment, tortures, and death, were inflicted in vain to stop its progress. But many of its professors, as soon as clothed with political power, lost the meek spirit which their creed inculcates, and began to in- flict on other religions, and on dissenting sects of their own religion, persecutions more aggravated than those which their own apostles had endured. The ten persecutions of Pagan emperors, were exceeded in atrocity by the massacres and murders perpetrated by Christian hands; and in vain shall we examine the records of imperial tyranny for an engine of cruelty equal to the holy inquisition. Every
religious sect, however meek in its origin, commenced this work of persecution as soon as it acquired political power. The framers of the constitution recognized the eternal principle, that man’s relation with his God is above human legislation, and his rights of conscience unalienable. Reasoning was not necessary to establish this truth ; we are conscious of it in our own bosoms. It is this consciousness which, in defiance of human laws, has sustained so many martyrs in tortures and in flames. They felt that their duty to God was superior to human enactments, and that man could exercise no authority over their consciences ; it is an inborn principle which nothing can eradicate.

The bigot, in the pride of his authority, may lose sight of it — but strip him of his power ; prescribe a faith to him which his conscience rejects ; threaten him in turn with the dungeon and the faggot; and the spirit which God had implanted in him, rises up in rebellion and defies you. Did the primitive Christians ask that government should recognize and observe their religious institutions 1 All they asked was toleration ; all they complained of, was persecution. What did the protestants of Germany, or the Hugenots of France, ask of their catholic superiors 1 Toleration. What do the persecuted Catholics of Ireland ask of their oppressors? Toleration.

Do all men in this country enjoy every religious right which martyrs and saints ever asked 1 Whence, then, the voice of complaint 1 Who is it, that, in full enjoyment of every principle which human laws can secure, wishes to wrest a portion of these principles from his neighbor’? Do the petitioners allege that they cannot conscientiously participate in the profits of the mail contracts and post offices, because the mail is carried on Sunday 1 If this be their motive, then it is worldly gain which stimulates to action. and not virtue or religion. Do they complain that men, less conscientious in relation to the sabbath, obtain advantages over them, by receiving their letters and attending to their contents % Still their motive is worldly and selfish. But, if their motive be to induce congress to sanction, by law, their religious opinions and observances, then their efforts are to be resisted, as in their tendency fatal, both to religious and political freedom. Why have the petitioners confined their prayer to the mails 1 Why have they not requested to suspend all its executive functions on that day “? Why do they not require us to enact that our ships shall not sail 1 that our armies shall not march 1 that officers of justice shall not seize the suspected, to guard the convicted 1 They seem to forget that government is as necessary on Sunday as on any other day of the week. The spirit of evil does not rest on that day. It is the government, ever active in its functions, which enables us all, even the petitioners, to worship in our churches in peace.

Our government furnishes very few blessings like our mails. They bear from the centre of our republic to its distant extremes, the acts of our legislative bodies, the decisions of the judiciary, and the orders of the executive. Their speed is often essential to the defence of the country, the suppression of crime, and the dearest interests of the people. Were they suppressed one day of the week, their absence must be often supplied by public expresses ; and besides, while the mail bags might rest, the mail coaches would pur- sue their journey with the passengers. The mail bears, from one extreme of the Union to the other, letters of rela- tives and friends, preserving a communion of heart between those far separated, and increasing the most pure and refined pleasures of our existence; also, the letters of commercial men convey the state of the markets, prevent ruinous speculations, and promote general, as well as individual, interest ; they bear innumerable religious letters, newspapers, magazines, and tracts, which reach almost every house throughout this wide republic. Is the conveyance of these a violation of the sabbath.

The advance of the human race in intelligence, in virtue, and religion itself, depends in part upon the speed with whicn a knowledge of the past is disseminated. Withont an inter- change between one country and another, between different sections of the same country, every improvement in moral or political science, and the arts of life, would be confined to the neighborhood where it originated. The more rapid and the more frequent this interchange, the more rapid will be the march of intellect, and the progress of improvement. The mail is the chief means by which intellectual light irradiates to the extremes of the republic. Stop it one day in seven and you retard one seventh the advancement of our country. So far from stopping the mail on Sunday, the committee would recommend the use of all reasonable means to give it a greater expedition and a greater extension. What would be the elevation of our country, if every new conception could be made to strike every mind in the Union at the same time’? It is not the distance of a province or state from the seat of government, which endangers its separation ; but it is the difficulty and unfrequency of intercourse between them.

Our mails reach Missouri and Arkansas in less time than they reached Kentucky and Ohio in the infancy of their settlements ; and now, when there are three millions of people extending a thousand miles west of the Allegany, we hear less of discontent, then when there were a few thousand scattered along their western base.

To stop the mails one day in seven would be to thrust the whole western country, and other distant parts of the republic, one day’s journey from the seat of government. But were it expedient to put an end to the transmission of letters and newspapers on Sunday, because it violates the law of God, have not the petitioners begun wrong in their efforts.

If the arm of government be necessary to compel men to res- pect and obey the laws of God, do not the state governments possess infinitely more power in this respect. Let the peti- tioners turn to them, and see if they can induce the passage of
laws to respect the observance of the sabbath : for, if it be sin- ful for the mail to carry letters on Sunday; it must be equally sinful for individuals to write, carry, receive, or read them. It would seem to require that these acts should be made penal,
to complete the system. Travelling on business or recreation, except to and from church ; all printing, carrying, receiving, and reading of newspapers ; all conversations and social inter- course, except upon religious subjects, must necessarily be punished to suppress the evil. Would it not also follow, as an inevitable consequence, that every man, woman, and child, should be compelled to attend meeting and, as only one sect, in the opinion of some, can be deemed orthodox, must it not be determined, by law, which that is, and compel all to hear those teachers, and contribute to their support? If minor punishments would restrain the Jew, or the Sabbatarian, or the infidel, who believes Saturday to be the subbath. or disbelieves the whole, would not the same require that we should resort to imprisonment, punishment, the rack, and the faggot, to force men to violate their own consciences, or compel them to listen to doctrines which they abhor?

When the state governments shall have yielded to these measures, it will be time enough for congress to declare that the rattling of the mail coaches shall no longer break the silence of this despotism. It is a duty of this government to afford to all — to the Jew or Gentile, Pagan or Christian, the protection and advantages of our benignant institutions, on Sunday, as well as
every other day of the week. Although this government will not convert itself into an ecclesiastical tribunal, it will practice upon the maxim laid down by the founder of Christianity — that it is lawful to do good on the sabbath day. If the Almighty has set apart the first day of the week as time which man is bound to keep holy, and devote exclusively to his worship, would it not be more congenial to the precepts of Christians, to appeal exclusively to the great lawgiver of the universe to aid them in making men better, in correcting their practices by purifying their hearts 1 Government will protect them in their efforts. When they shall have so instruct- ed the public mind, and awakened the consciences of individuals, as to make them believe that it is a violation of God’s law to carry the mail, open post offices, or receive letters, on Sunday, the evil of which they complain will cease of itself, without any exertion of the strong arm of civil power. When man undertakes to be God’s avenger, he becomes a demon.

Driven by the frenzy of a religious zeal, he looses every gentle feeling ; forgets the most sacred precepts of his creed ; and becomes ferocious and unrelenting.

Our fathers did not wait to be oppressed, when the mother country asserted and exercised an unconstitutional power over them. To have acquiesced in the tax of three pence upon a pound of tea, would have led the way to the most cruel exactions; they took a bold stand against the principle, and liberty and independence were the result. The petitioners have not requested congress to suppress Sunday mails upon the ground of political expediency, but because they violate the sanctity of the first day of the week.

This being the fact, and the petitioners having indignantly disclaimed even the wish to unite politics and religion, may not the committee reasonably cherish the hope that they will feel reconciled to its decision, in the case ; especially, as it is also a fact, that the counter memorials, equally respectable, oppose the interference of congress, upon the ground that it would be legislating upon a religious subject, and therefore unconstitutional.

Resolved, That the committee be discharged from the further consideration of the subject.

Have a Koch and a Smile

Well, that was a nice little sabbatical.

Last time I wrote, President Obama was re-elected. I stopped writing. It’s not that I threw in the towel. It’s just that this medium didn’t seem to be as much fun as it used to be.

Lately, though, I’ve been looking lately for a reason to jump back in.

Enter Charles Koch.

On April 2, Koch wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined “I’m Fighting to Restore a Free Society.” And it’s so. Much. Fun.

He begins: “I have devoted most of my life to understanding the principles that enable people to improve their lives. It is those principles—the principles of a free society—that have shaped my life, my family, our company and America itself.”

Actually, the principles that have “shaped” Koch’s life, his family, etc., are those of the John Birch society, of which his father was a founder.

This is an organization that promoted the bizarre notion that President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a five-star general, was a communist.

Sound familiar?

He continued: “Unfortunately, the fundamental concepts of dignity, respect, equality before the law and personal freedom are under attack by the nation’s own government.”

No, they’re not.

“A truly free society is based on a vision of respect for people and what they value. In a truly free society, any business that disrespects its customers will fail, and deserves to do so.”

Let’s see if General Motors sticks around following the revelation that it ignored signs of a faulty ignition switch in its cars that ended up killing 12 people.

I betcha it does just fine, though I would say that killing your customers is sort of on the par of, you know, disrespecting them.

“The central belief and fatal conceit of the current administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of big government and collectivism.”

No, it isn’t.

“More than 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson warned that this could happen. ‘The natural progress of things,’ Jefferson wrote, ‘is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.’ He knew that no government could possibly run citizens’ lives for the better.”

When I see a Founding Father quote used, you know, I just have to research it. This one is genuine, though, as often happens, it is taken wildly out of context.

Jefferson penned this in a letter to Col. Edward Carrington, a fellow Virginian and a delegate to the Continental Congress. As one can actually read, Jefferson’s concern at the time was that his colleagues would give in to a hysteria to crown George Washington as King of America, as many, including John Adams, wanted to do. Jefferson specifically addresses “the principle of necessary rotation, particularly to the Senate and Presidency: but most of all to the last.” Jefferson wasn’t warning anyone about “collectivism.”

He was arguing for Article II of the Constitution.

Koch then writes: “The more government tries to control, the greater the disaster, as shown by the current health-care debacle.”

Just because you keep saying it doesn’t mean it will ever be true. The stated purpose of health care reform was to provide coverage for more people. More people have been covered.


“Collectivists (those who stand for government control of the means of production and how people live their lives) promise heaven but deliver hell. For them, the promised end justifies the means.”

This is the portion of Koch’s column that chaps my ass most.

I shall say this slowly and with feeling: Nobody, at least nobody who anyone should take seriously, wants the government to make your blue jeans. Anyone who says they fear communism or socialism lurking behind every corner is spewing nonsense.

I personally have talked several people down from the “health care reform is socialism” ledge. That I have had to do so speaks to the concentrated power of propaganda like the op-ed column I am reviewing.

But they got talked down. Some of them even got covered. And, in doing so, I imagine they were disabused of the notion that what we’re talking about is “socialism” in any regard.

Adding 7 – 10 million more, kids, and you’ve poked a pretty big hole in that balloon.

That idea doesn’t float anymore, Mr. Koch.

Koch goes on for several paragraphs to defend Koch Industries’ corporate record, which I am not writing here to analyze. It is the dogmatic nonsense that sets me seething. And Koch, and his forum the Wall Street Journal, has certainly not failed to disappoint.

Thanks! I forgot how much fun that was!