Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom Day 2011

Happy Freedom Day, everybody!

Today is a day which every American should use each year to ponder what it means to be free people, and to reflect on the history of the United States - particularly the Enlightenment revolution that brought us national sovereignty and a Bill of Rights almost unique in the history of humanity.

Adam Kokesh would like you to wear black today (which I will probably be doing as a matter of course regardless, oddly enough) and talk to people about the freedoms we've lost, but I don't think that's the best way to celebrate this holiday.

It's no secret that most Americans have a knee-jerk belief that the United States is a "free" country, and indeed... as kind of a goofy project, the Daily Caller's senior editor, Jamie Weinstein and I went out to the washington Mall the other day and asked people why America was so awesome.

It's pretty short, so check that video out now:

The vast majority of responses we got were just simply "Freedom". Not that I'd expect much else for the kind of question and the tone in which it was asked, but there are two really interesting sides to this topic...

There's the Kokesh approach... which is to (rather correctly, unfortunately) say, "Bullshit! America isn't the land of the free at all!", and be bitter about the state of liberty in America. But there's another approach - a more optimistic one - and that's the one I think I will be taking today.

Consider that regardless of how knee-jerk the responses (and not all of them were), the truth is that virtually all Americans recognize - however superficially - that it isn't government, welfare, wars (although we did get one response claiming that America was great because of soldiers), or any of the other junk people often would like us to believe makes America "great". Nope... On at least some level, most Americans do get that it's their freedom that makes their country special.

Now... It's true that America is hardly the free country that it was, or that it should aspire to be.

We're now effectively living George W. Bush's third term in office... with added helpings of Italian-style corporatism/fascism (and yes, a wee bit of attempted socialism) thrown into the mix. President Obama & Congress have put into place economic policies which have left markets less certain and less free than they have been in decades, our domestic policies are abysmal...

The PATRIOT Act has been renewed again & again, Obama's administration is one of the least transparent we've ever seen (in spite of receiving an award nearly as ironic as his Nobel Peace Prize for transparency), his Justice Department has taken up the mantle of defending warrant-less wiretapping, indefinite detentions, and as astounding as this may seem, the President who so many on the "left" thought was going to be better on civil rights and war issues has even taken to authorizing the direct assassination of American citizens without trial.

Not to mention, this is the same president who has not only escalated the US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan (and yes, he eventually decreased the presence to some degree in Iraq), but also gotten the US involved in a brand new war in Libya! Special bonus: Not only is the Libya war completely undeclared and unapproved by Congress (Obama, the "constitutional scholar" claims he doesn't need Congressional approval anyway), it comes after Obama expanded military aid to Gaddhafi's government over the last couple years. Fun times!

The worst part of that? The aircraft that Gaddhafi's forces are using to suppress resistance right now were probably paid for by the US government...

From the Congressional Research Service report (article linked above):
"The Obama administration also requested Foreign Military Financing assistance for Libya for the first time in FY2010, with the goal of providing assistance to the Libyan Air Force in developing its air transport capabilities and to the Libyan Coast Guard in improving its coastal patrol and search and rescue operations," the report said.

The administration also approved a Libyan request for the modernization of Gadhafi's air transport fleet. Libya acquired 10 U.S.-origin C-130 aircraft, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, in 1970.
And of course, this isn't mentioning a bit of the military actions our troops are engaged in in other parts of the world like Somalia, Pakistan, etc.

If you're a "conservative" reading this, as many of my co-workers are, perhaps you won't see all of that as a bad thing - at least, you might argue, it's defending "America and her interests". I patently disagree with that assessment, but I can actually see how people who aren't effected by bombs being lobbed into countries 7,000 miles away could ignore their government's activities abroad. It's hard to see the effects first-hand, so unfortunately, a lot of people just aren't going to care.

What's really shocking is the number of people who ignore the declining liberty in their own backyards.

I write about these issues all the time, so it's easy for me to make lists like this - but we are less free today than we were last year to choose all manner of goods and services that effect our lives... from things as basic as food, to things as innocuous as the tires we put on our cars. Our banking system, is now not only less free (and please make no mistake, it wasn't remotely free to begin with), the legal structure encompassing banks is now even more complicated than ever. Our monetary base has shot up astronomically, and although we haven't seen the negative price effects of the Fed's monetary policy that much yet - we certainly will in due time.

Of all things, Obama - a man who has openly admitted to use of cocaine and marijuana, and whose Justice Department said they would stop going after non-violent drug offenders a couple years ago, particularly in states that have some level of legalized use like California - has recently cracked down harder than ever on people who's only "crime" was be in possession of the wrong kind of plant.

Here in Washington DC, people can be - and are - fairly violently arrested for dancing... Because, you know, there's no more murder, rape, theft, or any other kind of crime in the city nowadays. There's just so much that is so overwhelmingly headed in the wrong direction in America that it's hard to know where to begin... or end.

Yet as Daniel Hannan said when I filmed this interview with him (released today), the threats are almost all from within:

One thing I doubt most Americans properly understand is how dire a predicament we're actually in as a nation, both in terms of our finances and in terms of the policies that are preventing us from actually seeing real economic success. The wars cost us billions of dollars that we don't have every day... but so too does our ever expanding welfare state, and all the while, the regulatory and tax environment in the United States pushes more and more businesses out of the country, and discourages an untold number of potential entrepreneurs from even taking that great leap of faith to begin with.

With all these problems, it can sometimes seem hopeless.

But the one thing that I think just might be America's saving grace is that many of the American people do fundamentally understand that freedom is the key to our success. I do hope that it's enough.

In the meantime... Enjoy today. Regardless of what America is right now - today is about freedom, and that's what matters. In celebration of that freedom, go light some fireworks... Mary Katharine Ham & I encourage it!

Fun with Fireworks

And by the way, if you're going to light fireworks today, don't be a moron. Freedom also means responsibility... So don't burn down anyone's house. K? Cool.

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