Archive for January, 2013

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John Adams knew his stuff…and knew us.

January 16, 2013

John Adams was never my favorite of the Founding Fathers. His antipathy to the Roman Catholic Church, in particular, seems to be at odds with his beliefs in Religious Freedom, and bothers me. He was not, however, as many have suggested, a Deist, not in the mold of Thomas Jefferson. He did seem to believe in the active participation of God in the affairs of men.

However, ponder these:

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
Letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), “The Works of John Adams”, vol 9, p.511.

Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.
Letter to Zabdiel Adams (21 June 1776).

The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.
Letter to Abigail Adams (12 May 1780).

All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.
Letter to Thomas Jefferson (23 August 1787), The Works of John Adams.

The History of our Revolution will be one continued Lye from one end to the other. The essence of the whole will be that Dr. Franklins electrical Rod, smote the Earth and out sprung General Washington. That Franklin electrified him with his rod—and thence forward these two conducted all the Policy, Negotiations, Legislatures and War.
Letter to Benjamin Rush, 4 April 1790. Alexander Biddle, Old Family Letters, Series A (Philadelphia: 1892), p. 55

While our country remains untainted with the principles and manners which are now producing desolation in so many parts of the world; while she continues sincere, and incapable of insidious and impious policy, we shall have the strongest reason to rejoice in the local destination assigned us by Providence. But should the people of America once become capable of that deep simulation towards one another, and towards foreign nations, which assumes the language of justice and moderation, while it is practising iniquity and extravagance, and displays in the most captivating manner the charming pictures of candour, frankness, and sincerity, while it is rioting in rapine and insolence, this country will be the most miserable habitation in the world. Because we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Oaths in this country are as yet universally considered as sacred obligations. That which you have taken, and so solemnly repeated on that venerable ground, is an ample pledge of your sincerity and devotion to your country and its government.
Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6. There are some differences in the version that appeared in The Works of John Adams (Boston, 1854), vol. 9, pp. 228-9, most notably the words “or gallantry” instead of “and licentiousness”.

Property must be secured, or liberty cannot exist. But if unlimited or unbalanced power of disposing property, be put into the hands of those who have no property, France will find, as we have found, the lamb committed to the custody of the wolf. In such a case, all the pathetic exhortations and addresses of the national assembly to the people, to respect property, will be regarded no more than the warbles of the songsters of the forest. The great art of law-giving consists in balancing the poor against the rich in the legislature, and in constituting the legislative a perfect balance against the executive power, at the same time that no individual or party can become its rival. The essence of a free government consists in an effectual control of rivalries. The executive and the legislative powers are natural rivals; and if each has not an effectual control over the other, the weaker will ever be the lamb in the paws of the wolf. The nation which will not adopt an equilibrium of power must adopt a despotism. There is no other alternative. Rivalries must be controlled, or they will throw all things into confusion; and there is nothing but despotism or a balance of power which can control them.
No. 13, Discourses on Davilia, 1790

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I hope this isn’t one of those “things happen in threes”

January 14, 2013

Yeah, I’m a middle-aged white guy. That used to mean, in the Chicago area, at least, that I would automatically have to listen to WGN radio. I never did, though. I work in a music field, at least part of the time. So if I have a radio station on it will be a talk station, not a music station.

In the 1980s and early 90s I listened to WLUP-AM when it was in its heyday – Jon Brandmeier, Steve Dahl and Garry Meier, and especially Kevin Matthews. (I’m sure some are spelled incorrectly. Not looking them up right now, sorry.)

Anyway, WLUP turned into ESPN Radio suddenly one day, and I moved to WLS-AM because that was the station where Rush Limbaugh was broadcast. I’ve pretty much stuck with them. They have a conservative slant, and I appreciate it. I don’t listen to Roe and Roeper much in the afternoons, but I used to listen to Don Wade and Roma a lot in the morning, and the the sort of rotating local hosts that inhabited the 9-11 AM slot. Nobody stayed on there more than two or three years, I think.

Anyway, last fall Don Wade had a stroke and he and wife Roma were off the air while he started his recovery. They decided not to return to the air a few weeks ago. Don is improving but the early morning hours had to be tough, and they did it for decades. Bruce Wolf and Dan Proft moved from the 9-11 slot to the early morning drive, and seem to have been working out pretty well. That time slot was then filled by Jake Hartford, who had done weekend  fill-in for some time for WLS, with John Kass, a well-known Chicago Tribune columnist.

Jake Hartford (real name Jim Edwards) passed away yesterday of a heart attack at the age of 63. He had a long and varied – and very successful – career in radio and TV, much of which I never knew because he was a behind-the-scenes guy much of the time. I am saddened by his passing and I really hope this is not one of those “things happen in threes” situations. Neither Don Wade nor Jake Hartford were in poor health prior to their medical incidents, and for me, in my late 50s, it’s another warning of my own mortality.

Anyway, my condolences to Jake’s family. I’ve listened to these folks for years and years and while they didn’t know me, after listening almost every day I feel like I know them a little. It’s kind of unnerving.