John William Finn was an amazing man. He passed away earlier this year just shy of 101 years of age. He was a military hero admired by the tens of thousands of service men and women who met him over the years, as well as the many thousands of people who never had the opportunity to meet him, but who had heard of, or read, his story. He was also a much-beloved husband, father, foster father, uncle, and neighbor. Alice, his devoted wife of nearly 60 years, died in 1998. He continued to live the simple rural life in the rustic home on their Pine Valley ranch near the California-Mexico border east of San Diego.
True history is not served if all that is remembered about December 7 is that it is the 61st anniversary of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. On that day America lost 18 naval vessels including eight battleships, 188 airplanes, over 2,000 servicemen — and its innocence about government lies, coverups, and deceit.
It should surprise no one that someone who had served in the Eisenhower administration would call FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's attention to the charge made by John Birch Society founder Robert Welch that President Dwight Eisenhower was aiding and abetting the worldwide Communist conspiracy. But it might be surprising to learn that the cabinet official thought Welch was right, at least in the effect the Eisenhower policies were having in advancing rather than containing Communism and ultimately "rolling back the Iron Curtain" — as Republicans said they would do in winning the White House and gaining effective control of Congress in the 1952 elections.
One of the many stories that grew out of John F. Kennedy’s aborted term as President has to do with an idle question put to him by a reporter aboard Air Force One. What would happen, the reporter wondered, if the plane went down, killing all on board?
Long ago scholars identified the arches and loops of John Locke’s fingerprints on the writings of James Madison. Evidence of this influence is often noted in Madison’s espousal of Lockean liberalism in the arguments set forth in the Federalist, particularly Federalist, No. 51. That Madison benefited from Locke’s analysis of the machine of government and its relationship to the virtue of a people is indisputable, but to describe all Madisonian philosophy as some sort of diluted mimicry of Lockean principles is lazy and incorrect. Madison, it has been said, was a “profoundly original thinker” and “no mere follower of the philosophers.” The design of this article, however, is not to expose the originality of Madison’s thinking; rather it is to note how in regard to his view of religious toleration (a term Madison despised as being, as Thomas Paine said, “not the opposite of intolerance, but the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, the other of granting it.”)
Is it merely a coincidence that Election Day comes so soon after Halloween? The voting is always in early November, perhaps in consideration of farmers who may be busy harvesting crops through October. Whatever the reason, the campaigns are at or near their climax as witches, ghosts, and goblins appear on the scene and horror movies are on the TV and movie screens to try to scare the populace more than the politicians do. It's a tough challenge for the ghoulish creatures, since the candidates tend to run for high office on the principle that fright makes right.
As a requirement of modern life, we contract others to do things for us that naturally lie within our own power. Someone builds our house, for example. We cede that bit of our natural right to a contractor over whom we exercise some level of ongoing oversight.
With the reckless activities of the Federal Reserve and the United States Treasury over the past several years, some among the punditry are starting to fret that America may soon find herself engulfed by high inflation or even hyperinflation. The former has been a scourge since time immemorial wherever improvident governments chose to debase the value of their own currency. The latter — the catastrophic decline in a currency’s value, manifested by consumer price increases by hundreds or thousands of percent or more over a brief interval — has wreaked financial and social havoc on empires large and small for millennia, bringing post-World War I Germany to its knees in the 1920s, overthrowing the government of Argentina in the 1980s, and driving once-prosperous Zimbabwe into utter ruin in the current decade.
A Google search of the word “treason” reveals most of the results use the word in context of applying the label to President Obama’s program of nationalizing significant sectors of the American economy. There was a time in our nation’s history, however, when one of our finest patriot fathers is said to have waved the saber of “treason” in the face of the world’s most powerful monarch. And, in return, his fellow Burgesses exclaimed that the patriot was committing treason. That brave (some would say, given the circumstances, reckless) man was the incomparable Patrick Henry.