Author: Benjamin Franklin
Autobiography, Poor Richard, and Later
This fine volume from the wonderful Library of America is a collection of the great Benjamin Franklin's later writings. It is the second volume of what used to be a single huge book from the LOA. This volume begins with Franklin's letters from his time as a diplomat in London, and then his pamphlets, political satires, and other writings when he represented our Revolutionary Government from 1776-1785 from Paris at the doomed court of Louis VI. His writings from the Constitutional Convention and writings from Philadelphia after his return to the United States are also included. Probably the most popular items included will be the Preface and Maxims of the Poor Richard's Almanac and the FOUR parts of his autobiography. Franklin is simply an amazing man.
Benjamin Franklin is one of the great icons of the American Founding. He is truly one of the essential men who built our nation and deserves praise we can heap on him. When we see images of the founders, they are all shown as old men, not how old they were in 1776. Franklin was really a generation older than most of the firebrands who led the Revolution. He was seventy when he signed the Declaration of Independence (John Adams was 41, George Washington 44, and Thomas Jefferson 33 on July 4, 1776) and eighty-one when he signed our Constitution as a member of the delegation from Pennsylvania. He was an amazing man. He was a successful printer, inventor, philanthropist, revolutionary, diplomat, and all around student of the world.
This book is interesting to dip into and read just those portions that interest you, as well as reading its more than 800 pages front to back. It has great notes on the text that provide contextual and translation help as well as sources, a most interesting chronology of Franklin's long and productive life, and an index.
This certainly is a must have for your shelf on the history of America's Founding.
THE DEBATE ON THE CONSTITUTION – PART ONE
Edited By: Bernard Bailyn
Federalist and Anti-federalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters during the Struggle over Ratification
Editor Bernard Bailyn has assembled a first-rate collection of letters, circulars, pamphlets, speeches, and what would be the colonial equivalent of modern op-ed pieces that allows today's readers to witness the founding of a government through the eyes of (and with the voices of) those who were really there. But don't be fooled into thinking this is going to be the stilted, polite prose that often belongs to 18th century philosophers or debaters. Many of the pieces Bailyn has selected are remarkably spry and teeming with understated wit.
Those who think that mud-slinging, negative campaigning, and assaults on the integrity of the opponent are modern day creations may be surprised to see that those in the 18th century could be just as nitpicky, petty, and ascorbic as their present day descendants -- and yet still remain surprisingly gentlemanly about the whole thing. Some letter writers absolutely seethe with irritation at their opposition, and by presenting his debaters in roughly chronological order, Bailyn ensures that for every "Oh yeah?" uttered by a Federalist, there will soon be a responsive "Yeah!" from the anti-Federalist side. It all makes for lively and informative reading, and one wonders if such a critical debate could be carried out with such manners in today's media.
It should come as no surprise that most of the Hamilton-Madison-Jay Federalist Papers are in here, as are the level-headed, persuasive anti-Federalist arguments of James Wilson and George Mason. But the real jewels in these volumes lie in the thoughtful and frank correspondence that passed back and forth between not only the Major Players, but also between some of the lesser-known writers, who make their cases for or against the Constitution with genuine passion and conviction.
Bailyn wisely leaves the spin to the writers themselves, but when he does step in, Bailyn is a most helpful editor, and the final 240 pages contain short biographies of every writer (or letter recipient) in the book, an informative chronology of events (and Bailyn makes sure readers have a perspective for the debates in this book by starting the chronology in 1774, some 13 years before the first words in this book were spoken), and competent notes on the text to help readers unfamiliar with some of the players or events keep everything sorted out.
Even though we all have the luxury of knowing that Everything Came Out All Right In The End -- the Constitution was ratified -- there is still quite a bit of drama here, particularly in the debates in the State Ratifying Conventions, which are carried out with suitable handwringing and bluster on both sides. Appropriately, then, the final piece in here is the dramatic speech the previously skeptical John Hancock delivered in the Massachusetts convention, informing his colleagues he would, indeed, vote for ratification. Hancock's words are as stirring now as they were then -- but I'll let you read them for yourself.
If you have the opportunity, purchase both Volumes I and II together. Not only will you get the complete debates (Volume I ends in February 1788; volume II is needed to make it to August), but you'll also get one of the Library of America's typically attractive slip-cases. It's a little more expensive, but worth it.
THE DEBATE ON THE CONSTITUTION - PART TWO
Edited By: Bernard Bailyn
Federalist and Anti-federalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters during the Struggle over Ratification
Of all the wonderful volumes the Library of America has provided to us, I value the volumes on our founding, our founders and their writings, and the documents from the period to help us understand our history with a richer context. These two volumes provide more than 2,000 pages of letters, newspaper articles, pamphlets, and journals from dozens of writers who made important comments, pro and con, for the ratification of our Constitution. You can get volume 1 here: The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Ant federalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification : Part One, September 1787-February 1788 (Library of America)
The Constitutional Convention was originally assigned to correct a few problems with the Articles of Confederation (which are included along with the Declaration of Independence, the Letter from the Constitutional Convention to the President of Congress, Resolutions of the Convention Concerning the Ratification and Implementation of the Constitution, and The Constitution itself), but the Convention set about creating a new and stronger General Government. What the nature of this should be was debated. According to Madison, some wanted to abolish the states altogether while others wanted a severely constrained General Government. Some wanted the states to have a Constitution check on the actions of the Federal Government.
I was not aware how profoundly much of the population hated the idea of a central government and their reasoning for what might come of it. You know, given where we are today, we can see that their fears were well founded. This debate, for and against the Constitution, provides us with a great deal of context for what our founders meant by our Constitution. Much of the telling of the founding in our public schools, classes, on television, and used as justification by our politicians has almost no basis in fact. They just ignore the realities of what was said, written, and promised to do whatever it is they want to do.
These volumes also provide snapshot biographies of each of the writers whose works are cited in this volume, an article examining the state Constitutions at the time our Constitution was written, and a chronology from the beginning of our Revolutionary War through 1803. We are also given notes on the texts and a most helpful index.
I urge you to get both volumes and study them a bit each day. While it will take you a long time to get through this large volume of material, you will probably, like me, be surprised by what was said, written, and promised. You will have a much bigger foundation you can use to rest your ideas of what our government was supposed to be about and why we need to make big changes in what we have today.
Don't fall for the smear of the Founders that they were old White Men in wigs and knickers who owned slaves. These were all remarkable men, and some were clearly men of genius. And most were surprisingly young at the time of the Revolution and the Constitutional Convention. Some owned slaves and the rest did not. Not all those who owned slaves were for the institution and not all who did not own slaves were against it. Reality tends to be complicated.
THE FEDERALIST PAPERS
Authors: Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay
The new edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS edited by Clinton Rossiter and co. is probably the best paperback edition. THE FEDERALIST PAPERS alone are an important source of serious political thinking. In an age of almost unbridled political power, corruption, empire building, etc. THE FEDERALIST PAPERS are important reminder of what a Free Republic (not an empire) should be.
THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were written by Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), John Jay (1745-1829), and James Madison (1751-1835). Due to concerns about the New York State legislators ratifying the The U.S. Constitution, these papers were journal pieces written to New York journals and newspapers to convince both the residents and state legislators to ratify The U.S. Constitution. One should note there were other published articles supporting ratification of The U.S. Constitution and other articles can be read in a text titled FRIENDS OF THE CONSTITUTION.
What is alarming about THE FEDERALISTS PAPERS is that they were written for most readers. If one were to write such articles these days, most Americans would not read them nor comprehend them. This is a sad commentary on Americans regarding serious political writing regarding their birthright. If THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were assigned to high school kids, whoever would make such an assignment would be fired or worse.
THE FEDERALIST PAPERS give important explanations of the separation of powers, limits of each branch of the central government (The Federal Government), and how political power should be used within severe limitations. These articles were a brilliant attempt to mitigate fears that The U.S. Constitution would give far too much power to the central or federal government.
The late Clinton Rossiter had a useful suggestion for those who did not want to read all 85 of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. He suggested that the best numbers were 1, 2, 6, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 23, 37, 39, 47, 49, 51, 62, 70, 78, 84, and 85. Those readers who read these numbered papers would probably want to read the remainder.
This newer paperback edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS has some valuable features to help the reader navigate complex political thinking. The U.S. Constitution is placed in the end of the book with page numbers of the book whereby the authors of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS refer to that section of the U.S. Constitution. This gives clarity as to exactly what the authors were arguing regarding specific sections of the proposed U.S. Constitution. Another important feature of this edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS consists of the notes. The men who wrote THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were learned men who had seriously studied history and political thought. The notes explain the examples of Ancient Greek and Roman History used to make some of the arguments. These notes also refer to examples of Renaissance and English History which were also used to make good arguments from historical examples. One could get first rate learning experience of Ancient Greek and Roman History as well as a better view of European Renaissance and English History.
Readers should not forget that the authors of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were responding to the Anti-Federalists and their articles titled THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS. Too often the Anti-Federalists are referred to as obstructionists and narrow minded men. This is simply not true. The ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS were as well written and brilliantly argued as THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.
One should note that one of the major objections of the Anti-Federalists to ratification of The U.S. Constitution was that it did not contain a Bill of Rights. The Federalists took this argument seriously. Basically, one could argue that without the Anti-Federalists, there would have been no Bill of Rights. Ergo, without The Bill of Rights, there would have been no U.S. Constitution. The Anti-Federalists were very important in the ratification of The U.S. Constitution.
Anyone who wants to define who Americans should be should read THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. They should also read THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS and read clear, informed, and well written political theory from men who could actually think. Most political hacks and too many American citizens are not even vaguely aware of this important political writing. Yet, this political writing is the very best American political thinking in U.S. History.
SAMUAL ADAMS – A LIFE
Author: Ira Stoll
SAMUEL ADAMS: A LIFE is a remarkable story about a remarkable man. Patriot, founder, revolutionary, politician and statesman, Samuel Adams was a light that burned very brightly during the tumultuous, dangerous, heady days during the birth of America.
Time and time again revolutionary zeal faded to timidity and fear. Patriots' courage failed. Plans went desperately awry. And time and time again Samuel Adams and his close band of freedom fighters rallied themselves and others to the cause of liberty. Tirelessly they labored, far from friends and family, to bring to fruition the fruit of their rebellion: a unified country.
As a man of faith, Adams saw God's providential hand in the birth of a free nation; out from under the tyrannical rule of English kings and potentates. Whether the focus of his pen and fervor was the practice of religion (for Protestants, anyway), the oppression of British troops, or taxes, Adams' goal was always the same: freedom.
Freedom: the potent, liberating drink of free men and women to live their lives without interference from anything but their own conscience. Liberty: high and noble ideals of government by consent of the governed. Was such a thing possible? At what cost?
To these noble virtues cast Adams, Jefferson, Hancock and others their names, sacred honor, and earthly fortunes. The fires of rebellion burned brightly and none more brightly than the heart, mind, and mouth of Samuel Adams.
To this day, his contributions to the Massachusetts Constitution, US Constitution, and underpinnings of the Declaration of Independence live on. No Founding Father contributed more or at a greater price than Adams.
WIVES OF THE SIGNERS
Forward By: David Barton
The women Behind the Declaration of Independence
This is a collection of letters & reports on the women behind the founding fathers. It gives a unique & tender perspective on what was going on "at home" while the Declaration of Independence was being written. I get a better understanding of what life was like in that time period, of the sacrifices these families made and of the fortitude it took to grow a nation. Fascinating!
THE WIND FARM SCAM: AN ECOLOGIST’S EVALUATION
Author: John Etherington
Forward By: Christopher Booker
Wind Power is a Swindle…Please Read this Book and Find Out Why – David Bellamy
Good for John Etherington who, in this work, marshals relentless evidentiary support for his thesis that wind energy is a scam.
Indeed, industrial wind technology is a meretricious commodity, attractive in a superficial way but without real value--seemingly plausible, even significant but actually false and nugatory. Those who would profit from it either economically or ideologically are engaged in wholesale deception. For in contrast to their alluring but empty promises of closed coal plants and reduced carbon emissions are this reality: Wind energy is impotent while its environmental footprint is massive and malignant.
A wind project with a rated capacity of 100MW, for example, with 40 skyscraper-sized turbines, would likely produce an annual average of only 27MW, an imperceptible fraction of energy for most grid systems. More than 60% of the time, it would produce less than 27MW and, at peak times, often produce nothing. It would rarely achieve its rated capacity, producing most at times of least demand. Whatever it generated would be continuously skittering, intensifying, magnifying the destabilizing effects of demand fluctuations, for wind volatility is virtually indistinguishable from the phenomenon of people whimsically turning their appliances off and on.
Moreover, the project could never produce capacity value--specified amounts of energy on demand, something that should be anathema to regulatory agencies, with their task of ensuring reliable, secure, affordable electricity. The ability of machines to perform as expected on demand is the basis of modernity, underlying contemporary systems of economic growth, wealth creation and well-being. Machinery that doesn't do this is quickly discarded, although this wasn't the case for much of history (look at the early days of television or radio or even the automobile). Only in the last hundred years or so have has the West come to rely on machines with this standard. Capacity value allows society to go from pillar to post in accordance with its own schedule. Wind provides no capacity value and can pass no test for reliability; one can never be sure how much energy it will produce for any future time. And generating units that don't provide capacity value cannot be reasonably--and favorably--compared with those that do.
Adding wind instability to a grid may be an engineer's idea of job security. But for rate and taxpayers, and a better environment, it's criminal. For the grid is then forced to extend itself. As the wind bounces randomly around the system, operators must continuously balance it to match supply precisely with demand, compensating for the ebb and flow much in the way flippers keep the steel ball in play during a game of pinball. Windmills expend a lot of energy. In real life on the most grids, more than 70% of any wind project's rated capacity must come from the flippers of reliable, flexible, fossil-fired generation, constantly turned up and back inefficiently to compensate for wind fluctuations. These inefficiencies will result in substantial carbon emissions. And increased consumer costs, as is the case anywhere wind is prevalent, such as in Denmark, Germany, Spain, California.
Yes, engineers can make-work by adding wind flux to the system. They can lead a horse to water; but they can't make it change its spots.... By its nature, wind will require lots of whips and whistles, even at small levels of penetration, in ways that will negate the very reason for its being. This is why people quickly switched to steam 200 years ago. Retrofitting modern technology to meet the needs of ancient wind flutter is monumentally back ass wards, a sure sign that pundits and politicians, not scientists, are now in charge. It would take more than a smart grid to incorporate such a dumb idea successfully.
Because of wind's unpredictable variability, it can never replace the capacity of conventional generation. Twenty-five hundred 450-foot wind turbines, spread over five hundred miles, can mathematically offset a large coal or nuclear plant; but they cannot do so functionally--for what must happen when 5000MW of volatile wind is only producing 100MW at peak demand times, a common occurrence?
This business is absurd. The whole point of modern power systems has been to move beyond the flickering flutter of variable energy sources. Prostituting modern power performance to enable subprime energy schemes on behalf of half-baked technology is immoral, and highly regressive tax avoidance "incentives" make it appear that pigs can fly. No coal plants will be shuttered and little, if any, carbon emissions will be reduced as a result of this project--or thousands of them.
Indeed, wind technology mirrors the subprime mortgage scams that wreaked havoc with the American economy. Both are enabled by wishful thinking; bogus projections; no accounting restraints, accountability, or transparency; no meaningful securitization; and regulatory agencies that looked the other way, allowing a few to make a great deal of money at everyone else's expense while providing no meaningful service.
Industrial wind projects will clear cut hundreds of acres, if placed on forested ridges. Even small 100MW wind facilities would hover for miles over sensitive terrain, threatening vulnerable species while mocking endangered species protections--and scenic highways strictures. They will cause unlawful noise for miles downrange. They will devalue properties in the area as much as 50%, if they could sell at all. Dynamiting will threaten wells and aquifers. Out-of-region workers would perform most of the temporary construction jobs and only one or two permanent jobs would result, at modest wages. There would be little value added revenue. Claims about local tax revenues would be typically unsubstantiated and unsecured.
There is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheerleading for the rude intrusiveness of physically massive/energy feckless wind projects. The slap and tickle of wind propaganda flatters the gullible, exploits the well intentioned, and nurtures the craven. It is made possible because there's no penalty for lying in the energy marketplace. The country has evidently arrived at a point in its legal culture where no negative consequences seem to exist for making false or misleading claims to sell wind energy--the stuff dreams are made of. But industrial wind is a bunko scheme of enormous consequence. And, as Etherington concludes, people who value intellectual honesty should not quietly be fleeced by such mendacity, even from their government.
Author: Roy W. Spencer
How Global Warming Hysteria Leads To
Bad Science, Pandering Politicians And
Misguided Policies That Hurt the Poor
First, a few words about the author. Roy Spencer is one of the main people behind the technologies and algorithms to measure the global temperatures from the satellites - achievements that have been rewarded by various awards and that may be giving us the most accurate data about the global mean temperature that is available, even more accurate than James Hansen's GISS data, indeed. (But, despite some people's prejudices, Spencer has been funded from pretty much the same government sources as Hansen, except for those USD 250,000 from Heinz Kerry that Spencer sadly didn't receive.) He is also a very witty and comprehensible expositor who has been writing a website with cute parodies. Recently, he co-authored potentially important papers about the regulating role of clouds for the climate and about the uncertainty about the direction of the causal relationships between the clouds and the temperature.
In the book, he first introduces some basics of climate science and explains the nature of the scientific consensus. If the passionate reviewers below had seen the book, they would almost certainly appreciate it. Spencer reveals that the mankind almost certainly contributes something to the climate change and the greenhouse effect is nonzero, too. I know he has also patiently explained many of these well-known things to some of the less educated and more "radical" skeptics and his balanced treatment in the book wasn't a surprise for me. He is clearly no biased partisan.
However, he quickly turns his attention to a more important question, namely whether the human activity poses a danger for the climate. He explains that there exist no scientific papers that would offer reliable evidence of such a threat and he exposes various political, ideological, profit-driven, and other non-scientific factors that allow the irrational alarm about global warming to thrive and solid science about these questions to be suppressed and neglected. There is clearly no consensus about a dangerous global warming and after reading the book, you will see why.