Establishment Anglicans dunking dissenting Baptist preacher in VA

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Hello!  Welcome to my blog.  As my first post I will introduce myself and describe what this blog will cover. My name is Brian and I am 33 years old.  I am a resident of the great city of Pittsburgh.  My educational background began at Slippery Rock University where I majored in English and had a minor in philosophy.  After I graduated I was uncertain what direction I wanted my life to go.  During this time I became interested in politics, especially the role of religion in politics thanks to Fox's Bill O'Reilly and his 'War On Christmas'.  It was at this time that I began to formulate my political views as a social Progressive.  By this I mean that all choices of an individual ought to be deemed outside the scope of government interference and that our duties as citizens ought to be continually on guard to protect minority groups and their freedom to choose and their freedom to be who they are without condemnation (i.e. homosexual, socialist, Islamic, etc.).

In the meantime I began graduate work at Cal State - Long Beach and majoring in Philosophy (focusing on Philosophy of Mind).  After I left Long Beach my interests diverged towards history and how the conservative media misuses history for its own end.  For example, we are told by conservatives that the Constitution ought to be interpreted by the methodology of originalism, which means that the Constitution's meaning is constrained by the meaning of the words in the document and how those words were used during the ratifiers' culture at the time.  However, Constitutional questions arose very quickly during the infant nation.  If Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison, who all co-wrote the Federalist Papers that explained the Constitution, disagreed to how the Constitution ought to be interpreted, then what chance do we have in knowing what the document means over 220 years later?

This issue will be discussed more in-depth later.  But the point that is trying to be conveyed here is that conservatives take it for granted that the Constitution can only be interpreted in one way and it ought not to be a living document to reflect what "freedom" means to us today.  Rather, whenever the term freedom arises it must be interpreted in 1789 terms unless freedom is redefined in an amendment.  The problem is that conservative media figures do not discuss the debates after the Constitution was ratified to even recognize the fact that confusion existed when interpreting the document.  One such example is the debate over the first National Bank debate.  To top off the fact that they ignore this history while lecturing others about history, conservative media figures rarely cite their claims.  For example, when O'Reilly began his so-called 'War On Christmas' he has been claiming that the U.S. was founded on the Judeo-Christian philosophy.  That Christianity, the Bible, the Ten Commandments are all philosophical, whereas the different sects (Catholicism, Mormonism, Protestantism, etc.) are religions.  In the highlighted examples, O'Reilly fails to cite one Founder to support his claim.  A more concrete example is seen here when O'Reilly made this claim on May 6, 1999, "You could go to any law school in the United States, and all the laws that were made by our founding fathers and the Supreme Court up until now have been based on Judeo-Christian philosophy."  O'Reilly simply makes a claim and tells a dissenter to go find out for themselves if he is correct.  Mr.O'Reilly is a graduate from Harvard.  He knows that a claim ought to be backed up with a specific source.  Even when a researcher cites a well known book that has several editions in print the researcher cites the particular edition used.  If O'Reilly and other conservatives feel the need to lecture others on responsibility, then they should at least be responsible enough to back up their claims.  However, as we will see, there are two reasons why they do not cite their sources.  One, the claim is made up and thus cannot be cited.  And, two, if there is a source, the source is usually taken out of context so they can use history to corrupt our current political landscape.

One final note.  The other political area that has caught my interest is our economic philosophy.  It is usually taken for granted that, during our early history, capitalism has reigned.  That we broke from England and after the constitution was ratified our economic policies were capitalist in nature.  This will be my second main concentration in this blog.  We will see that Alexander Hamilton's war bond policy favored the gentleman class and that the Whiskey Rebellion put ordinary American whiskey distillers out of business and helped out commercial whiskey distillers, "It will fall more heavily upon small stills, which are commonly owned by men of less capital and used in less advantageous situations. This, however, may be remedied by making the duty something less, in proportion to their capacity, upon stills under a certain dimension. It may be further observed that, however improper and dangerous it may be for government to pass laws with a view of giving a certain direction to industry and capital, it cannot be doubted that the effects of a provision which tended gradually and without any injury to the property now vested in that species of property to diminish the immense number of small distilleries would prove favorable to the general wealth and to the morals of the community (Gallatin). 

As the above synopsis shows, the policy of the Washington administration was to benefit the commercial class at the expense of struggling Americans, some who did not even have enough to subsist.  If the government interferes in the economy and destroys the livelihood of citizens, then that economic policy cannot be deemed as capitalist as conservatives today claim!

In further posts, I will not simply show that conservatives fail in their history and logic when trying to connect the Founding period to current policy debates, butI will also attempt, when appropriate, that the conservative philosophy fails when considering recent developments in philosophy of mind.  By ignoring, for example, the effect of the whiskey excise tax on Western PA whiskey distillers we cannot begin to understand the beliefs to why these distillers tarred and feathered tax collectors and their own neighbors who simply paid the tax. 

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