The Oniontown Observer

Tetman Callis's Literary & Artistickal Creations and Sundry Other Emanations, Transfigurations, Quotations, and Asides

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Then there are those who possess them and don’t know how to use them

October 2nd, 2014 · No Comments

“In countries under arbitrary government, the people oppressed and dispirited, neither possess arms nor know how to use them. Tyrants never feel secure, until they have disarmed the people. They can rely upon nothing but standing armies of mercenary troops for the support of their power.” – The Republican, “The Principal Circumstances Which Render Liberty Secure,” Connecticut Courant, January 7, 1788

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution


October 1st, 2014 · No Comments

“Where the great body of the citizens are ignorant, and incapable of discerning their true interests, they may be duped by artful and factious men, and led to do things destructive to their own rights and liberties. But a sensible intelligent people, who have access to the sources of information, and are capable of discerning what measures are conducive to the public welfare, will not be easily induced to act contrary to their own interests, and destroy those rights and liberties which are the foundations of public happiness.” – The Republican, “The Principal Circumstances Which Render Liberty Secure,” Connecticut Courant, January 7, 1788

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

A fool for a client

September 30th, 2014 · No Comments

“We are told that many criminal defendants representing themselves may use the courtroom for deliberate disruption of their trials. But the right of self-representation has been recognized from our beginnings by federal law and by most of the States, and no such result has thereby occurred. Moreover, the trial judge may terminate self-representation by a defendant who deliberately engages in serious and obstructionist misconduct. Of course, a State may— even over objection by the accused—appoint a ‘standby counsel’ to aid the accused if and when the accused requests help, and to be available to represent the accused in the event that termination of the defendant’s self-representation is necessary. The right of self-representation is not a license to abuse the dignity of the courtroom. Neither is it a license not to comply with relevant rules of procedural and substantive law. Thus, whatever else may or may not be open to him on appeal, a defendant who elects to represent himself cannot thereafter complain that the quality of his own defense amounted to a denial of ‘effective assistance of counsel.’” – United States Supreme Court, Faretta v. California, 422 U.S. 806 (1975)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · Verandah

We’re free to vote ourselves into slavery

September 29th, 2014 · No Comments

“As it is by comparison only that men estimate the value of any good, they are not sensible to the worth of those blessings they enjoy, until they are deprived of them; hence from ignorance of the horrors of slavery, nations, that have been in possession of that rarest of blessings, liberty, have so easily parted with it: when groaning under the yoke of tyranny what perils would they not encounter, what consideration would they not give to regain the inestimable jewel they had lost; but the jealousy of despotism guards every avenue to freedom, and confirms its empire at the expence of the devoted people, whose property is made instrumental to their misery, for the rapacious hand of power seizes upon every thing; dispair presently succeeds, and every noble faculty of the mind being depressed, and all motive to industry and exertion being removed, the people are adapted to the nature of the government, and drag out a listless existence.” – Samuel Bryan, “Centinel VIII”

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

It’s not carved in stone

September 28th, 2014 · No Comments

“A standing Bill of Rights is absurd, because no constitutions, in a free government, can be unalterable. The present generation have indeed a right to declare what they deem a privilege; but they have no right to say what the next generation shall deem a privilege.” – Noah Webster, “Giles Hickory I” (emphases in original)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Taxation for dummies

September 27th, 2014 · No Comments

“To those who insist that he who pays the greatest share of taxes, ought to have the greatest number of votes; it is a sufficient answer to say, that this rule would be destructive of the liberty of the others, and would render them slaves to the more rich and wealthy—That if one man pays more taxes than another, it is because he has more wealth to be protected by government, and he receives greater benefits from the government.”– Luther Martin, “The Genuine Information” (emphases in original)

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Honest to a fault

September 26th, 2014 · No Comments

“To provide for the general welfare, is an abstract proposition, which mankind differ in the explanation of, as much as they do on any political or moral proposition that can be proposed; the most opposite measures may be pursued by different parties, and both may profess, that they have in view the general welfare, and both sides may be honest in their professions.” – Brutus VI, “The Dangers of Unlimited Taxation,” New York Journal, December 27, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Watch closely

September 25th, 2014 · 2 Comments

“A writer screwing around and a writer hard at work look exactly the same to the untrained observer.” – Averil Dean, “Groove”

→ 2 CommentsTags: Averil Dean · Lit & Crit

Civil v. uncivil government

September 24th, 2014 · No Comments

“The business of civil government is to protect the citizen in his rights, to defend the community from hostile powers, and to promote the general welfare. Civil government has no business to meddle with the private opinions of the people. If I demean myself as a good citizen, I am accountable, not to man, but to God, for the religious opinions which I embrace, and the manner in which I worship the supreme being. If such had been the universal sentiments of mankind, and they had acted accordingly, persecution, the bane of truth and nurse of error, with her bloody axe and flaming hand, would never have turned so great a part of the world into a field of blood.” – A Landholder VII (Oliver Ellsworth), “No Religious Test Shall Be Required,” Connecticut Courant, December 17, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Call it science

September 23rd, 2014 · No Comments

“It ever has been the fate of system mongers to mistake the productions of their own imaginations, for those of nature herself: And their works, instead of advancing the cause of truth, serve only as false guides, who are ever ready to mislead us and impede our progress.” – John Stevens, Jr., “Americanus V,” Debate on the Constitution, Part One (ed. Bailyn)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution · Verandah

Easy as pie

September 22nd, 2014 · No Comments

“So great is the Wickedness of some Men, & the stupid Servility of others, that one would be almost inclined to conclude that Communities cannot be free. The few haughty Families, think They must govern. The Body of the People tamely consent & submit to be their Slaves. This unravels the Mystery of Millions being enslaved by the few!” – Samuel Adams, letter to Richard Henry Lee, December 3, 1787 (emphasis in original)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

The good ol’ boys

September 21st, 2014 · No Comments

“It is not to be expected that a legislature will be found in any country that will not have some of its members, who will pursue their private ends, for which they will sacrifice the public good. Men of this character are, generally, artful and designing, and frequently possess brilliant talents and abilities; they commonly act in concert, and agree to share the spoils of their country among them; they will keep their object ever in view, and follow it with constancy. To effect their purpose, they will assume any shape, and, Proteus like, mould themselves into any form—where they will find members proof against direct bribery or gifts of offices, they will endeavor to mislead their minds by specious and false reasoning, to impose upon their unsuspecting honesty by an affectation of zeal for the public good.” – Brutus IV, “Fair Representation Is the Great Desideratum in Politics,” New York Journal, November 29, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Generate some heat

September 20th, 2014 · 2 Comments

“Too often, writers fear that in order to get attention in an over-stimulated world, they need to open with a car crash, a zombie apocalypse, an explosion of expletives, an alternate universe, or prose that turns cartwheels on the ceiling. It’s not that those things can’t work, but they’re certainly not necessary, and unless they’re done exceedingly well, they backfire. What the editor is really looking for is presence on the page—a feeling that you, the author, are in control; that you have a deep respect for language and a well-made sentence, no matter how plain or ornate; that something is at stake; and that in addition to whatever plot you are hatching, you can create friction in the simple act of rubbing two sentences up against each other.” – Dawn Raffel, “The Most Important Words”

→ 2 CommentsTags: Lit & Crit · Verandah

Not what could be called equitable

September 19th, 2014 · No Comments

“The apportionment of taxes on the various descriptions of property, is an act which seems to require the most exact impartiality; yet there is perhaps no legislative act in which greater opportunity and temptation are given to a predominant party, to trample on the rules of justice. Every shilling with which they over-burden the inferior number, is a shilling saved to their own pockets.” – James Madison, “The Federalist X”

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · James Madison · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

From here to eternity

September 18th, 2014 · No Comments

“As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed. As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach themselves. The diversity in the faculties of men from which the rights of property originate, is not less an insuperable obstacle to a uniformity of interests. The protection of these faculties is the first object of Government. From the protection of different and unequal faculties of acquiring property, the possession of different degrees and kinds of property immediately results: and from the influence of these on the sentiments and views of the respective proprietors, ensues a division of the society into different interests and parties.

“The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them every where brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning Government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have in turn divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to co-operate for their common good. So strong is this propensity for mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions, and excite their most violent conflicts. But the most common and durable source of factions, has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold, and those who are without property, have ever formed distinct interests in society. Those who are creditors, and those who are debtors, fall under a like discrimination. A landed interest, and manufacturing interest, a monied interest, and many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide them into different classes, actuated by different sentiments and views. The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern Legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of Government.”

– James Madison, “The Federalist X”

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · James Madison · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Nothing’s free in freedom

September 17th, 2014 · No Comments

“The progress of a commercial society begets luxury, the parent of inequality, the foe to virtue, and the enemy to restraint.” – Cato V, “Can an American Be a Tyrant?”

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

We call it ironic detachment

September 16th, 2014 · No Comments

“The liberties of the people never can be lost, until they are lost to themselves, in a vicious disregard of their dearest interests, a sottish indolence, a wild licentiousness, a dissoluteness of morals, and a contempt of all virtue.” – Civis Rusticus, “Not to Condemn, but to Correct,” January 30, 1788, Debate on the Constitution, Part One (ed. Bailyn)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

A vlad by any other name

September 15th, 2014 · No Comments

“The causes of hostility among nations are innumerable. There are some which have a general and almost constant operation upon the collective bodies of society: Of this description are the love of power or the desire of preeminence and dominion—the jealousy of power, or the desire of equality and safety. There are others which have a more circumscribed, though an equally operative influence, within their spheres: Such are the rivalships and competitions of commerce between commercial nations. And there are others, not less numerous than either of the former, which take their origin intirely in private passions; in the attachments, enmities, interests, hopes and fears of leading individuals in the communities of which they are members. Men of this class, whether the favourites of a king or of a people, have in too many instances abused the confidence they possessed; and assuming the pretext of some public motive, have not scrupled to sacrifice the national tranquility to personal advantage, or personal gratification.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Federalist VI”

→ No CommentsTags: Alexander Hamilton · Economics · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Gnawed to death by foxes

September 14th, 2014 · No Comments

“The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.” – Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William Stephens Smith,” November 13, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution · Thomas Jefferson

Works nearly every time

September 13th, 2014 · No Comments

“One of the easiest and most coercive ways to get someone to confess to a crime they didn’t commit, especially if that person is a woman, is to threaten them with the loss of their kids.” – Professor Steven A. Drizin, Center on Wrongful Conviction, Northwestern University School of Law

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law

You gotta have faith

September 12th, 2014 · No Comments

“No man is a warmer advocate for proper restraints and wholesome checks in every department of government than I am; but I have never yet been able to discover the propriety of placing it absolutely out of the power of men to render essential Services, because a possibility remains of their doing ill.” – George Washington, “Letter to Bushrod Washington,” November 10, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · George Washington · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Likely to need a few tweaks

September 11th, 2014 · No Comments

“The warmest friends and best supporters the Constitution has, do not contend that it is free from imperfections; but they found them unavoidable and are sensible, if evil is likely to arise there from, the remedy must come hereafter; for in the present moment, it is not to be obtained; and, as there is a Constitutional door open for it, I think the People (for it is with them to Judge) can as they will have the advantage of experience on their Side, decide with as much propriety on the alterations and amendments which are necessary as ourselves. I do not think we are more inspired, have more wisdom, or possess more virtue, than those who will come after us.” – George Washington, “Letter to Bushrod Washington,” November 10, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: George Washington · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

The basics

September 10th, 2014 · No Comments

“The inquiry is, what are the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states? We feel no hesitation in confining these expressions to those privileges and immunities which are, in their nature, fundamental; which belong, of right, to the citizens of all free governments; and which have, at all times, been enjoyed by the citizens of the several states which compose this Union, from the time of their becoming free, independent, and sovereign. What these fundamental principles are, it would perhaps be more tedious than difficult to enumerate. They may, however, be all comprehended under the following general heads: Protection by the government; the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the right to acquire and possess property of every kind, and to pursue and obtain happiness and safety; subject nevertheless to such restraints as the government may justly prescribe for the general good of the whole. The right of a citizen of one state to pass through, or to reside in any other state, for purposes of trade, agriculture, professional pursuits, or otherwise; to claim the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus; to institute and maintain actions of any kind in the courts of the state; to take, hold and dispose of property, either real or personal; and an exemption from higher taxes or impositions than are paid by the other citizens of the state; may be mentioned as some of the particular privileges and immunities of citizens, which are clearly embraced by the general description of privileges deemed to be fundamental: to which may be added, the elective franchise, as regulated and established by the laws or constitution of the state in which it is to be exercised. These, and many others which might be mentioned, are, strictly speaking, privileges and immunities, and the enjoyment of them by the citizens of each state, in every other state, was manifestly calculated (to use the expressions of the preamble of the corresponding provision in the old articles of confederation) ‘the better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states of the Union.’” – Justice Bushrod Washington, Corfield v. Coryell (6 Fed. Cas. 546, no. 3,230 C.C.E.D.Pa. 1823)

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

If you go left, I will go right; and if you go right, I will go left

September 9th, 2014 · No Comments

“There are certain unalienable and fundamental rights, which in forming the social compact, ought to be explicitly ascertained and fixed—a free and enlightened people, in forming this compact, will not resign all their rights to those who govern, and they will fix limits to their legislators and rulers, which will soon be plainly seen by those who are governed, as well as by those who govern: and the latter will know they cannot be passed unperceived by the former, and without giving a general alarm—These rights should be made the basis of every constitution; and if a people be so situated, or have such different opinions that they cannot agree in ascertaining and fixing them, it is a very strong argument against their attempting to form one entire society, to live under one system of laws only.” – Letters from the “Federal Farmer” to “The Republican”, Letter II, October 9, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Just so you know the difference

September 8th, 2014 · No Comments

“The fickle and ardent, in any community, are the proper tools for establishing despotic government. But it is deliberate and thinking men, who must establish and secure governments on free principles.” – Letters from the “Federal Farmer” to “The Republican”, Letter I, October 8, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Any patriotic act will serve

September 7th, 2014 · No Comments

“It is natural for men, who wish to hasten the adoption of a measure, to tell us, now is the crisis—now is the critical moment which must be seized, or all will be lost: and to shut the door against free enquiry, whenever conscious the thing presented has defects in it, which time and investigation will probably discover. This has been the custom of tyrants and their dependants in all ages.” – Letters from the “Federal Farmer” to “The Republican”, Letter I, November 8, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Go balance your budget

September 6th, 2014 · No Comments

“Public credit is as necessary for the prosperity of a nation as private credit is for the support and wealth of a family.” – A Landholder (Oliver Ellsworth), “A Further Reply to Elbridge Gerry,” Connecticut Courant, December 3, 1787

→ No CommentsTags: Economics · Politics & Law · The American Constitution

Will get fooled again

September 5th, 2014 · No Comments

“A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people, than under the forbidding appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us, that the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism, than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics the greatest number have begun their career, by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing Demagogues and ending Tyrants.” – Alexander Hamilton, “The Federalist I”

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Make sure you get it in writing

September 4th, 2014 · No Comments

“A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, & what no just government should refuse or rest on inference.” – Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, December 20, 1787, Debate on the Constitution, Part One (ed. Bailyn)

→ No CommentsTags: James Madison · Politics & Law · The American Constitution · Thomas Jefferson

The interlocking grid

September 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

“The great desideratum in Government is, so to modify the sovereignty as that it may be sufficiently neutral between different parts of the Society to controul one part from invading the rights of another, and at the same time sufficiently controuled itself, from setting up an interest adverse to that of the entire Society.” – James Madison to Thomas Jefferson, October 24, 1787, Debate on the Constitution, Part One (ed. Bailyn)

→ No CommentsTags: James Madison · Politics & Law · The American Constitution · Thomas Jefferson