Monday, December 25, 2006

Does Morality Depend on Religion?

This Christmas Day, many Americans contemplate their God. To them, their religion provides moral guidance. Without religion, they believe there would be no morality. They uphold the Nietzchean view that (paraphrasing) says, "If God were dead, all would be permitted."

Well, I am one atheist who believes in an absolute right and wrong, one that stems from an objective reality. Man's life has certain requirements. To live, he must do certain things, and if he doesn't, he suffers or dies. Morality derives from man's nature.

As an example, consider that to eat, men must plant crops. To plant crops, they must observe how plants grow, and then exert effort to plant them, fertilize and irrigate them, and harvest them. All of these steps requires a focus on the world "out there." Not only must he focus on what he sees and hears, he must accurately process that information and form correct conclusions, and then he must act on it. He must act on it in furtherance of his own life.

All of these steps are uses of his reason. Reason means adhering to the evidence of his senses (not some supernatural dimension), and using rational processes to form correct conclusions about what he sees (not blindly following emotions or whim). Then he must exert effort to achieve a goal that benefits him (rather than passively depend on someone else to do it for him).

Thus, man's nature means he must use reason to live for his own benefit. So, to be moral is to be rationally selfish, to live for oneself in a rational manner.

If man's nature demands reason to live, why do so many people believe that only religion -- i.e., the unworldly, the irrational, the supernatural -- can provide a basis for morality?

I have been puzzled by that question. To see one answer, which pins it on a mistaken response to the amorality of our age, see the following article, entitled: "Moral Values Without Religion" by Peter Schwartz, available at this link:

The first few paragraphs of the article appear below:

"Does morality depend upon religion? Most people believe it does, which is a major reason behind the appeal of the religious right. People believe that without faith in a supernatural authority, we can have no moral values--no moral absolutes, no black-and-white distinctions, no firm demarcation between good and evil--in life or in politics. This is the assumption underlying Justice Antonin Scalia's assertion that "government derives its authority from God," since only religious faith can supposedly provide moral constraints on human action.

And what draws people to this bizarre premise--the premise that there is no rational basis for refraining from murder, rape or anarchism? The left's persistent assault on moral values.

That is, liberals characteristically renounce moral absolutes in favor of moral grayness. They insist, for example, that criminals should not be reviled, but should be seen as tragic products of their "social environment"--that teenage mothers are just as entitled to welfare checks as wage-earners are to their paychecks, and that to deny welfare benefits for a child born into a family already receiving welfare is, as the ACLU declares, to "unconstitutionally coerce women's reproductive decisions"--that America is morally equivalent to its enemies, with our own policies having provoked the Sept. 11 attacks and our "unilateralist" actions in Iraq being no different from any forcible occupation of one nation by another.

Repulsed by such egalitarian, anti-"judgmental" absurdities, many people disavow what they regard as leftism's essence: secularism, and turn to religion for their values.

[for the rest of the article, go to link]"

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Apartment Booty in New York

I submitted this letter to the editor regarding Mayor Bloomberg's plan to use the lever of taxes to force landlords to house low and moderate income people in buildings in higher income neighborhoods. It is called the "421-a" plan referring to the tax "break" landlords won't get if they don't comply.

"Dear Editor:

Liberty is usually lost not in a big leap, but in many small steps. Well, New York is taking a medium-sized step with Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to subsidize a new round of housing for low and moderate income people. The plan will use the lever of taxes to force landlords to house the recipients of this booty cheek-by-jowl in the same buildings or neighborhoods as those of us who earn the money to pay for it. It is not enough that New Yorkers who earn their wealth pay the highest taxes in the country. Now we are also being forced to share our homes and neighborhoods with the objects of our oppression.

The liberty of Americans will not be lost in a grand revolution, like that of Russia nearly 100 years ago. Rather, it is being lost in many smaller steps like the current one to forcefully house those of lesser means in the neighborhoods of the wealthy. Unlike Dr. Zhivago, who came home to find his home suddenly occupied by the gloating, envious rabble of the city, we find our homes and neighborhoods invaded one building and one paycheck at a time. "

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

My Walk Towards the Light of Reason

My congratulations to everyone who throws off the shackles of religion. I applaud you on your journey. This is my story.

I was raised Catholic in a typical pragmatic religious family. We went to church on Sunday, and went about the rest of our lives the rest of the week. We never discussed, analyzed or mentioned religion. It was not verboten; it was simply taken as an uncontroversial given of life, as routine as getting up in the morning.

For me, all of that changed with two events. The first was the disappearance of my beloved cat when I was 7. For the first time in my life, I sincerely asked God for something, to get my cat back. I was taught in Sunday school that God only answered sincere prayers, and that you should only pray for something when it is really important. Well, getting my Tiger back was important, so I prayed. I prayed every night on my knees for a month. I prayed at least 15 minutes every night. I was sincere.

Nothing happened. I never prayed again. It wasn't a conscious decision. I simply know that I never prayed again.

The second event began when I picked Ayn Rand's Anthem off the shelf of a used book store when I was 13. At 13 I read Anthem. At 14 I read The Fountainhead and told myself I was an atheist. By 15, I demanded that my parents explain their adherence to a religion that demanded their sacrifice on the altar of altruism. When I announced to my father that I was an atheist that year, he declared that I must be insane and threatened to send me to an insane asylum.

Needless to say, after that I couldn't wait to get out of my parents' house, and went to college as soon as I could, even skipping my senior year of high school to go early.

The interesting thing about all of it was that throughout my youth (and continuing to this day), I took religion seriously. I listened to what the priest said at mass; I excelled at Sunday school where I was a top student. I was even an altar boy and relished the opportunity to be closer to the "body of Christ" than anyone else, other than the priest.

Taking religion -- i.e., ideas -- seriously appears to be the leitmotif of those who reject the religion under which they are raised.

I respect anyone who takes ideas seriously, even if they are wrong about the ideas they hold. Because if they do so, specifically if they are open to reason and respect evidence, they are open to the truth.

Many religious people take religious ideas seriously, but they base their beliefs on faith. You cannot reason with them. Many other religious people (most religious people I meet fall into this category) are pragmatists; they don't take any ideas seriously. You cannot reason with them either, because for them ideas are divorced from reality.

The bottom line is: very few people are independent thinkers who take ideas seriously. Those who are can find their way out of the torture chamber of religion, despite its horrors.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Anti-Life Movement

Check out this editorial on abortion.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why I Will Keep Voting Democratic, Until...

In every major area, except for religious values, I cannot see a difference between the parties. Both parties spend our money with abandon. They redistribute wealth from rich to poor or from one pressure group to another. They purchase votes with earmarks and new welfare programs. They restrict the substances that can go into our body, whether it is food or drugs. Both parties fund mediocre and pacifying public education. Both parties use our money and military to aid unworthy peoples and countries abroad. Both parties compromise with dictators, give money to those dictators, and pay for the podium those dictators speak at. Both parties use the coercive power of government to enact rules that favor nature over man.

The Republicans differ from the Democrats in only one important way. In addition to doing all of the same things the Democrats do, the Republicans also seek to destroy the separation of church and state. For the Republicans, their paramount value is religion, and they seek to inject it into our life in sundry ways. They seek to ban abortion, to restrict "devilish" scientific research, to fund programs to teach anti-abortion and abstinence abroad, to use government money to fund religious charities at home, to ban pornography on the Internet and curse words on television, and to ban particular sexual practices, gambling, prostitution and drugs.

The only other difference between the parties is what they call their statist programs. The Republicans will often claim that their religious-statist program is enacted in the name of "freedom" or "liberty" or "free markets" or "American values" or even "capitalism". The Democrats also use these labels sometimes, but without conviction. They are far more animated when they demand "social justice", the reduction of "inequality of income" between the rich and poor or between CEOs and workers, and "environmental justice". The Democrats are more honest in calling their leftist program by its left-wing labels.

For their relative honesty, the Democrats deserved our vote. For their relative secularity, they deserved our vote. In terms of actions, it will be awful if the Democrats exercise their newly-found power. But one thing is for sure, it will not be worse than the actions of the Republicans. And when the Democrats get blamed for the failures of their policies, it will not be "free markets" or "American values" or "capitalism" that gets blamed, it will be the statist ideology those policies actually represent.

If the Republicans rediscover a secular approach to limited government, they will be worthy of my vote. Until then, I will continue to vote for the lesser of two evils: the Democrats.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Regulation Destroys

As an investment professional focused on the electric utility industry, the most regulated industry in the United States, I have accumulated numerous examples over the past 12 years of the inanity of regulation.

My experience, based on frequent personal interaction with both the regulators and the regulated, is that regulators, nearly to the person, are less competent than the people they regulate.

Imagine a 50-something highly educated and accomplished CEO of a $25 billion market capitalization company kowtowing to a 30-something attorney and political hack who happens to hold life-and-death regulatory power over his business. I've seen it, and variations of it, many times.

Executives of regulated companies have to flatter the regulators at conferences and meetings, spend countless hours educating the regulators on the simple basics of how their industry operates (so as to reduce the destructiveness of new regulations), and regularly second-guess their own actions for fear that a regulator or his political boss will be offended by them.

The results are several, the least of which is the many man-years of wasted time and unproductive employment at large corporations (e.g.: the full-time regulatory affairs teams at utilities and every other large corporation).

More ominously, innovations are delayed many years or never implemented at all. For example, in the utility world, numerous innovative technologies that could be deployed on the electric transmission infrastructure, such as high-speed Internet access, are never deployed because they require regulatory approval, and to get that the utilities must agree to "share" profits because, under the principle of regulation, the transmission lines really belong to the "utility ratepayers."

Even if the regulator is well-meaning (many of them actually are) and accomplished/intelligent (a rarity), by virtue of existing at the behest of politicians, they end up being destructive (which is why the only honest regulator would have to immediately quit his job). As an example, during the height of the California power crisis, a federal regulator appointed by Bush who publicly denounced price controls, imposed them anyway when he got a personal phone call from Bush. He knew the price controls would cause blackouts, and they did. He implemented them anyway.

A whole body of economic and philosophical literature provides good reasons why regulation is bad. Regulators are disinterested or "mis-interested" (corrupt), they are risk-averse, they cannot hold all the relevant information in their heads to regulate properly, etc.

I agree with all that, and add to it the image of a highly successful chief executive clapping with eager obsequiousness at the conclusion of a meaningless speech by a well-meaning but ignorant regulator who would never be hired by the utility she is regulating.

I hate to end on such a negative note, so I will add that quite a lot of innovation still gets pushed through eventually despite such regulation (even in the utility industry, thankfully). But the cost of the lost innovation and waste is enormous and growing.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


I found these to be easy-to-use, highly instructional lessons on the Bible.

Check it out:

By the way, you can validate all quotes (using your favorite Bible translation) at the following website:

After studying the Bible, I have one question and a request:

(1) How does anyone -- Jews or Christians -- take this stuff seriously, and still retain their ability to reason?

(2) If anyone can think of more creative uses for Legos, please let me know! :-)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Can Science “Prove” Religion?

Faith is the act of believing without regard for the evidence. It is hypocritical for religionists to attempt to "prove" the existence of a god or aspects of their religion using evidence and science. Religion is the opposite of science. Science is based on the principle of accepting as true only that which is proven true (using rational standards) based on evidence. On the other hand, religion involves the act of believing in something unworldly, based strictly on feelings and without regard for evidence.

Either you believe in religion or you live by reason and science. Although some try, like the “archaeologists” who recently claimed they found evidence of Noah's Ark, you can't have it both ways.

When a religious person putatively uses the methods of science to "prove" his religious point (whether it is the Shroud of Turin, Noah's Ark, Jesus's divinity or Creationism, it does not matter), what he is really trying to do is to appropriate the prestige of science to put an attractive veneer on religion. Science has a well-earned and hard-earned credibility because of its proven track record and accomplishments. It is through science that we have a nearly 80 year average lifespan, electricity, cheap food, heat and air conditioning, jet travel, computers, etc.

What is the record of religion? Its history speaks for itself.

On a small level, I respect the relative honesty of the person who simply declares his belief in god as a matter of faith; he doesn’t look for or need evidence. Compared to others who use "science" to justify their religious views, he is more honest.

On the other hand, he, like all of us, lives in a world made great through science. There is no place for religion in that world.

The Nuclear Bomb: Why We Should Be Willing To Use It

Is using a nuclear bomb justified in fighting the Muslim terrorists? Here are the reasons why I support using a nuclear bomb, if it is called for militarily. In considering whether we should use a nuclear bomb, we must examine the facts. Below I separate fact from fiction about "nukes" and why it is justifiable to use them:

**JUST A BIG BOMB. A nuclear bomb is just a big bomb, not some sort of doomsday device that will wipe out mankind. Nearly all deaths from a nuclear bomb are from its blast. Very few die from radiation. This proved true at Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the vast majority of deaths were due to the direct blast and secondary blast effects, such as fire. Relatively few deaths were due to radiation or radioactive fallout. Furthermore, the nuclear bombs used in World War II were not even the most deadly bombings that occurred during the war. More people died in one night of conventional carpet and firebombing in Tokyo and at Dresden than died in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together. The only unique thing about a nuclear bomb is how the blast is caused. Its cause is a fusion or fission nuclear chain reaction, instead of combustion, like a typical bomb. In its effects, a nuclear bomb is not that different than a very large conventional bomb. Using it will not pose excessive risks to anyone other than those targeted.

**SAVES AMERICAN LIVES AND WINS THE WAR. Using the nuclear bomb in World War II saved at least a million American soldiers’ lives. The best military experts of the day estimated that at least one million American soldiers would die if Japan had to be invaded and conquered by land. By defeating Japan without ever having to send a single American ashore, those soldiers’ lives were saved. Incidentally, given the likely level of resistance of the Japanese population (grandmothers and children were being trained to turn themselves into human bombs – sound familiar??), the same military authorities estimated that at least three million Japanese would have died in a land invasion by American forces. Not that it is a concern of ours in war, but those lives were saved as well.

In the current situation, using nuclear bombs would save American lives, just as it did in World War II. In simple terms, using just one or two bombs would scare the hell out of the Iranians, just like it scared the hell out of the Japanese. If that wasn’t enough, it would only take a handful of bombs to detroy whatever government, military or even civilian centers were necessary to cause Iran’s or any other country’s defeat. It is immoral to unnecessarily risk American soldiers’ lives through sporadic low-level engagements stretching over decades, which we are doing now.

**NON-PROLIFERATION. The argument that using a nuclear bomb causes its proliferation doesn’t hold water. No nuclear bombs have been used by anyone since the end of World War II, yet since then nuclear weapon technology has spread from only one country having it (the United States) to nearly a dozen countries having it, including many hostile to the United States such as Russia, China and North Korea. Ironically, by using a nuclear bomb in our defense, we would be telling the leaders of countries hostile to America not to threaten us with a nuclear bomb, or face the same fate. In all likelihood, fewer countries would develop a nuclear bomb, and those that did would be friendly to the U.S.

The bottom line is that the use of a nuclear bomb is not only morally permissible, but necessary. If such force is called for, to use anything less needlessly risks American lives, much as it would have in World War II if we had to do a land invasion of Japan. If using nuclear bombs would win the war against the Muslim terrorists (as I think it would), we should do it. Any president who pre-emptively renounces their use has failed in his responsibility as commander-in-chief.

Monday, July 17, 2006

No God Exists

No god exists, or ever did exist. Do pink elephants exist? The answer is no for two reasons. First, it is contradictory in the nature of an elephant for it to be pink. The properties of living skin, and especially that of mammals, are such that it can have certain shades, such as beige or brown, but not pink.

Second, the existence of a pink elephant has not been proven. In the absence of such proof, it does not exist. The burden of proof always lies with the person who makes an assertion. One can only accept as knowledge, or even potential knowledge, that for which some evidence has been provided. If I say, "There is an elephant behind that door," it may be true if there is corroborating evidence such as: the door is the size of a garage door; you are standing at a zoo; there are animal smells in the air, etc.

If the burden of proof did not lie with the person who asserts the positive, then there would be cognitive chaos. Anyone can make any arbitrary claim, and that claim would have the same status as something actually known. For example, with regard to pink elephants, I would have to carefully check every door to see if there was an elephant behind it, before I could walk by. But, what about evil dwarves, or aliens with death rays, or any other demoniacal entity someone could dream up? In life, I give no thought to such possibilities, BECAUSE NO EVIDENCE HAS BEEN PROVIDED THAT THEY EXIST. So, in the absence of evidence, I act as if THEY DO NOT EXIST. In other words, THE ARBITRARY DOES NOT EXIST. The concept of god is just such an arbitrary concept, on par with pink elephants, or evil green dwarfs, etc.

I am an atheist because the concept of god is contradictory (point no. 1 above) and because there is no evidence for the existence of a god (point 2 above). There are many contradictions in the concept of god. To name just one, "Who created god?" If god is omnipotent and created the universe, then who created god? Another god? If so, then who created that god? God either has an infinite series of predecessor gods, or simply exists with no cause. But, if god can exist with no cause, than so can the universe. One does not need a god for the universe to exist.

Point no. 2, there is no evidence for a god. If there were, what would it say? Could the god be omniscent and omnipresent? For example, I see beauty in the world. Does that mean there is a god? If so, does that god extend beyond this world? Does it include me? Does it include ugly things and malformed things? But if it does not, then it is not omnipresent, which is one of the characteristics of god.

Defining god means delimiting god, and when god is delimited, he is WITHIN the universe, no longer the creator of the universe. He just becomes another entity within the universe, for example, an old man with a beard. However, if he is within the universe, he is no longer god. Which brings us back to point no. 1. Not only is there no evidence for god, but the concept of god is contradictory.

For these reasons, I say, "God does not exist."

But if God does not exist, how do we get meaning out of life? How do we establish morality? These are important questions, and I will save them for a future post. Let me just say now that I am an atheist whose life has meaning, and I believe in a definite right and wrong. I did not need any god for that!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hezbollah: "The Party of God"
The only way to end terrorism is to destroy the root of it: the states that sponsor it. The No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism is Iran. The United States and Israel should together destroy Iran's ability to support terrorism. One estimate is that that country gives $250 to $500 million per year to support Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran ships explosives into Iraq that kill our troops. Iran is trying to develop the nuclear bomb, and is close to succeeding.

These are only the current threats to civilization from that country. Nearly 30 years ago, Iran declared war on the United States by invading our embassy and taking American citizens hostage. The U.S. response was nothing. Iran aggravated that action through the years by organizing numerous terrorist actions, such as the killing of over 200 U.S. marines in Lebanon.

Today, thugs organized by the Iranian regime regularly shout, "Death to America" and "Death to Israel". The "prime minister" of Iran calls for Israel to be "wiped off the map". The government of Iran makes common cause with sundry dictatorships around the globe, such as that of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

America must decide that it will defend itself from this rogue state. Nothing less than "regime change" in Iran, accomplished by whatever military means necessary (up to and including the use of the nuclear bomb), is called for in defense of our country. We have common cause with Israel, not because we agree with all details of that government's actions, but because Israel is the only civilized state in the region, and is an even greater victim of Iran's depredations than we are.

Cutting the twigs of terrorism, such as arresting its leaders, or pursuing peripheral actions in Iraq and elsewhere, will not win the war. Only by going to the root will we win the war. As goes Iran, so go the lesser sympathizers and supporters of terrorism: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. If we root out the mother source of terrorism in Iran, it will probably not be necessary to confront these lesser, albeit deadly, enemies of the United States. They will have gotten the message.

When will we act?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

To the Moon and Beyond, the Capitalist Way

As laudable as the goal of going to the moon is in and of itself, going there should not be the task of government. Remember that the tremendous resources consumed by the moon effort were resources taken (i.e., stolen) from every American. Nothing justifies theft of property, especially if it is by the government.

As for whether we would go the moon or Mars or another star strictly through private enterprise, we would... if there was a profit in it. That is the only way we should go there because if there is a profit, that means there is a net creation of value. A simple definition of profit is simply that the benefits exceed the costs. What is left over is profit. So, if the benefits of going to the moon exceeded the considerable costs, it would be profitable and private enterprise would do it.

Finally, on a practical level, observe that the principle of bureaucratic wastefulness that applies to all government efforts even applies to our space programs. Today, private entrepreneurs are developing space vehicles at tiny fractions of the cost of the Space Shuttle or the Saturn V rocket. These are innovative designs, quite different than the rocket technology used by NASA which is not that different from the German rockets developed in World War II by Werner von Braun.

I am fully confident that if simply left alone by the government, private, for-profit companies will exploit the solar system for tourism, materials production and sheer exploration. Government can stay out of the way by eliminating silly FAA-type restrictions on rocket flights, reforming the courts to prevent specious lawsuits that retard technological innovation (e.g.: asbestos paranoia), and simply reducing spending and taxes so that the money is there to finance something as glorious as space flight.

On a personal level, I intend to be a space tourist. I am glad that I am likely to see a vital (private, for-profit) space tourism industry emerge in my lifetime.

President Bush -- Big Talk and Little Action, A Dangerous Combination

I would prefer an avowed pacifist as president, instead of President Bush. At least, when the pacifist fails, he would go down in history like Neville Chamberlain of Great Britain who claimed he was establishing "peace in our time" as he signed away Czechoslovakia's sovereignty to Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II. Chamberlain thought he would achieve peace by appeasing the Nazis. Instead, his policy of appeasement emboldened the Germans and helped bring on World War II.

Chamberlain became a symbol of the evil of appeasement. As an exemplar of how NOT to deal with dictators, he helped strengthen the spine of the world as it fought the Nazis and later the Communists.

What is the danger of Bush? First, in actual practice, he appeases no less than any other administration. He is now offering oil, nuclear plants and other goodies to the Iranians and North Koreans to persuade them to stop their programs to develop nuclear bombs. Yes, he did invade Iraq, but he does nothing against the greater enemy Iran, even as that country, for example, ships bombs into Iraq to kill our soldiers. In Israel, he authorized the Europeans to send more money to Hamas, the same terrorist group that has killed many Americans. Indeed, Bush's actions to defend us from Muslim terrorists are likely not that different than what we could have expected from a Democratic administration.

But, despite his little actions, Bush is (at times) a big talker. He refers to the "Axis of Evil". He pontificates loudly against the Iranians and North Koreans, against Syria, etc. (that is, when he is not holding hands and kissing the crown prince of Saudi Arabia -- yes, Bush did that a few months ago in case you missed the photos in the newspaper).

By talking big and doing little, Bush disorients and alienates those who want the United States to properly defend itself against the terrorists. Through his big talk, Bush gives the "appearance" of strong action, while his actions are incredibly weak. Bush operates on the premise: "If words could kill, my enemy would already be dead."

Unfortunately, while Bush talks, the enemy prepares for his next move.

A pacifist as President (such as John Kerry), would give us the same actions, but none of the same phony talk (although we would get different phony talk). And when another attack occurs on his watch, it is pacifism and appeasement that gets a black eye. Under Bush, when we are attacked again there will be no clarity as to why Bush's policies were unsuccessful in preventing that attack. Was it because we were too weak against the Muslim terrorists? Or, maybe we were too strong by calling them too many names and supporting Israel too much? Maybe Bush should have more actively cut ties with Israel and offered that country up as appeasement to the inflamed Muslim masses?

If a pacifist fails, it is pacifism that gets blamed. Then maybe next time a truly strong leader like a Winston Churchill could step in and win this war. I hope that when it happens, it will not take something as horrific as the nuking of an American or Western city [I live in New York]. And I hope that Bush hasn't muddled things up so much that all the Winston Churchills out there who could step up would be silent.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Galileo Galilei -- A Pioneer in Reason

Galileo was the greatest scientist of his day. He used reason and the evidence of his own eyes to prove that the earth revolved around the sun, an idea that challenged the orthodoxy of the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church had dominated and squelched the intellectual life of Europe since the Fall of Rome. Galileo, by pursuing the evidence of his eyes and the logic of reason, collided with the Church. Although the Church made Galileo utter the words of recantation, the truth of his ideas could not be recanted.

The triumph of Galileo marked the end of the domination of the Catholic Church in Europe. The trial of Galileo under the Inquisition signaled the end of the Renaissance in Southern Europe, and its migration to the more tolerant North, where it eventually ushered in the Age of Enlightenment and the ideas that led to the founding of the United States. I thank Galileo for being true to his eyes and helping to usher in the Age of Reason and its glorious offspring, the United States.