An open letter to James Madison

To the Honorable James Madison

Dear Sir,

I am writing to request your help and guidance. It has been some 230 years since you wrote the Constitution of the United States of America, a document I believe you had intended to establish a permanent, cohesive Democratic Republic --- the first of its kind on the face of the earth. In that document, you and your colleagues outlined a government that would be subservient to the people, deriving its powers from the consent of the governed.

Having been through decades of rule by a despotic king and parliament you did not elect, you laid out a framework for a government with very limited powers. Instead of creating a powerful, centralized government, your Constitution instead set forth a system that would ensure the people would retain their natural rights and individual states would retain their own sovereignty and control over their own destinies.

Your Constitution specified a government that would be in balance, with an elected bicameral legislature designed to ensure rural, agricultural states would not be ruled by densely populated urban states.

Your document laid forth three branches of government, with each branch having the power to curb the power of the others --- designed to prevent any branch of government from developing the power to take away the rights of the people or of the states.

And while the Constitution details very limited powers granted to the government, it also provides for the flexibility of being able to be amended by the people when they determine their freedom and security might be better served with new powers they choose to grant to the government, or powers they wish to take back from it.

In short, you wrote the Constitution to secure the blessings of liberty to yourself and your posterity, to create upon this earth a great experiment: a nation of individuals who would self-govern, where the government would never be allowed to steal the freedom and wealth of its people.

Your experiment has failed.

Well, sir, I regret to inform you that your experiment has failed. Your Constitution didn't work.

If the goal of the Constitution was to form a government that had limited power over its people and would never grow to deprive people of their liberty, their property and their lives, then it was a failure.

Don't get me wrong, it had a really good run.

The nation you helped to found quickly grew to become the most powerful nation on earth. Freedom was let loose upon this land, and the ingenuity of the people of the United States, unencumbered by a controlling, centralized government was able to build the most prosperous, wealthy and powerful country that has ever existed in the world.

With liberty assured to its citizens, the country you built has been to the moon. We have lifted billions of people around the world out of poverty. We have harnessed the power of the atom. We have vehicles with the power of 800 horses under the hood.

Mr. Madison, the nation you envisioned in your Constitution was real for a while. With the government out of their way, the people did what you thought they would: they flourished.

However, it didn't last.

Today in the nation you founded, we have lost those freedoms you detailed so thoroughly. The Constitution, designed to ensure a government of limited powers, is largely ignored and forgotten. The government no longer feels compelled to pay any heed to your document. The people of your nation are no longer secure in their own homes.

The government listens to all their conversations without warrants. The government steals their wealth at its own whim. The government's authority is not limited by the Constitution you wrote. Today in your nation, legislators who stand in defense of your Constitution are openly ridiculed in the media and on the floor of Congress for having old-fashioned thinking that is out of date. The government of today dictates to us what we are allowed to eat, to watch, to say, to purchase.

Our government determines for us what medicine we can take when we're sick, what our religious leaders are allowed to say from the pulpit, how fast we can drive our cars and what firearms we are allowed to have to defend ourselves. Our government openly spies upon us, forces our children to go to schools that it controls and takes our wealth at the point of a gun to fund endless wars across every continent on earth.

I'm writing to beg for your help.

In short, Mr. Madison, I'm writing to beg for your help. I need your help to understand. You see, you wrote the Constitution with what appears to be a fatal flaw: in order to fulfill its function of ensuring a government with limited powers that is incapable of taking away the rights of its citizens, it relies upon people.

The Constitution holds so much promise for a people, but it also relies on them to live it, to enforce it.

Today, if a Senator or House member stands to speak of limited government, they are shouted down as someone who must hate children, or must hate minorities or women. Today, our government is expected by the people to solve every perceived problem for every person and group on earth. Today, the government must control the weather, they must end disease and poverty, they are expected to ensure people don't get fat, don't get addicted to drugs, don't get concussions playing sports. The government must control hate and ensure nobody's feelings get hurt. Today, people willingly trade their freedom for the illusion of safety.

This great evil --- where did it come from? How did it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who is doing this? Who is killing us, robbing us of life and light, mocking us with the sight of what we might have known?

Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine?

Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed through this night? Did you imagine the evil in your era, James?

I suppose it is unfair to judge you too harshly. After all, you did design and build the most powerful, free and wealthy nation that has ever existed. You designed a country that would see human beings for the wonderful creatures they are, that would respect their nature as a species, that would let them think and act freely.

Your document, in its simple brilliance, respects man as man is by his nature: a self-aware being of free will, endowed by its creator with inalienable rights that are neither granted to it nor dependent upon any other person or group. Rights that belong to each of us simply because we exist at all.

I wonder what you might say to us today. What might you say to Senator Mike Lee or Ted Cruz or Congressmen Thomas Massie, just before they stand up on the floor of Congress to defend some passage in your Constitution? What might you say to a school teacher when she gets to the chapter in the textbook that covers the Founding Fathers?

What might you say to me, sir? I, who have been a staunch defender of your document for most of my adult life. I, who have defended those in government who still try to live by your document?

Maybe you'd say:

Dear Mr. Beck, thank you for your note.

Sorry, the whole Free Nation thing didn't work out, good luck in the gulags.

Or maybe you'd say:

Glenn,

Don't give up on it, keep on defending your liberty, as we did in my day when a government stood against us to snuff it out.

Or maybe you'd tell us all the simple truth. The Constitution is just writing on a piece of paper. It only has the power you choose to grant it. Your freedom and liberty are not guaranteed by a piece of paper, nor could they ever be. They are secured and guaranteed by each of you, acting and working together to ensure your fellow citizens don't act to deprive you of them. Maybe you'd say:

It is not that the Constitution failed the people, Mr. Beck. It's that the people have failed The Constitution.

- Glenn Beck

Would Glenn make a better bounty hunter or a Jedi? You'll have to find out in a new episode of the Beltway Banthas Podcast, where Glenn goes deep on Star Wars with host Stephen Kent. In this 45 minute discussion, Stephen and Glenn explore the political themes of the Star Wars franchise, Darth Vader's redemption from Return of the Jedi, Glenn's earliest memories of seeing the films and even debate elements of the latest Star Wars films.

If you enjoy the pop culture and nerdy discussions that Glenn, Pat and Stu get into on the radio show, you'll love this! After you're through, you can also check out Stu Burguiere's appearance on Beltway Banthas to talk Star Wars. You can find that here.


It's never too early to start your Christmas, Hanukah, or Kwanzaa shopping. Or even birthday gift shopping. Especially if that special someone in your life is a Democrat. Because at last count, pretty much all the Democrats are now running for president. And that means there has never been a wider selection of official candidate merchandise to choose from. Whether you're into environmentalism, feminism, classism, socialism, or just plain love, there is a smorgasbord of classy items that you and yours will treasure forever... or at least until the next presidential election.

We have browsed each of the candidates' online stores, so you don't have to (it only took us three months). We have curated only the finest items from each of the Democrats running for president of the United States of America. Without further ado, here is your handy progressive gift guide – or maybe your what-not-to-gift guide.

First, the bargain basement options. Hurry! Time is running out to grab your Beto bandana, or your Delaney pack of golf balls, because at this point Stu has as much of a chance as these guys of getting the nomination.

Tom Steyer, for example – is he still in the race?


https://shop.tomsteyer.com/collections/frontpage/products/tom-2020-pattern-tee


There's way too much Tom here. That shirt's got more Toms than a Caucasian dentists' convention.

For the slightly more moderate Democrat in your life, perhaps they'd like to join the "Yang Gang"…

https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/bumper-stickers/products/yanggang-decal


Andrew Yang is a lock for Math Club president…


https://shop.yang2020.com/collections/apparel/products/math-hat


But for actual president? Well, I wouldn't make plans for how you're going to spend your $1,000-per-month Yang allowance just yet.

If you happen to be shopping for your dog, may I suggest this lovely "Dogs for Delaney" dog collar…


https://store.johndelaney.com/products/dogs-for-delaney-collar


John Delaney's definitely going to secure the canine vote with this kind of outreach. As for any human votes, that's another question entirely.

How 'bout this tastefully understated "Natural Canvas" Michael Bennet tote to remind you he's also still here?...


https://store.michaelbennet.com/michael-bennet-for-america-natural-canvas-tote/


Then again, it's a tote. So, it'll end up on the floor of your closet and you won't have it with you until that one random moment when you're out somewhere and you really need a tote bag. Just like Democrats will really wish they had a moderate when we're in the middle of the socialist nightmare of their creation.

Captain Planet himself, Jay Inslee recently dropped out of the race, but don't let that stop you from picking up what may be the greatest single item sold by anyone in this race…


https://store.jayinslee.com/elvis-the-elves-the-mystery-of-the-melting-snow-by-jay-inslee/


A children's book called Elvis & the Elves: the Mystery of the Melting Snow. Written and illustrated by Governor Jay Inslee. Talk about a whodunnit – how could that snow possibly be melting? Spoiler alert: it's because of evil, white, patriarchal capitalism. And Donald Trump.

Then there's the candidate who thinks you're a moron that can't pronounce his last name: Steve Bullock...


https://shop.stevebullock.com/collections/apparel/products/emoji-t-shirt


Get it? Bull. Lock. Oh, so that's how you say the name that sounds exactly how it's spelled.

There's another candidate who also thinks you need help pronouncing his last name…


https://store.peteforamerica.com/collections/apparel/products/boot-edge-edge-t-shirt


And he is definitely right about that. So, thank you, Pete "Boot Edge Edge." That helps.

Just outside the bargain bin section, but just barely, are candidates like Julian Castro and his "El Presidente" t-shirt…


https://store.julianforthefuture.com/julian-castro-loteria-card-white-tee/


When your last name's Castro, do you really want to go with a weird drawing of yourself as if you're a classic Latin American dictator on a postage stamp?

If you prefer a little "dark psychic forces" battling in your candidates, you'll love Marianne Williamson's "Turn Love Into a Political Force" rally sign…


https://store.marianne2020.com/collections/signs/products/love-rally-sign


"Turn Love Into a Political Force" would be an even better title for a Marianne Williamson album of 80s cover songs. And if you think I'm joking, then you haven't heard Bernie Sanders' classic 1987 folk album, We Shall Overcome. That's not a joke. Well, it is a joke, but it's also a very real thing.

Now, just a quick pause to consider the peculiar baby-wear that way too many candidates are selling…

…including Elizabeth Warren's trans-pride flag onesie. Let me get this straight – we can't force any gender on a child, because that's just cruel. But we can force a political advertisement on a baby? How do we know that baby is actually a Biden or Warren fan? The child may not even be a Democrat or a Socialist at all. That baby might self-identify as a Libertarian, or Republican, or even worse – a moderate Democrat.

Now to the premium items from the premium candidates. Elizabeth Warren – the candidate with the most honesty in her advertising…


https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/apparel/products/impolite-arrogant-women-make-history-unisex-t-shirt

-AND-

https://shop.elizabethwarren.com/collections/drinkware/products/strong-american-unions-mug


Warren's merchandise reflects the woman herself – cold and humorless (watch her "This isn't funny" clip from the last debate here at the 4:27 mark). I'm sure she's really fun once you get to know her. Then again, maybe not.

Speaking of serious women, Kamala Harris wants to be president very badly for you, the people, as you can tell from her "For the People" poster…


https://store.kamalaharris.org/poster-for-the-people/


At $29.99 though, she's sure not charging "people's" prices. Of course, she might be having to pay royalties to a certain someone for riffing on their poster. Just saying.

For the race's number one socialist, there's a whole lot of capitalism going on in Bernie Sanders' campaign. He sells so many delightful items that it's hard to choose. But we did anyway. The most random item is this hundred-dollar, black, "Art of a Political Revolution – Artists for Bernie Sanders Coaches Jacket"…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/artists-for-bernie-coaches-jacket


Coaches across the land will be clamoring for this one. You know, since coaches are such a strong Bernie-socialist demographic.

If that's a little over your budget you might consider a "Feel the Bern" fanny pack, to help store all those government freebies you'll get from Bernie…


https://store.berniesanders.com/collections/apparel/products/feel-the-bern-fanny-pack


This is the only context in which you'll ever want to hear "feel the burn" and "fanny" in the same sentence.

And finally, from front-runner Joe Biden, we have this fine "Women's Fitted Biden Polo." Which is just about the best polo description ever…


https://store.joebiden.com/collections/apparel/products/biden-polo-womens-fit


It promises the kind of snug approach that Biden loves to provide women. Even when they don't ask.

This was one of the first homesteads in the area in the 1880's and was just begging to be brought back to its original glory — with a touch of modern. When we first purchased the property, it was full of old stuff without any running water, central heat or AC, so needless to say, we had a huge project ahead of us. It took some vision and a whole lot of trust, but the mess we started with seven years ago is now a place we hope the original owners would be proud of.

To restore something like this is really does take a village. It doesn't take much money to make it cozy inside, if like me you are willing to take time and gather things here and there from thrift shops and little antique shops in the middle of nowhere.

But finding the right craftsman is a different story.

Matt Jensen and his assistant Rob did this entire job from sketches I made. Because he built this in his off hours it took just over a year, but so worth the wait. It wasn't easy as it was 18"out of square. He had to build around that as the entire thing we felt would collapse. Matt just reinforced the structure and we love its imperfections.

Here are a few pictures of the process and the transformation from where we started to where we are now:

​How it was

It doesn't look like much yet, but just you wait and see!

By request a photo tour of the restored cabin. I start doing the interior design in earnest tomorrow after the show, but all of the construction guys are now done. So I mopped the floors, washed the sheets, some friends helped by washing the windows. And now the unofficial / official tour.

The Property

The views are absolutely stunning and completely peaceful.