Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Are shippers making a fortune out of the supply chain crunch?


A lengthy, but very interesting report from ProPublica suggests they are.  Here's how it begins.

Last fall, a company called One Banana loaded 600,000 pounds of the fruit from its plantations in Guatemala and Ecuador onto ships bound for the Port of Long Beach in California. Once they arrived, the bananas, packed in refrigerated containers, were offloaded by cranes for trucking to a nearby warehouse, where the fruit would be sent to supermarkets nationwide.

But in the midst of a global supply chain crisis, none of the trucking companies the importer normally worked with were willing to come and get the containers.

As the bananas sat at the marine terminal, a logistics specialist for One Banana scrambled, contacting more than a dozen trucking firms.

With each passing hour, the bananas grew closer to spoiling.

“We need to pull out 15 containers from Long Beach Port,” the logistics specialist wrote in an email to one firm. “Please let me know if you could help me with this.”

A trucking company finally said it could — but only if One Banana first paid $12,000 per container on top of already higher transportation costs.

This is where the plot ripens.

If One Banana were to accept that additional fee and pass the full cost along to consumers, the bananas could go from 60 cents a pound to 90 cents a pound. That alone might not break your budget, but rising prices of everyday items are adding up to the worst inflation in 40 years. Many of the causes may seem obvious. Massive consumer spending and pandemic shutdowns have strained supply chains. The war in Ukraine is driving up the price of gas. But the extra fees for transporting bananas — and countless other products — are a hidden and mind-boggling source of inflation controlled by ocean carriers.

Simply put, as ballooning costs hit the wallets of American families, the global ocean shipping industry is enjoying its most profitable period in recent history. In the first quarter of 2022, the biggest carriers’ operating margins hit 57%, according to one industry research firm, after hovering in the single digits before the pandemic.

The hauler that wanted $12,000 per container to move the bananas told the One Banana logistics specialist that it needed the money to cover a slew of fees the ocean carriers were tacking onto freight bills. Hapag-Lloyd, the German shipping giant that owned the containers the bananas were sitting in, had become particularly notorious in the freight industry, leading to multiple complaints to the Federal Maritime Commission.

In normal times, the fees, known as detention and demurrage, make a lot of sense. Importers who don’t pick up their stuff on time get charged demurrage for storage at the marine terminals. Truckers who don’t return an empty container on time pay late fees, or detention. The purpose of the penalties is to incentivize the various players in the supply chain to keep goods flowing.

Most of the imported goods Americans buy are carried by ship and unloaded at ports like Long Beach for transportation by truck or rail toward their final destination.

But as supply chains snarled last year, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles ran out of room and became clogged with shipping containers that importers, often big-box retailers and brands, weren’t able to retrieve. Surrounding truckyards and streets were flooded with empty containers, temporarily dumped there by trucking companies that couldn’t get appointments to return them to the ports.

Hapag had made it “extremely difficult” to return empty containers, the trucking company said, and it was often left holding them for a month, all while Hapag continued to charge the firm $400 a day for each container that wasn’t returned on time. One trucking company that the importer contacted said it almost had to shut down temporarily because all the chassis — the steel frames with wheels that attach to trucks — that it needed to pull new loads from the ports were sitting under 70 empty containers that Hapag refused to take back.

Essentially, One Banana and several trucking companies said Hapag had created the situation it was now profiting from.

“It’s like renting a car at the airport, and when you try to return it, they’re saying, ‘No, you have to hang on to it for us, and we’re gonna continue to charge you,’” said Fred Johring, the CEO of one of the trucking firms, Golden State Logistics.

Hapag declined to comment, but in filings with the Maritime Commission, it denied One Banana’s allegations that the fees were unfair.

There's much more at the link, covering many other examples of how shippers appear to be holding their customers hostage and charging them excessive fees.

This is one of the primary causes of inflation - companies charging as much as they think the market will bear, whether or not there's any economic justification for it.  To me, it's the unacceptable face of capitalism, greed running rampant.  Whatever these companies charge, their customers will be forced to pay;  and they'll try to recover those costs from their customers in turn, because they can't afford to pay them out of pocket.  Eventually, all those costs, ballooning ever higher, come to rest in the retail price of the product, which you and I must pay - or do without the goods and services we need.

You can see these excess profits in action in the balance sheets of big shippers.  For example, at Maersk, one of the largest shipping lines in the world, revenues increased 55% in a single year, from $39.7 billion in 2020 to $61.8 billion in 2021.  Profits at its Ocean arm rose from $29.2 billion in 2020 to $48.2 billion in 2021.  That's a heck of a profit margin compared to overall revenue.  Any company in the world would absolutely love a balance sheet like that!  Guess who paid for those profits?  Ultimately, you and I did, because we bought the products that were shipped on Maersk ships and using Maersk services, and the costs companies paid to use Maersk were passed on to us.

When you read the whole of that ProPublica article, you'll understand how Maersk and every other shipping line and freight handler are basically ripping us off for every penny they can squeeze out of us.  In the process, they're damaging our entire economy - but they don't care.  That's raw, unfettered capitalism in action.  They're going to charge what the market will bear until it can't bear it any longer;  then they're going to take their excess profits and use them for their and their shareholders' advantage, while reluctantly and grudgingly reducing what they charge us, as slowly as they can.

Our economic mess is, indeed, the result of catastrophic mismanagement by governments all over the world;  but it's not only governments that are at fault.  A whole lot of companies must also bear their share of the blame.


Tuesday, July 5, 2022

An inflation vacation


Here's how Stephan Pastis sees it in his "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip.  Click the image to be taken to a larger version at the comic's Web page.

I've had holidays like that . . .


Reading the signs: November 2022 will see electoral manipulation like never before


The signs of impending election manipulation on a national scale are all around us, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear them.  It's already manifesting itself in a minor way, and that'll gear up to a hurricane by November.

Consider these recent headlines:

The mainstream media are simply not covering these issues at all.  By ignoring them, and keeping any mention of the questions they raise out of news coverage, they're ensuring that most American voters never hear of these matters, and never have the opportunity to question whether or not their votes are actually being honestly recorded and/or counted.

I still have contacts in the Department of Justice, dating back to my days as a prison chaplain.  Some of those with whom I had contact in those days, in more than one federal agency, have now reached relatively senior rank.  I spoke with a few of them last week, and every one confirmed that there seems to be an air of blithe confidence in the upper reaches of federal government bureaucracy that the Biden administration will be able to continue with its programs, no matter what happens in November.  It's being blatantly referred to as "business as usual, before and after November".  Strange, that, when you read headlines like "Joe Biden and Democrats Stare Into the Abyss After Latest Poll Drops".  It doesn't sound like the progressive left is staring into any abyss that worries them, does it? - particularly when you read the articles linked above.

The way in which progressive pressure groups and funding influenced the November 2020 elections has been analyzed in exhaustive detail.  Here's just one assessment.

What happened in 2020 is cultural and systemic, and sadly, generally legal ... it will happen again.

Two things happened in 2020. First, COVID led to a dismantling of state election integrity laws by everyone except the one body with the constitutional prerogative to change the rules of electing the president – the state legislatures.

Second, the Center for Technology and Civic Life happened.

. . .

The Center for Technology and Civic Life and allied groups are responsible for building an urban get-out-the-vote-machine of the sort that Democrats could only dream up on a bender fueled by jugs of Merlot and all the legalized pot they could smoke.

. . .

Hundreds of millions of private charitable dollars flowed into key urban county election offices in battleground states. The same private philanthropic largess did not reach red counties. Urban counties were able to revolutionize government election offices into Joe Biden turnout machines.

Here’s the best part — All of this is legal. Do not allow your shock and confusion about what happened in 2020 lead you to mislabel all of this as “voter fraud” or “quasi-legal.” The Left excels at making the unprecedented real and the seemingly illegal, legal.

. . .

This also explains how the GOP was so successful everywhere… except at the top of the ticket.  A flood of blue votes gushing out of deep blue urban areas has a statewide effect only for statewide candidates. It doesn’t affect legislative races outside of the cities.

But what about fraud, you might wonder. Sure enough, fraud was a problem ... Mail ballots went to dead people. Mail ballots went to abandoned mines in Nevada. Mail ballots went to vacant lots in Pittsburgh. Mail ballots went in the garbage. Mail ballots were voted by people other than the voter ... By and large, the Democrats succeeded in tossing out state laws related to absentee ballot verification, deadlines and a whole range of laws all in the name of COVID. By and large, GOP efforts in court failed. It was a courtroom bloodbath that created vulnerabilities across the system.

The important point to understand is that elections are messy, and in 2020 hundreds of millions of dollars thrown at lawsuits and at election officials made the 2020 elections the messiest ever.

There's more at the link, and it's all worth reading.

Also worth reading is this in-depth report on what money was spent in the battleground states in 2020, and who it helped:

It's essential information for understanding the 2020 election results - and what the progressive left is planning to do in November 2022.

What's also very telling is the immediate anger from the progressive left that's greeted the Supreme Court's acceptance of a case that may restore Constitutional norms to the certification of a state's electors, putting it back into the hands of that state's Legislature rather than leaving it to bureaucrats and election officials.  Such a step would make it much more difficult to achieve a desired result by subverting - legally or otherwise - the faceless figures who administer elections, who might be "encouraged" to take steps favoring one side or the other.  

The Supreme Court decided on June 30 to hear an important new case that Republicans hope will re-empower state legislatures to make rules for redistricting and governing congressional and presidential elections.

Republicans say the U.S. Constitution has always directly authorized state legislatures to make rules for the conduct of elections, including presidential elections. Democrats say this idea, encompassed by the Independent State Legislature Doctrine, is a fringe conservative legal theory that could endanger voting rights. The Supreme Court has reportedly never ruled on the doctrine.

The doctrine, if endorsed by the high court, could allow state legislatures to select presidential electors in disputed elections, something critics decry as a threat to democracy.

Election law expert J. Christian Adams, a former U.S. Department of Justice civil rights attorney who now heads the Public Interest Legal Foundation, an election integrity group, praised the Supreme Court for granting the case, which he said was “very important.”

“It means that the Court may take up all the nonsense that has been occurring over the last 10 years,” Adams told The Epoch Times by email.

In a series of Twitter posts, Democratic Party attorney and election law activist Marc Elias denounced the court’s decision to hear the case.

Again, more at the link.

Tell me . . . why would one political party's "election law activist" be so upset at an attempt to reassert constitutional norms?  Is it because doing so would undo a great deal of the activism that's attempted to bypass, subvert and ignore those norms?  That's my assumption, at any rate.  Think what this could mean if a single city (say, Detroit in Michigan, or Milwaukee in Wisconsin) or a single county (say, Maricopa in Arizona, or Fulton in Georgia) had been so obviously subverted by outside influences that its big block of votes threatened to overturn the democratic will of the people in the rest of the state?  The state legislature could step in, refuse to accept that city's or county's results, and certify the state's Presidential electors and/or Senators on the basis of state-wide results excluding the affected areas - a nightmare for those who'd gone to all that effort to subvert them.  That's why I think Mr. Elias and others of his ilk are angry at the prospect.  I can see no other reason for such a reaction.

Folks, we saw massive electoral manipulation in November 2020.  Call it what you like, legal or illegal, valid or invalid, it's my personal opinion that it amounted to nothing more or less than electoral fraud - a deliberate distortion of the overall popular vote by manipulating certain targeted areas and their voters.  I think what we saw then is a pale shadow of what we're going to see in November 2022.  The powers that be are bound and determined that they're not going to lose control of the House and/or Senate, no matter how unpopular their party may have become;  and they have (or believe they have) the tools to make sure that happens, no matter what the will of the electorate may be.  They're going to use every one of those tools, and then some, to win.  They are already using them, as the articles linked above demonstrate.

As individuals, we can't affect what may happen on a national scale;  but we can affect what happens on a local scale.  If you care about our constitutional republic, and the democratic expression of the will of the people, please get involved.  Volunteer as a poll watcher, or a vote counter, or whatever posts may be available in your area.  Support those who are trying to run the election honestly, and watch like a hawk those who are doing otherwise.  Speak out.  Make sure the election administrators in your area know they're under scrutiny.  Get their names, addresses and other information that may help in future when it comes to dealing with the consequences of any shenanigans.

We know the electoral manipulation tsunami is coming.  Let's start preparing now, so that in its aftermath we can deal with the damage and minimize its long-term effects.  Also, no matter how optimistic the forecasts, don't assume that any side or party has the November 2022 elections "in the bag".  Anything can (and may well) happen between now and then.  I expect the dirty tricks to fly thick and fast before we get to the voting booth.


An interesting perspective on morals and virtues


Larry Lambert published this very interesting diagram on his blog the other day.  Clickit to biggit.

I found it intriguing, and looked for more information.  It comes from a Christian academic paper authored by James D. Lanctot and Justin A. Irving, titled "Character and Leadership: Situating Servant Leadership in a Proposed Virtues Framework".  (It was tricky finding that source, because it's been mis-catalogued by the university.  Follow my link and you'll get there - just ignore the wrong title assigned to the paper.)  The paper included this second, equally interesting chart.

Speaking as a retired Christian pastor, I found it very interesting to compare those charts to the prison inmates with whom I've worked (and with my own character, as best I can tell).  I think they're very useful guidelines to assess oneself and those in positions with which one must interact - politicians, administrators, bureaucrats, and so on.  If we understand their positions on the various continua, we may be better able to interact with them by tailoring our approach;  and, if their positions are simply too far off the norm, it'll be a clue that we may be better off replacing them.

Try analyzing, first yourself, then popular politicians along those continua.  It's an interesting exercise.  Once you've done so, ask yourself:  "Does that politician really represent who I am, and/or who I want him/her to be?  Do I really want to vote for this person?"  If we're Christians, we could do a lot worse than apply those criteria to the way we vote.  Others will have their own criteria, of course.


Monday, July 4, 2022

Old armor is equipped to perform new tricks


I was intrigued to learn (courtesy of a post by SNAFU Solomon) about a modern adaptation of former Soviet T-62 tanks (first produced in the 1960's) by the Algerian Army.

I came across T-62's in the field, way back when.  They were impressive enough from an infantry point of view, but were less able to handle more modern, higher-technology Western tanks in combat, as proved in (for example) the 1973 Yom Kippur war, South Africa's Border War and other conflicts.  They were rapidly replaced in front-line service by the more modern T-72 tank and its derivatives.  Still, more than 22,000 T-62's were built, and there are several thousand still in operational or reserve use by many armies.  The Russians are reported to be using them in Ukraine at present, presumably in less active areas of fighting, so as to reserve their more modern (and more expensive) T-72's for the most critical areas.

The former Soviet Union learned several expensive lessons during urban and close-quarters combat in Afghanistan and elsewhere, reinforced by lessons learned in Russia during the post-Soviet era in, for example, Chechnya.  They led to the development of a tank-based infantry support vehicle;  a hybrid between an infantry fighting vehicle's weaponry and a main battle tank's level of protection.  Wikipedia describes the development of the BMPT Terminator as follows.

The history of the BMPT's development can be traced back to the Soviet–Afghan War. Combat experience during the lengthy war revealed that infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) like the BMP-1 and BMP-2 cannot fully deal with infantry, despite the BMP-2's high gun elevation. Although main battle tanks (MBTs) possessed a high amount of firepower, the limited elevation and depression angles of the main gun made them easy targets in mountainous and urban terrain ... It was evident that a new vehicle concept was needed. The main requirements for this new machine were to possess large firepower, high angles of elevation and depression, and a protection equivalent to that of an MBT. An additional requirement that was meant to supplement the latter was enhanced protection from close-range hand-held RPGs.

The need for such a vehicle became even more evident during the First Chechen War. When using conventional armor during urban engagements, Russian forces suffered heavy losses in manpower and equipment, including the destruction of an entire mechanized brigade during the first battle of Grozny. While these losses cannot be entirely blamed on technology, it became clear that a dedicated anti-personnel fighting vehicle would provide valuable assistance in an urban environment. Self-propelled anti-aircraft guns were used as a temporary solution in Chechnya. However, these vehicles weren't well-armored and didn't possess the obstacle-clearing capabilities of an MBT.

. . .

The production model of the BMPT was introduced in 2002 and featured twin 30 mm autocannons, two independent 30 mm automatic grenade launchers, and four Ataka missile launchers. 


When used in urban terrain, each main battle tank is to be deployed with two BMPTs. Outside of urban warfare that ratio is reversed with one BMPT protecting two main battle tanks. This results from the complexity of fighting in urban terrain and the need for a versatile anti-personnel platform that can engage multiple targets at once and on different height levels. The introduction of such a vehicle makes urban fighting less stressful on MBTs and can relieve them of some of the workload so that they can concentrate on their main objective of engaging other tanks and hardened targets. The BMPT's armor protection is equal to that of an MBT and its powerful armaments allow it to engage virtually any enemy formation while operating in a common battle formation. Thanks to the multiple weapons systems found on the BMPT, this vehicle is able to fire at multiple targets simultaneously. These features significantly help increase the combat effectiveness of tank units and decrease their losses from enemy close-combat assets.

There's more at the link.  Here's the current, second (upgraded) model of the Russian BMPT-2 (image courtesy of Wikipedia).  Clickit to biggit.

Obviously, new-production BMPT-type vehicles are going to be expensive.  However, lots of armies have older-technology tanks still sitting in their depots and parking lots.  They aren't capable of facing modern main battle tanks (MBT's) on the battlefield, but if modified along the lines of the BMPT concept, they may be very useful in urban and mountainous terrain to support infantry units, allowing MBT's to be reserved for their primary function.

Algeria bought several hundred BMPT-2's from Russia, and seems to have been impressed with their versatility.  It also has several hundred older T-62 tanks in its arsenal.  It now appears to be modifying the latter to be a slightly less potent, but nevertheless very useful (and much cheaper) version of the BMPT.  (You'll find a lot more historical and technical information about Algeria's T-62's and their upgraded version here.)  Algeria is applying the Berezhok combat module, a new turret developed to upgrade the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle developed for the Soviet Army in the 1980's, to their T-62 hulls.  The new turret uses a single 30mm. cannon and a single 30mm. grenade launcher rather than the two of each fielded by the BMPT, as well as four Kornet anti-tank missiles.

Here's what the upgraded Algerian T-62 "mini-me BMPT" looks like.

Tactically, this offers a whole range of possibilities in urban combat.  The high elevation of the 30mm. cannon means the vehicle can stand back from a building, scanning upper floors for any sign of a missile or rocket team intending to shoot down at advancing forces, and destroy the building around them before they can fire.  It's heavily armored enough to withstand small arms fire, and with vigilance by its crew and the use of add-on slat armor (often improvised in the field), it should be able to fend off at least a few strikes by rockets or missiles.  Its "Sunday punch", the four anti-tank missiles, are accurate and powerful enough to take out enemy strongpoints.  They can be fitted with conventional, hollow-charge or thermobaric warheads, and there may be enough room inside the T-62's hull to carry missile reloads.  By using the space formerly reserved for 115mm. main gun rounds, the vehicle can probably carry far more ammunition for its 30mm. cannon and grenade launchers than a typical infantry fighting vehicle, giving extended combat endurance before it's forced to withdraw to rearm itself.

I don't know whether BMPT-type vehicles have yet been sufficiently tested in actual combat to prove themselves, but it seems clear that more and more armies, including Algeria's, are seeing a need for something like them.  Close-quarters urban combat has long been a nightmare for military planners, because it chews up units, soldiers and weapons in a veritable slaughterhouse.  It's long been a scenario to be avoided at all costs, if at all possible.  Can the BMPT concept change that?  Can upgraded older MBT's gain a new lease on life as lower-cost BMPT-type vehicles?  The jury is still out, but it looks like an intriguing possibility.  We'll have to keep a weather eye out for more combat experience with them, and see whether they change the urban battlefield equation.

Meanwhile, thousands - possibly tens of thousands - of obsolescent and obsolete MBT's, even perhaps those dating back to World War II such as former Soviet T-34's (yes, some are still in service in the Third World), may have suddenly been given a new lease on life on the modern battlefield.  It'll be intriguing to see how many nations and their armies pick up on that.


A happy and blessed Independence Day to all my readers


In honor of the occasion, here's what's always struck me as a quintessentially American celebration:  rock group Boston performing the National Anthem instrumentally at a football game on July 4th, 2006.

May the freedom we celebrate today continue to be a reality;  and may all who threaten that freedom lose their own.


Memes that made me laugh 115


Collected around the Internet over the past week.  Click any image for a larger view.

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Sunday morning music


Here's a treat for Pink Floyd fans, and for David Gilmour's fans in particular.

On 26th August 2006, Gilmour performed the final concert of his "On An Island" tour at the Gdansk Shipyard in Poland, in honor of the 26th anniversary of the founding of the Solidarity trade union, one of the driving forces behind the eventual collapse of Communism in that country.  A recording of the whole concert was later released in several formats under the title "Live in Gdansk".

Here's the DVD recording of "Live in Gdansk" - the whole concert, which included the complete album "On An Island", for which the tour was named.

Classic progressive rock from one of the greatest performers in the field.


Saturday, July 2, 2022

Saturday Snippet: A reminder of what we're fighting for


On March 23rd, 1775, Patrick Henry gave his famous Address to the Second Virginia Convention, which was debating whether or not to join with other states to defy British attempts to divide and rule them ever more onerously.  If you substitute "liberal-progressive politicians" for "British", it's still pretty relevant and applicable to our situation today.

It seems a suitable Snippet for the Fourth of July weekend to reproduce his speech in full.

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony.

The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.

Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort.

I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging.

And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne!

In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending—if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.

Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?

Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!