After nearly four days without power following the freak storm that left millions in the mid-Atlantic states in the dark, one thing I could do when the electricity came back on was try to figure out who coined the mortifyingly apt greeting, "Happy Dependence Day."
Was it the Washington Times editorial page, which so titled its July 4 holiday comment on Obamacare and the burgeoning superstate? Was it author, screenwriter and blogger Andrew Klavan, two days earlier, writing along the same lines at Pajamas Media? Was it the writer of a July 2 letter in the Arizona Republic urging electoral change in November lest we celebrate "Dependence Day" -- as in dependence on the federal government -- from here on out?
No. The earliest use I have found in a by-no-means exhaustive search was in 2010 by cartoonist A.F. Branco marking President Obama's giant spending programs. Recycling the slogan this week, Branco came up with a far more potent image. In his one-frame cartoon, star-spangled letters spell out Happy Independence Day as a gavel labeled SCOTUS whacks the "In" off "Independence." Happy Dependence Day.
That perfectly sums up my sense of the nation's 236th birthday. By too many measures, we are no longer a self-governing people. Our president dictates law from the Rose Garden, as when he recently bestowed amnesty on more than 1 million illegal aliens (unconstitutional). Our Supreme Court rewrites law from the bench, as with the cataclysmic ruling on Obamacare (also unconstitutional). No matter how many fireworks went off across the country on schedule, the rockets' red, white and blue glare gave truth to the pathetic sight of Americans celebrating a state of liberty they no longer actually enjoy. Ask Arizona, which the president and the Supreme Court both recently told, as Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer succinctly put it, to "drop dead." Meanwhile, on the National Mall, the heavy security apparatus imposed over America's official birthday party -- security checkpoints, baggage searches, "eye in the sky" surveillance, police armed with submachine guns -- belie any notion of living in "the land of the free." Whether we admit it -- and we don't -- we are a nation under siege by Islamic jihad even as our individual autonomy falls to the encroaching superstate.