Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


When Freemen Shall Stand

After walking across Capitol Hill on errands this morning, seeing the greatly enhanced security that has been brought out in light of a potential terrorist threat this weekend, I sat at my computer and started reading through the news. A 5-minute video on Yahoo went through the events of that terrible day, starting with the carefree news on the early morning about Michael Jordan rumors and other things, and then the belief that this plane crash was an accident, and then the horror in the newscasters' voices upon learning that it was not. I felt that heart-wrenching feeling, that labored breathing, that welling up in my eyes that has been common ever since the creation of YouTube allowed such clips of that day to be replayed over and over again. One of the main pictures at the Los Angeles Times page remembering the attacks was an image that has been burned in my mind for ten years, flashing on those difficult nights of sleeping--a lone man, white shirt and black pants, falling from the towers. Tears well up in my eyes. Another picture of the crowds gathered at the windows in the tower above the burning hole, fighting desperately for air-- I choke and remember the confusion I felt watching that in my classroom before the teacher shut it off. A video, next, of reactions to the attack from around the world-- screaming of an old woman in New York as she sees the tower collapses, our noble friends in Britain playing our anthem at their palace as weeping crowds stand at the gate, people in Poland and Russia and Vietnam and Australia and Brazil and France weeping on their knees, holding our flag, and placing flowers outside of our embassies. I begin to weep, and just sit in my room and do that for a short while, reliving that day as most others are.

As the stories often start, it was a beautiful day. Normally I watched television when I ate my breakfast, but for whatever reason--I can't remember it--I did not turn it on that morning. I ate my breakfast and got ready for school; my brother and I always had to be there extra early because Mom worked in the school office. We pull out and begin driving down the road; I flip on the radio-- there was a show we usually listened to in the mornings that played good music and had funny hosts, a man and a woman. Today, though, they were not that funny. I frowned and turned it up; they were talking about planes crashing into the Twin Towers. My first thoughts were of disappointment; only a few weeks prior, I had seen a preview for the upcoming Spiderman movie that had a helicopter trapped in a giant web between the two towers, and I had thought it looked cool and eagerly added them to a list I kept of buildings around the country I wanted to see some day.

When heading past the train tracks, we see two students walking along-- Jill, in my brother's class, and Kate, in mine. We pick them up; I'm too distracted to say hello, because the radio said they think a plane had hit the Pentagon too. This is when I start to worry, and look at my mother. "That's where the military is run from, isn't it?" She nods, a frown on face. The female host starts to cry, as the man tells us that one of the towers had just collapsed. We pull into the school parking lot. It is a small, Catholic school; 120 students total. A third of them were Air Force brats; most of the small town, Lompoc, was tied to nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base. My mom goes into the office, my brother and I to our respective classrooms. My teacher is sitting there, staring at the television with wide eyes as it replays a tower falling; as usual, I'm the only student there yet, and I sit with him and watch. They confirm the Pentagon was hit. My teacher heads to join the other teachers and staff in the office; I stare at the running masses and clouds of dust. Suddenly, I get worried; my father was on business in Australia, and due to be coming back today or tomorrow. I go into the office and peak my head inside the teacher's lounge, looking for my mom; I listen to their conversation a while. They are worried. Are we under attack? Should we cancel school? If this were an attack, Vandenberg--which controls most missile defenses on the West Coast--is said to be one of the primary targets to attack. No, we'll not cancel classes yet. Let's see what people say. I get my mom and tell her my father is supposed to be coming back today. She says he'll be okay, we'll get in contact. I am about to insist I talk to him immediately when a 1st-grader walks in, quiet and slow. She comes over to my mother, tears in her eyes, and whispers that her mother--in the Air Force--is in Washington, D.C. this week. I sit with her a while and we hold hands.

The teachers tried to keep to routine, but especially among us older students they just let us watch, turning it off when the images became too brutal. At the end of the day I remember getting home and flipping through every TV channel, shocked at how many had coverage--even the ones that normally don't show news. I stay up late as firemen and other people are trying to get people out, and they talk about people stuck in the rubble using their cellphones to call for help. It is well past my bedtime, and I'm just standing in front of the TV; why aren't they getting people out? They need to be getting more people out. There has to be more than that who are getting out. My mother sends me to bed. Teachers try to talk about it during the next week, but they can't. A few days later we are sitting at dinner, the television on the country music channel in the other room-- a patriotic song comes on, my mother suddenly stands and runs into the other room; my stepfather chases after her as she sobs and asks why they did that to all those people. My brother and I look at each other and keep eating in silence. At Mass that weekend, I sit with my mother, brother, and some of the other teachers. We end mass by singing the National Anthem; on the walk back to the parking lot, I remember Mrs. Ofstead remarking on how much more real the anthem seems now. Rocket's red glare, bombs bursting in air-- and our flag still there.

I pick up on that and look up the full lyrics of the song about a week later. It is the first time I ever read any of the additional verses to our song. I read the startling line-- "Then conquer we must, when our cause is just, and this be our motto: in God is our trust." It is the first time in my life I ever really looked at that word, justice, and tried to figure out what it meant. I had a sense of it; I knew that what had been done was not justice--and thought that, maybe, justice was the opposite of what had happened. The people around the world crying with us, the groups of Americans going there to help find people and clean up, the food and clothing and money drive my school did, the trying to find out and stop those people who did it. Maybe that was it. I would not seriously consider the subject until college, of course, but for the first time I looked at it.

Life did become somewhat different after that; or, rather, I became more aware of things in life, perhaps. I'm still not sure. It is hard to remember, and even harder to describe, what childhood in the 1990s was like-- the only thing to note is that it ended on that day. Seeing those people jumping to their deaths changed it all, and our responses altered seemingly simple things. The only time I had ever seen men with large machine guns standing alongside the road was in Mexico; now I had to pass by such men and other fortifications every morning outside of Vandenberg's main gate on my way to high school. I flied a lot as a kid, and now when I flew they treated everyone as suspicious; I used to love airports-- they were fun and happy places. More military planes seemed to fly in and out of the base after that; loud and rattling our windows. As I grew up, friends and classmates of mine, and my brother's, would join the military and be sent to fight in places I couldn't even find on a map that morning. Few have been hurt, thank God. But the idea when we were riding our bikes around town as children that they would be getting shot at later in life was so, so foreign. I am grateful to them and their bravery, and pray for them, and pray that their work may help make it so that my nieces and nephew and their classmates, born after the attacks, will not have to do the same thing.

This week, there is another reminder of some change. I was sitting and watching the president's speech the other night with a group of students from Hillsdale College, and afterwards the news came of this car bomb threat in Washington and New York this weekend. Briefly, concerned looks were exchanged by some--should we ride the Metro or go to any of the monuments or memorials this weekend? Such concern never existed ten years ago. Neither, though, I think, did such resolve-- the consensus was no, we aren't going to let these puny men keep us in fear. "Triumph we must when our cause is just." And the American cause surely is. We will mourn the dead, reaffirm our belief in justice, and cheer the demise of the beasts who did this to us. We will cry, sit in somber silence, and then continue to live with the memory of those who perished. The image that most stood out to me today when looking at these pictures was taken on the dusty streets of New York after the attacks: Liberty remains unscathed, and it is the only way forward. Thus be it ever.
Categories > History

Quote of the Day

Quotation du Jour

From John Adams, Defence of the Constitutions:

Such severe frugality, such perfect disinterestedness in public characters, appear only, or at least most frequently, in aristocratical governments. Whenever the constitution becomes democratical, such austerities disappear entirely, or at least lose their influence, and the suffrages of the people; and if an unmixed and unchecked people ever choose such men, it is only in times of distress and danger, when they think no others can save them. As soon as the danger is over, they neglect these, and choose others more plausible and indulgent.

Categories > Quote of the Day


Woodrow Wilson

Steve Hayward on another reason to hate Woodrow Wilson. It may not surprise you; it did me. He really was a shallow ideologue. I wonder what he would have thought about motorcycles?
Categories > History

Refine & Enlarge

9/11 at Ten

If prose is a potato and poetry is a bird, then both these items are birds.  The first is Billy Collins reading his poem one year after 9/11 (he was then the Poet Laureate): The Names.  And here is a Letter from an Ohio Farmer reflecting on what has not changed since 9/11, it is called the Regime of Liberty.
Categories > Refine & Enlarge


Waking Up at Ten

In a little over a month, our son will be ten years old.  Of course, this means that he was born in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our country.  It also means that on the morning of September 11, 2001 when my husband screamed, "Julie!  Oh my God . . . come look at this!" I lay in bed, heavily pregnant, and not very inclined to be accommodating to his request.  "What is it?" I shouted back.  "There's been a terrible plane crash!" he explained.  All I could think of at that moment was how annoyed I was to be roused for that news.  Plane crashes are terrible tragedies but, unless you have a direct tie to it, there is no news in it that changes your life or necessitates your getting out of bed.  Nevertheless, I obliged him, and tottered into our den to see what why he was so agitated.

No sooner had I recognized the building and recalled the terrible luck of that place (thinking, of course, of the 1993 bombing) than the second plane struck the second tower.  This was a new order of things.  I thought it was impossible for me to swell any more than I already had in the 8th month of my pregnancy, but this was not true.  Anger filled every pore of my being and I thought I might explode.  And then, as I watched the horror unfold--the tumbling of the buildings, the ash covering those who were able to flee, the realization that innumerable brave souls must have sacrificed themselves in order to save others as they ran into instead of running out of those buildings--the anger receded a bit and gave way to bitter heartache.  Yet the anger found a permanent little refuge ever to dwell in my soul and I accepted it--though not without some regret.  I would never, could never forget this.  Nothing would make it right.  Nothing could ever fully avenge it.  It altered everyone who witnessed it as it would alter everyone who remembered it.  

I remember sobbing much of the day and desperately clutching my curly-headed daughter, then only a toddler.  She had no way of understanding what was going on or why her parents were so gut-stricken that day.  But even she sensed that the world--which just the day before had included a carefree trip to the county fair--was now different and that joy, should it come, would come along with caution.  The confidence that assures the vulnerable and makes them forget their condition was shaken.  We were all vulnerable now.  In truth, however, this was not a new state of things.  It was just that a generation of Americans unaccustomed to acknowledging it except in abstractions, was rudely awakened to a fundamental truth of human existence:  the good things in life are fragile.  We had taken our security and prosperity for granted and, even more, we had assumed that our liberty was a given and a permanent fact.  Coming to know what to do with this realization would be the hard (and often thankless) work of the next decade (or more).  Remembering that realization--though it then seemed impossible that we could forget--will be the work of the decades to follow this anniversary. 

On October 10, 2001 I woke up in the pre-dawn hours to realize that I was in labor.  Since my daughter had been born in less than six hours and second babies generally come faster, I had been advised to get to the hospital at the first sign of contractions.  When I arrived, however, the nurses examined me and I could hear them murmuring to each other about possibly sending me home.  "She'll probably just be back later tonight or tomorrow," said one.  "Tomorrow?" I thought, "No!"  In addition to wishing to avoid anti-climax and continue with the dragging discomfort of heavy pregnancy, I could not bear the thought of birthing a son on the one-month anniversary of the attacks.  A television, tuned to CNN, blared in the delivery room with pictures from the mammoth efforts to clean-up at Ground Zero.  "Tomorrow will mark the one-month anniversary of the September 11 attacks," the anchors dutifully announced, as if anyone could forget.  I pulled aside one of the nurses.  Her son had just been mobilized to head over to Afghanistan and she read the look on my face.  "He will be born today, not tomorrow.  I understand," she assured me, and then she got my doctor to order a pitocin drip.  It turned out, actually, to be barely necessary.  My son was born about an hour and half after this conversation with the nurse.

As she brought him to me, I looked upon his little face and remembered my fears about raising a boy (as I come from a family accustomed only to girls).  Even then, in that summer of calm before the storm, I knew that we would have to raise him to be strong in ways I did not fully comprehend.  Yet I did not understand just how strong he would need to be until after 9/11.  Ten years on, however, I understand that 9/11 did not alter the truth of this necessity.  It only underlined it for me and, I hope, for a generation of mothers like me.  And, yet, I wonder . . .

I understand the reluctance to remember and the wish to avoid unpleasant associations.  But my children--both of them--have grown up in a post 9/11 world that, in the main, is marked by nothing but fear or solemn silence as it recalls those events. 

We remember it when we line up like sheep to take off our shoes and have our persons probed at the airport.  I remember one awful incident when my son (then 3) was traveling with a cast on his broken arm.  He was whisked away from me to a separate room and swabbed for traces of explosives.  Try explaining that to a toddler. 

During most of the years of their schooling, 9/11 came and went without any formal acknowledgment or remark.  Earth Day, on the other hand, has taken up to a week of acknowledgment and instruction.  We don't fear teaching children to fear man's folly as it applies to pollution and the raping of the Earth's resources.  But we still cannot look outright evil in the face.  I expect that this year, being the 10th anniversary of the event, will mark some change.  It will be necessary to say something.  Yet I am betting that what gets said will be something like solemn regret for the so-called "tragedy" . . . as if this really were just another terrible plane crash.  This is the beginning of forgetting--this choosing not to remember or to pass on what our parents' parents (though probably with better personal reasons) must also have chosen to forget to pass on:  that every good thing we have is vulnerable when we do not understand how we got it or what it takes to keep it.

In the wake of 9/11 it appeared that a generation many had discounted was ready, quietly, to step up and do the job of securing liberty to themselves and their posterity.  As we pass the 10 year mark, it is time for that same generation to consider whether their inclination to labor in reflexive silence and, often, without self-reflection is the best they can do for posterity.   
Categories > History


9/11 Lessons

Two Claremonsters, Bill Voegeli and Tom West, reflect on the meaning of 9/11.  Our NLT colleague Bill recalls the evacuations he and his fellow New Yorkers stoically endured.  Tom West always fights for the wisdom of the founders: 

My first reaction to the attack was anger -- certainly against the terrorists, but also against our government. The FAA disarmed pilots in 1987. Passengers and crew were ordered to submit quietly to hijackers' demands. In the name of safety, government banned the very thing that could have prevented the murder of thousands: the Founders' agenda of self-help, self-defense, and gun rights.

Their brief observations can be found at the end of this link on NRO.

Categories > Politics


Public Nudity Pushes Boundaries

A city official introduces a measure to put limits on nudity and provide posterior protection for public seating. The proposal has ignited a debate on acceptable behavior in the notoriously open city.  San Francisco is going to legislate something they would prefer not legislating, but are compelled to for reasons of "basic public health."  Sorry, I couldn't resist bringing it to your attention!
Categories > Politics


Salvatore Licitra

A tragedy in Italy this week. Tenor Salvatore Licitra, seen by many as the successor to Pavarotti, has died in a terrible motorscooter accident. He was 43 years old. Licitra gained his big break in 2002 when he had to sub for Pavarotti in a performance of Puccini's Tosca, and absolutely wowed the crowd. The tenor and his voice represented much of the beauty of Italy. Here he is singing the classic O sole mio--a fitting song for the heir of Pavarotti--and here he is again performing Nessun Dorma in Moscow.
Categories > Leisure

Foreign Affairs

We're Still Cool

Americans are still cool people, according to the rest of the world, and that is problematic for China. A recent poll asked 30,000 people across fifteen countries to list the coolest nationalities. Americans topped the list, followed by Brazilians, Spaniards, and Italians. All the way at the bottom were Belgians, marginally better than Poles, Turks, and Canadians. Kudos to Canada, typically regarded as home of the uncool, for pushing ahead.

A more serious indicator of America's desirability--and the belief that people who say they are from here are just, well, cool and successful people--is coming from China. Though the Eastern dragon is continually touted for its growing economy and presence in the world, there is sweat upon the brows of the communist leaders. Those titans responsible for the booming Chinese economy all seem to have one long-term aspiration in mind: leaving China. Their top destination of choice? The United States.

China's wealthy certainly live far better lives than the vast majority of their compatriots. They realize, though, that the lives they live are not near the standards of living they could achieve in the West. While the country's economy is slowly liberating, the government clamps down even harder on any cries for freedom from their oppressive yoke. So while the affluent in China have money, they would like other things-- they would like to have more than one child, they want their children to go to better schools, they are jealous of American healthcare standards, they want to breathe air that isn't poisoning them, they want to be able to speak their mind without threat of retribution. Importantly, they want their property protected as well--China's innovators and businessmen know that, at the end of the day, the communist government will claim all of their assets. They want to be able to buy a home and own that home, and for their children to be able to own that same home, and their children after that.

We can say what we will about America today, but the rest of the world still looks at us with envy, and yearns to have what we have. China may be catching up to us economically, but so long as they continue to oppress their people, as rich as they are, they will still see us as the best example of pushing the bounds of human potential. Not too bad.
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Hazy Shade of Winter

Chance of an additional stimulus passing, "less than zero," says a GOP aide.
Categories > Politics


Fox's America Versus Muslims

A Brookings Institution panel interpreting its poll on American attitudes towards Muslims finds:  Fox News increases biases against the Religion of Peace, Americans oppose Sharia Law without knowing what it is, and so on.  In contrast, consider this intrepid late question (start at 1:44:30) from an audience member who seeks to stir things up, finding the proceedings appalling.  Bill Galston of Brookings responds thoughtfully, as he had earlier on the panel. 
Categories > Religion


A Glimmer in the Dulled Golden State

The California state song, never heard except for perhaps at the funerals of former governors, speaks much of the enchanting beauty of the great state. The chorus lovingly decribes, "Where the snow crowned Golden Sierras/Keep their watch o'er the valleys bloom,/It is there I would be in our land by the sea,/Every breeze bearing rich perfume./It is here nature gives of her rarest. It is Home Sweet Home to me,/And I know when I die I shall breathe my last sigh/For my sunny California." And for generations this was true for many people-- including many of the brightest, most creative, and most innovative people that this country was host to. Titans of aerospace and technology, farming and winemaking, art and literature, music and cinema, architecture and education-- all called the land of honey, fruit, and wine their home. From the wonders of the Mulholland Aqueduct bringing water down to dry Los Angeles to the Golden Gate Bridge gleaming proudly in the bay, from farms that supply this country with its fruit and wine to pastures that bring us milk and cheese, the diverse and ingenious leaders of the California economy were long the envy of the world. People flocked to the rich landscape, the plenty jobs, and the chance to become rich or famous. They viewed it as the incubator for their dreams and aspirations.

Now, though, things have changed, and the Golden State is looking more and more dull. For the first time in decades, California did not gain a new congressional district, and the number of people leaving the state for other states rather than moving to California actually increased this past decade. They are moving to Texas, Nevada, Arizona, and Colorado, seeking cheaper climates and less competition for jobs. My mother and stepfather are excellent examples of this; frustrated with California, unable to afford living expenses, and struggling to keep hold of decent-paying jobs, they migrated to Ohio a few years ago. Today they have no intention of ever going back to California, and usually deride the state and caution anyone with fancies of going there not to.

Oppressed by taxes and burdened by regulations, businesses in California are fleeing elsewhere-- last year, it ranked 50th among the states in creating new businesses. I had the opportunity to participate in a round table briefing with the CEO of Carls Jr./Hardees, Andrew Puzder, a few months ago. He was discussing this very problem, and said that Rick Perry had personally called him and asked him to move to Texas, waving incentives in front of him. The headquarters of the highly successful fast food chain are indeed moving, with its jobs and taxes and 300 new restaurants. Additionally, the restaurant chain is expanding---in Asia. "It is easier to build a restaurant in Shangai than it is in California," lamented the business leader.

As unemployment climbs higher and higher, and as business continues to flee at an alarming rate, the Golden State will spiral downward into a dustbowl-like abyss. Even Hollywood has to lobby for special dispensations to continue to do business in the state-- evidence that, as Puzder mentioned, businesses don't actively want to leave their homes. It isn't like a CEO comes in, cackles, rubs his hands together, and figures out how he's going to put his neighbors out of a job. They are being forced out by this burden. The main exception to this for now is Silicon Valley, but as Amazon's recent spat with California may evidence, the tech industry is not as permanently tethered to the Golden State as one might think. At the end of the day, they, too, are businessmen. And, as it stands right now, only the famous in Hollywood and the billionaires in the Bay Area are capable of affording the state-- the middle class seems firmly content to resettle to business-, job-, and home-friendly Texas, Arizona, and Colorado. Magazines, polls, websites, and common sense direct many college graduates to those states as well--there are jobs and affordable homes-a-plenty in Texas. Until California rids itself of this hostile climate, the gleam will not return to the Golden State.

However, a recent poll shows a glimmer of hope. The vast majority of Californians believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction and, normally not known for being spendthrifts, reject a stimulus approach and think that the government needs to tackle the deficit. The Californians agree that government needs to cut back a bit. But, of course, the parties disagree on the best way to get there-- Republicans want to cut, cut, and cut spending, while Democrats want to rollback some tax cuts, have targeted cuts in spending, and boost funding in education to get skilled workers. Nonetheless, the language is one of restraining government. Keynes is dying in California. While the poll also indicates that both sides want their representatives to entrench themselves and not compromise, this will be overcome at the ballot box next year. The opportunity is ripe to jumpstart a conversation in the state that is home to more than one in ten Americans; that is home to some of the most innovative, diverse, and industrious of us. For a century it has stood as the playground of so-called "progressive" politics; if the opportunity to play ball now is missed, it may be some time before it comes again-- and by that point it may be pointless playing.

It can glisten again one day. It will just take hard work and, as obstinate as the poll indicates people are, some compromise here and there. Measured tax increases on certain sectors, substantial spending cuts in various programs, deregulation of most business areas, and decentralizing certain things from Sacramento to the county and city governments would go a long way-- even enough to agree to boosts in some educational programs. It is a good opportunity to at least try pull the state a little bit away from the precipice-- it can be a good start. It's time to start talking about how California's best days could yet be ahead of it, if only these things were done. They could make that gold gleam again, perhaps even brighter than before.
Categories > Economy

Foreign Affairs

End the Euro

The Eurozone Crisis continues to threaten the entirety of the European community with fiscal disaster. While this is certainly an economic crisis as well as a political one, the philosophic ramifications of how the crisis is resolved will have a huge impact on the future of the European Union. The single currency project was and is the flagship of European integration, that which was marching the states of Europe "ever closer to union" over these past years, and is shaping up to become the European Union's greatest failure and liability.

Due to the importance of the Euro to the entire endeavor, the unionists are doing all they can to save it. This past year has seen supposed bailouts of Greece, Ireland, and Portugal-- but this is all clever deception. The bailouts were not for those countries; the bailouts were for the Euro. The resistant response of Ireland to the bailout, involving massive protests and the ouster of the ruling party, highlight that these nations did what they could to try avoid a financial takeover, as these nations are getting very bad deals-- European bankers are receiving the bailout money while the burden of repayment is being placed upon ordinary citizens. The bailouts are not helping these nations. Giving debtors high-interest loans is like helping a drug addict by pumping heroin into his swollen veins. The futures of these individual nations are being sold in order to save the existence of the Euro.

Some may say that the involvement of the International Monetary Fund is evidence that this is focused on the national economies, not the Euro-- after all, the IMF is an international institution, not a European one. Wrong. Dominique Strauss-Kahn was a Europhile who continued the process of turning the IMF into a puppet of the European Union. Under his leadership, the liabilities of the IMF are now 900% of what they were before he took over. Typically, when the IMF bails something out, they mandate a devaluation of the currency and enforce strict privatization and deregulation programs-- all forgone for the European bailouts. This policy will not be changing, as Strauss-Kahn's successor is another French proponent of integration--- Christine Lagarde has spent a large part of her recent career practicing EU Law at the European Law Centre. The IMF is an arm of the EU whose primary objective is to support the common currency project. (It is worth noting that the Europeans are demanding austerity measures for bailed-out and soon-to-be-bailed-out states, but they are resisting as they know, right now, they'll get the money anyways).

A single currency does not work. People point and say that the United States has a single currency, so Europe can pull it off too. They do not understand that the Euro is not like the Dollar. The American system allows for greater labor mobility of both individual and corporate members; has greater economic uniformity across its system; and allows easier fiscal transfers with the ability of the Federal government to move money around quickly. We also have more political will to move things around-- the British, who were touting the fact that they have saved over 6 billion pounds in domestic spending prior to obligations under the bailouts increased their expenditures by 12 billion pounds, are going to grow tired of helping maintain a currency they aren't attached to; and, as British MEP Roger Helms pointed out in a recent lecture, the "Germans, who retire at 66, aren't too keen to keep bailing out the Greeks, who retire at 50." Additionally, while the Dollar is doing far better than the Euro and will survive it, our growing regulations and Federal Reserve manipulations aren't exactly making us ideal to follow at the moment.

The European Union must end the Euro, and that may very well be on its way to happening. Soon, a German constitutional court is expected to rule on whether the bailouts violate German and European Union law (Note: IMF leader Christine Lagarde has admitted that the IMF bailouts were probably illegal, but worth saving the Euro for). While the court could rule the bailouts were illegal and thus place the Euro immediately on the path to a catastrophic crash, it is more likely they'll said with caution and begin to enforce tough restrictions on the ability of Germany to move money around. It should be the first step in Germany stepping away from the Eurozone and returning to the once-powerful Deutschmark, and allowing the other nations of Europe to regain their fiscal sovereignty. This will allow the European Union to take a step back and figure out what went wrong these past twenty years. Instead of progressing towards closer union, Europe should instead decentralize the process and remove the power of the European Central Bank from controlling so much. It can roll back the anti-democratic underpinnings of the project.

For those who say it is not anti-democratic, the European Parliament, which supposedly represents the people, had over 90% of its members vote for the Treaty of Lisbon; in referendums, 56% of the French people voted against it, 63% of the Dutch voted against it, and polls indicated that, if given the chance, a majority of Ireland would have voted against it. The leaders of the EU have time and time again proven that this is an elite-driven process with little popular support. It is time to step back, reevaluate, and allow the nations to regain control of their economies. The Euro has been a failed project, and its instability threatens the global economy. End the euro to save what little good is left in the European Union, and use it as an opportunity to improve.
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Aristocracy in America

Jimmy Hoffa fights to preserve the fiefdom that his father created. 

"We got to keep an eye on the battle that we face: The war on workers. And you see it everywhere, it is the Tea Party. And you know, there is only one way to beat and win that war. The one thing about working people is we like a good fight. And you know what? They've got a war, they got a war with us and there's only going to be one winner. It's going to be the workers of Michigan, and America. We're going to win that war," Jimmy Hoffa Jr. said to a heavily union crowd.

"President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let's take these son of bitches out and give America back to an America where we belong," Hoffa added.

Categories > Progressivism

Pop Culture

Change I Can't Believe In

Never content to leave anything untweaked or untouched, Star Wars creator George Lucas has apparently made even more changes to his space saga in the upcoming release of the series onto BluRay. He is renowned for making tweaks any time he does something, constantly seeking to improve upon what he has already created in order to justify it more to his artistic vision. Some of these changes are good ones--editing out some bloopers, enhancing lightsaber images, solving the Yoda-looks-weird problem in The Phantom Menace. Other changes are based more on content than quality, which is where he starts to lose people. While Lucas has notoriously made tweaks and changes that have riled up the fanbase (inserting Hayden Christensen's ghost in Return of the Jedi, having Greedo shoot at Han Solo first in A New Hope, cursing us with Jar Jar Binks), I've usually not really cared too much. One of these new changes, though, is quite disappointing.

In the climatic final battle between hero Luke Skywalker and the evil Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader has an epiphany and famously saves his son by picking his master up and throwing him down a seemingly-endless pit. It is a powerful scene, and tremendous that there is so much feeling in it when you can neither see Vader's true face nor listen to him say anything. It is a wordless sacrifice of the father for the son. Apparently, though, Mr. Lucas does not think that we are capable of understanding that Vader suddenly disagreed with the Emperor's electrifying his son. As a result, dialogue has been inserted to have the Dark Lord of the Sith yell, "Nooooo!", as he throws Palpatine down the pit. Silence is often far more powerful than words. An auteur like Lucas should have known that.

What is the worst of it? Rumors are circulating that Lucas has given Ewoks in Return of the Jedi the power to blink. That sounds terrifying, and is a line too far, Mr. Lucas. Sometimes, George, you just have to let go and let your creation wander free. If it's been successful this long, there is no need to dramatically alter such things. While some change is certainly for the better, a blinking ewok is change I can't believe in!
Categories > Pop Culture


How to Get the Economy to Grow

Some people are saying that we really don't know how to make the economy grow.  I'm sympathetic to the idea, but I also suspect that some, specific steps would help.  In particular, how about a regularory holiday?

Amity Shlaes suggest suspending the Wagner Act for two years.  What I didn't realize until reading her post is that a majority of Americans, including a majority of union members, support Right to Work legislation. (Update: here's more polling data on this subject). 

How about suspending many restrictions on drilling for oil off our coasts, and in Alaska?

Would dropping the minimum wage to $5.00 for people under 25 help lower unemployment? (And should it be 26, in honor of Obamacare?)

Suspending part of the Americans with Disabilities act, or simply restricting its application to people who suffer from serious physical disabilities, would probably help corporate America focus on business rather than lawsuit avoidance.

I bet there are many other regulations the absense of which would help the economy grow.  And I haven't even mentioned market friendly health reforms, like allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines.

From a certain perspective, many of our regulations are luxury items. Only a very rich nation can afford them. Thanks to globalization, that might be changing.

Update. Let's not forget the business impact of California's tendency to favor animals over people:

Now, largely at the behest of greens, California agriculture is being systematically cut down by regulation. In an attempt to protect a small fish called the Delta smelt, upward of 200,000 acres of prime farmland have been idled, according to the state's Department of Conservation. Even in the current "wet" cycle, California's agricultural industry, which exports roughly $14 billion annually, is slowly being decimated. Unemployment in some Central Valley towns tops 30 percent, and in cases even 40 percent.

Categories > Economy