4,196,949,605 of 7 billion people on earth.
I am the 78,636,613,080th person to have lived since history began.
The historic milestone cannot but bring to mind the global hysteria of the "population bomb," a liberal fallacy which led to the international community's willful complicity in global programs of sterilization, abortion and human-rights abuses. The UN Population Fund is a remnant of this shameful history and exists now as little more than an international lobby for the abortion industry which identifies the Catholic Church as a greater enemy to "reproductive rights" than China.
Of course, the lie of overpopulation was always a mere means to the end of liberal globalization: the liberal control of international organizations capable of stealing sovereignty from the nations (and thus people) of the world. Liberal globalization would achieve by stealth and trickery what the greatest imperialists and conquerors in history had failed to achieve by force. Their weapon was fear and their delivery mechanism was "undisputed science" which captured the world's population in a stupor of ignorance.
Of course, rational minds prevailed. The Catholic Church was foremost in the resistance to these immoral policies and authoritarian tactics. Conservatives likewise opposed the radicalism of population control. They were vindicated as being on the side of science and rationalism.
Of course, the media largely failed to notice any of this. Partially, they didn't wish to expose their own complicity. But more importantly, they were already chanting the next cadence of liberal globalization. Global cooling was next, followed by global warming and now climate change. The entire environmental movement, with its need to regulate all life on the planet at the international level, serves this goal. Internationalism - be it law, politics, diplomacy or economics - has long been dominated by the left. They have recognized since the "population bomb" days that the last battlefield is global in breadth and that internationalism is the strategic high ground.
Their climate and environmental alarms will likely herald nothing more frieghtening than the overpopulation scare - and the damage inflicted on the world will be relative to the successes of such policies. Right-minded people have and will continue to oppose their secret war of oppression, but today is, more than anything, a reminder of the radical left's grand strategy.
Peggy Noonan has been listening to Paul Ryan. And Paul Ryan has been talking about Barack Obama. Noonan (re)confirms that she likes what she hears from Ryan in this weekend's WSJ.
This week [Ryan] spoke on "The American Idea" at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. He scored the president as too small for the moment, as "petty" in his arguments and avoidant of the decisions entailed in leadership. At times like this, he said, "the temptation to exploit fear and envy returns." Politicians divide in order to "evade responsibility for their failures" and to advance their interests.
The president, he said, has made a shift in his appeal to the electorate. "Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment."
But Ryan also had harsh criticism of conservative sacred cows.
. . . Republicans, in their desire to defend free economic activity, shouldn't be snookered by unthinking fealty to big business. They should never defend--they should actively oppose--the kind of economic activity that has contributed so heavily to the crisis. Here Mr. Ryan slammed "corporate welfare and crony capitalism."
Ryan articulates an interesting blend of liberal anti-wealth and conservative anti-spending sentiments by addressing government spending as benefiting the rich (rather than, as liberals would have it, the poor). Ryan casts Democrats - historically the party of big government - as the party of big government and big business.
Rather than raise taxes on individuals, we should "lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive." The "true sources of inequity in this country," he continued, are "corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless." The real class warfare that threatens us is "a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society."
Noonan observes that the American zeitgeist exhibits fear of division and posits that we may be "living through the moment we'll look back on as the beginning of the Great Coming Apart." Yet where Obama has abandoned the hope of his former campaign and flung himself into the widening rift of social division, Ryan is an island of calm rationalism.
If more Republicans thought--and spoke--like this, the party would flourish. People would be less fearful for the future. And Mr. Obama wouldn't be seeing his numbers go up.
Literature, Poetry, and Books
In his latest motion picture, Anonymous, apocalyptic film director Roland Emmerich brings to the big screen a conspiracy theory so lunatic that it is widely dismissed by the vast majority of scholars and historians in the world. His tale of William Shakespeare being a sham, the great bard's works written by some nobleman instead, should be treated with just the same incredulity as some of Emmerich's other blockbusters, 2012, The Day After Tomorrow, and 10,000 B.C.
While the authorship of Shakespeare's plays was never questioned during his lifetime or in the centuries following, a small number of individuals have begun to question that he actually wrote his great works within the last hundred years. They insist that the son of an illiterate glove-maker from some bumpkin village is incapable of showing us the ambition of Julius Caesar, the love of Romeo and Juliet, the intrigue of Macbeth, and the tragedy of King Lear. How could someone from such a humble beginning know royalty well enough to bring to us Hamlet or Antony and Cleopatra?
Though the conspiracy theorists insist that someone like Shakespeare could not have written the plays, the answer as to who did is still up in the air, splitting the Shakespeare-deniers into various camps. The dozens of potential alternatives include Francis Bacon, Miguel de Cervantes, Walter Raleigh, Jesuit priests, King James I, Queen Elizabeth I, and Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford whose candidacy Anonymous supports. The reason that there are so many potential alternatives is because there is no actual evidence that Shakespeare did not write the plays himself, thus making it difficult to declare outright that someone else must have.
The Oxfordian theory is based on a 1920 publication by J.T. Looney, "Shakespeare' Identified," which tells an unproven tale of how the Earl of Oxford was not only Queen Elizabeth's son, but her lover as well. In this fantastical explanation of events, the Earl of Oxford had to give up credit for his plays and poems because a nobleman could not degrade himself to join the lowest possible level in society--that of actor and playwright.
Why indulge in this delusion when there is no evidence to support it? Is it really that much easier for people to believe in such a conspiracy than to accept the genius of a common man? Is it so hard to believe that human beings, regardless of circumstances, are able to rise up from nothing to greatness? Are not men able to understand things without necessarily having experienced them firsthand? There is something rotten about beating up on a man's legacy centuries after he has been taken by that fell sergeant, death, no longer capable of defending himself against such slanderous conspiracy. His words and genius will live on, but we owe the Bard respect for what he was able to accomplish. Let us be honest about the legacy of he who wrote these masterpieces.
Anonymous will surely be an entertaining and well-written film, with tremendous visual effects, intricate costumes, and decent acting. It may even have the great benefit of pushing people to revisit the works of Shakespeare, and get close once more to tragic Othello or knavish Puck. However, people should watch the movie with the same kind of incredulity as when they watched Emmerich's The Patriot--a film that tried to capture much of the detail and narrative of the time period, and laid forth some of the feelings and ideas of the American Revolution, but which was nonetheless a made-up story based in unserious history.
William Shakespeare was a genius, and held a greater command of our English language than anyone before and after him. He understood the human mind, heart, and soul, and knew not only how to make people laugh and cry, but how to get them to consider great and noble things. A Hollywood blockbuster will not be able to discredit this genius; it cannot take away what he gave us. But, in today's conspiracy-loving society, it can plant a poisonous seed of disbelief in certain minds. We must do what we can to protect the memory of Shakespeare and his legacy. Allow people to admire the fact that he, a simple peasant from an illiterate family, was able to rise to such genius and beauty. To rob people of the idea of such possibility does a disservice both to Shakespeare and humanity in general. Taking that away would be the most unkindest cut of all.
My law alma mater, The Catholic University of America is being sued again by John Banzhaf, the George Washington Law professor who recently sued CUA because it has single-sex dorms. This time, he is claiming that the proximity of the university to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the presence of crucifixes in classrooms is illegal because it does not accommodate Muslim religious practices. Both complaints, filed with the U.S. Office of Human Rights, claim CUA is responsible for human rights abuses.
Of course, not a single Muslim has complained. Banzhaf, who has become a star of the left through promiscuous law suits pushing a liberal social agenda, has polluted the federal docket with suit against smoking, tobacco, fast food, religion, etc. He's the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. And he does it for himself, not because anyone asks him to.
Here's a question to test Banzhaf's authenticity: Would he sue a private Islamic university for not providing Catholics with a Christian chapel or Muslim-free zone in which to pray? Yeah, I don't think so either. It requires a particular breed of hatred and bigotry to spawn such ridiculous hypocrisy and outright discrimination from otherwise sane and intelligent individuals.
I pass over the actual legal frivolity of the suit without comment, as I trust the judgment of RoNLT sufficiently that I would not impugn your common sense with an explanation. As a personal note, however, when I entered CUA Law, incoming classes were divided into 30-person sections which stayed together through the first year. Just from memory, I recall that my section included at least a dozen Catholics, half a dozen Protestants, two Jews, one Muslim, several non-religious types and one precocious atheist. Not a bad record of religious diversity from an unapologetically Catholic school, and none of those students were so petty or arrogant as to assume the school would stop being Catholic simply because non-Catholics roamed the halls.
Previously, it was relatively easy to explain: Greece is bankrupt and we don't know what to do about it. But then we bailed Greece out and it's still not over. Now it's something along the lines of: Greece is bankrupt, but then French and German banks own Greek debt, so they might be bankrupt too. Then Italy has lots of its own debt, which Germany would like it to pay off, just in case that markets start worrying that Italy is bankrupt too.
And that's before we even get into the the proposed solution (mostly it seems to be that Germany should throw money at everything, which the Germans understandably aren't too keen on). How big does the bailout fund need to be? Who pays for it? Who do we (well, the Germans) bail out: the Greeks, or the banks? Should the European Central Bank be allowed to buy government bonds? No one is sure of any of this. Not even the people whose job it is to understand it.
Milton Wolf writes:
Class, for lack of a better comparison, is like bladder control: You either have it or you don't. When it comes to forcing Obamacare upon America with dishonest gimmicks, the Democrats have no class.
Of course, Dr. Wolf - who happens to have the distinction of being President Obama's cousin [At last, a legal relative!] - is speaking with a double tongue, implicating the Democrat's CLASS Act, "a major entitlement program tucked quietly within the 2,700 pages of Obamacare." This portion of Obamacare has been found "totally unsustainable" (in the words of HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius).
Doubtless, the media finds this surprising. Or unexpected. Or somehow the fault of partisan opponents to Obamacare. Nevertheless, Obamacare is beginning to crumble.
Wolf predicts that "Obamacare will not survive."
Even if this ill-conceived law does somehow miraculously withstand the potent legal and political challenges, it cannot survive the unforgiving laws of economics. So when the president forces an unconstitutional law on the nation against the clear will of the majority of Americans and it is proving itself to be wholly unsustainable, there's really only one conclusion you can reach about Obamacare: "No viable path forward."
Literature, Poetry, and Books
H.W. Crocker III is the author of "The Politically Incorrect Guide to the British Empire." Brett Decker reviews in today's WaPo:
The zeal of Anglophiles tends to be overdone - like food in Old Blighty - because it needs to compensate for an anti-historical political correctness that has infected academia, twisting an objectively positive institution - the British Empire - into something bad. Harry Crocker's new book ... sets the record straight about the small island that governed a quarter of the planet and had a civilizing influence on the rest of it.
Decker's review hints at the gems within Crocker's book - which is surely worth a read. But the two gentlemen also seem to grasp the fortunate legacy of the British Empire:
Late in life, Winston Churchill sighed, "I have worked very hard all my life, and I have achieved a great deal - in the end to achieve nothing." The former prime minister was lamenting the demise of the empire he hoped would continue to be the guarantor of peace and a force for good in the world. Yet, as Mr. Crocker puts it, "When Britain could no longer maintain the Pax Britannica, it became the Pax Americana." Despite the sun having mostly set on the British Empire, the old limeys' high-minded values of limited government and individual rights endure through its former colony, America, which took up the important burden as Western Civilization's chief proselytizer. Chin-chin to that.
Public approval for Congress dips into the single digits. I'm not surprised for the reason often given--people (especially in gerrymandered districts) like their own crook--and distrust all the others. Hence, a better measure of how people will vote would be reflected in, e.g., whether they think Obamacare should be repealed.
But I also raise the question whether the members of Congress would give any higher rating of their own institution. Somehow I doubt it. The separation of powers and the bicameral Congress create such frustrations. But there is only one President.
The latest Progressive nonsense:
In an unprecedented lawsuit, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is accusing the SeaWorld marine parks of keeping five of its star-performer killer whales in conditions that violate the 13th Amendment ban on slavery.
PETA says the suit, to be filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Diego, is the first federal court case seeking constitutional rights for members of an animal species.
Perry just hit the WSJ op-ed page with an all-things-to-all-conservatives economic plan. "Cut, Balance and Grow," promises "to scrap the current tax code, lower and simplify tax rates, cut spending and balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, and grow jobs and economic opportunity."
Well that should be easy enough.
Perry is pointing high into center field (or, in this particular simile, right field). Here are a few details:
Perry is, of course, vying for the right-pole position, with it's spectacular view of the Tea Party Express. He needs energy and is diving to the right (although all of his suggestions are entirely sensible - and perhaps entirely necessary). Whether they are at all plausible absent a miracle in the Senate is another matter altogether - and a question Perry should be asked by the press. In the inevitable failure to pass so ambitious a package, where would he focus?
For the actual liberal media response, read the NY Times' Q&A with Perry. It reveals the liberal obsession with "tax cuts for the rich," or "income inequality." Watch for the media to make their class-warfare obsession the principal talking point against the GOP candidate.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;For he to-day that sheds his blood with meShall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,This day shall gentle his condition:And gentlemen in England now a-bedShall think themselves accursed they were not here,And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaksThat fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
Last night, the House came together in a rare moment of bi-partisanship and patriotic unity by firmly and unequivocally telling the European Union what they can do with the new environmental laws they've decided to pass on the United States. Apparently, the EU forgot that they don't actually have the authority to regulate non-EU countries which have decided to retain their full sovereignty.
The EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) has said that, starting next year, it will charge U.S. aircraft for carbon emissions whenever they land or take off in Europe.
The House responded decisively.
The lower chamber approved H.R. 2594 by unanimous consent after a brief debate in which most Republicans and Democrats said they reject the ETS as an extra-territorial plan to fine American aircraft that was imposed without any input from the U.S.
Of course, a few Democrats [surprise: Massachusetts and California Democrats] couldn't help but oppose U.S. sovereignty and economic interests in support of hysterical environmentalism and ever-expanding internationalism. But that's to be expected from the far left. The EU "tax grab" is estimated to cost 78,500 American jobs if implemented - a small price for the accomplishment of foisting EU-style climate-change legislation on the U.S.
Then again, many in the bi-partisan majority were likely scrambling to save 78,000 jobs rather than standing on principle in their vote. Multi-national regulations aren't a simple matter to unravel - they depend on government-ratified treaties and indecipherable bilateral agreements. But the EU seems to have neglected that multi-national regulations require multiple nations. Eurocrats have become a bit drunk on their heady draught of super-national supremacy in the EU. One hopes the U.S. continues to have the fortitude to check their untoward advanced.
If this is a case of European over-reach, as I expect, the U.S. should fight fire with fire. If the Europeans turn out to be within their authority, leadership will be required to revisit the license granted to foreign nations in our treaty agreements.
George Clooney's latest film depicts for us the cold, cruel, and calculating side of campaign politics. In it, Ryan Gosling is an idealistic young man working for an idealized presidential candidate, and the young idealist gets buried in a scandal that makes him forevermore see the world through jaded eyes, indulging in the cynicism that plagues so many in the public sphere. The title of the film draws the mind towards the tale of Julius Caesar. He, too, was a great politician capable of doing great things for his people. Yet Caesar was also corrupt, and the corruption of this great man led an idealistic young man who loved him to betray him--Brutus. The tale of Caesar is one of a republic's dying breaths, drowned for decades in a sea of decadence, corruption, and cynicism.
Compare, then, The Ides of March with Frank Capra's timeless classic, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. In the film, Jimmy Stewart plays an idealistic young man who is thrust into the midst of a scandal in the United States Senate, and overcome with grief upon learning that his idealized senior colleague, whom he saw as a mentor and friend, was actually a corrupt pawn. Mr. Smith presents to us a Senate filled with greed, deception, and vanity, with one man standing alone against a seemingly insurmountable political machine.
While both Clooney's and Capra's films depict a political system rife with corruption, there is a hugely important difference between the two. Clooney's dark and pessimistic tale brings no closure to it, and no hope; one leaves the theater with a bitter sense of disappointment and cynical contempt for our political process. It is a tragedy where everyone loses, much like the tale of Julius Caesar that the title alludes to.
Mr. Smith, though, has a far different, more lasting, and more important tone. It depicts one decent and determined common man, surrounded by petty bunch of political thugs, who nonetheless makes a difference. This is not to say that its title character, Jefferson Smith, is alone in his feelings--the people support him, and there are even members of the Senate who likely support him as well, but are yet complicit with the villains through their silence. Smith still wins in the end, though.
Perhaps this is too idealistic. Perhaps the cynical transformation of Gosling's Stephen Myers is closer to the real thing than the determined support for lost causes exhibited by Stewart's Smith. If that is the case, though, then the fault is not with our system of government, but with us. We are the government.
Many Americans over the past few years seem to see our country through the same jaded vision of The Ides of March, and are tired of it. Perhaps, then, now is the perfect time to revisit the 1939 classic, which came out just in time for Nazis, Soviets, and Fascists to all ban it for its dangerous idea. When Hitler banned American movies in France, one Parisian theater played Mr. Smith nonstop for the month leading up to the ban. Tyrants are threatened by the idea that individuals have power; mortified by the possibility that one single person has the power to change the world. The reason they fear this is because it is true: good men, armed by the truth and common decency, can do more to change the world than all the armies and propaganda of tyranny and corruption in the world combined. It just takes hard determination in face of the harshest adversity.
Though our nation appears full of the broken hope in politics given to us in The Ides of March, we still have the ability to ensure that we remain a nation of the people, by the people, and for the people. It is within our grasp if only we have a rebirth of understanding our good old American principles, a support for our constitutional institutions, and a renewed emphasis on the importance of the individual. Then, if we are lucky, perhaps we can also find a Mr. Smith or two to send to Washington in order to remind them of these things too. "Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!"
Prague is a beautiful city in which I spend a bit of time. Particularly since the 14th century reign of Charles IV, Prague claims inclusion among the most beautiful cities in the world. However, the distorted communist regime which seized control in the 20th century polluted the city with "communist architecture." Czechs refer to the identical rows of square, multi-story communist-era apartment buildings as "rabbit cages."
Michael Mehaffy and Nikos Salingaros take up the theme of architectural design in their Guernica / On the Commons article, "The Architect Has No Clothes." The authors explain "architectural myopia" as the condition which produces "contemporary eyesores."
Laboratory results show conclusively that architects literally see the world differently from non-architects. Not only do architects notice and look for different aspects of the environment than other people; their brains seem to synthesize an understanding of the world that has notable differences from natural reality. Instead of a contextual world of harmonious geometric relationships and connectedness, architects tend to see a world of objects set apart from their contexts, with distinctive, attention-getting qualities.
There are many such confirming studies. For example, Gifford et al. (2002) surveyed other research and noted that "architects did not merely disagree with laypersons about the aesthetic qualities of buildings, they were unable to predict how laypersons would assess buildings, even when they were explicitly asked to do so."
Unsurprisingly, the authors heavily blame this myopia on the lengthy education of architects.
Up to about 1900, architects were understood to be practicing an adaptive craft, in which a building was an inseparable part of a dynamic streetscape and a neighborhood.
With the coming of the industrial revolution, and its emphasis on interchangeable parts, the traditional conception of architecture that was adaptive to context began to change. A building became an interchangeable industrial design product, conveying an image, and it mattered a great deal how attention-getting that image was.
It is telling that "the early modernists saw their work as a revolution." A "Novelty Spectacle" approach is now the "dominant model for architecture." And as with all crafts founded upon a skewered, modernist view of human nature, modern architecture fails to satisfy human needs on mental, emotional, spiritual and biological levels.
I previously noted, in an article titled "Beauty and the Bibles of Stone," an address by Pope Benedict XVI on the purpose and effect of beauty in religious architecture - specifically, the medieval cathedrals. Comparing these architectural masterpieces and they effect they have on the human soul, one cannot but grieve for the impoverishment of the modern craft.
This was the noblest Roman of them all;All the conspirators save only heDid that they did in envy of great Caesar;He, only, in a general honest thoughtAnd common good to all, made one of them.His life was gentle, and the elementsSo mixed in him that Nature might stand upAnd say to all the world, "This was a man!"
Noting that "progressives have long lamented the fact that the Framers designed a Constitution replete with impediments to federal government activism," the eminent George Will reveals the latest twist of logic by which Colorado liberals are attempting to use the Constitution as an impediment to popular referendums (which would otherwise limit the power of the ruling classes in state legislatures).
Sextion IV, Article IV of the U.S. Constitution reads: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."
The folks in Colorado argue (tellingly, before an unelected judiciary) that a Colorado initiative limiting the legislature's license to raise taxes (the progressive's golden calf) denies the state a republican form of government. That is, only elected bureaucrats can craft laws - not the people themselves. While direct democracy has many flaws (and was hence rejected by the Framers as an insecure means of safeguarding liberty), its outright prohibition is a novel reading of the Guarantee Clause. Without delving into the history of the clause, I deeply suspect this reading is flawed.
Politically, however, liberals continue to reveal the surprising degree to which they are willing to oppose the people and popular government in favor of a ruling class. On an elementary level, the left - with all of its liberal ideologies of radical freedom, individuality and nonconformity - is incredibly devoted to the system, bureaucratic institutions and ever-expanding government.
Last Tuesday at Philadelphia's Ben Franklin Hall (a more suitable venue is difficult to imagine), British barristers sparred with American lawyers over the legality of the American colonists' Declaration of Independence.
The American's invoked natural law and the consent of the people. "The English had used their own Declaration of Rights to depose James II and these acts were deemed completely lawful and justified." Indeed, self-determination is now reflected in the fundamental rights of the UN Charter.
The British case recalled the historic lawlessness and fecklessness of the secession. "There is no legal principle then or now to allow a group of citizens to establish their own laws because they want to. What if Texas decided today it wanted to secede from the Union?" Denigrating "no taxation without representation" as little more than a wish to avoid paying their due share for the protection of the empire during the French and Indian War, the barristers listed the grievances in the Declaration as "too trivial to justify secession."
I believe it was Gordon Wood, clarifying Jefferson's supposed sufferance of "a long train of abuses and usurpations," who observed that never in the course of human history had men revolted over such slight actual harms. The empty and retreating declaration by the British Parliament that they had the power to rule over the colonies "in all cases whatsoever" was the sort of injury to which the Americans mainly revolted. Abuses of principle. Usurpations of ideas.
Of course, it is the jealous love of these principles and ideas which enabled to new nation to survive and prosper (contrary to the flawed recipe of the French Revolution, for example). Yet these grievances are not the sort for which the U.S. or NATO would now intervene on behalf of a restless people in a foreign land.
The British even slyly invoked the authority of Lincoln as they diminished the authority of "the laws of nature" and, by extension, of "nature's God."
Lincoln made the case against secession and he was right. The Declaration of Independence itself, in the absence of any recognised legal basis, had to appeal to "natural law", an undefined concept, and to "self-evident truths", that is to say truths for which no evidence could be provided.
It is noteworthy that the British attempt to reduce the American argument to a religious dogma. While the spirit of the revolution was democratic and the mode was legalistic, the foundation rested upon a sense of Providence. Interestingly, the British do not seem compelled to address this third leg of the revolution.
There are many compelling and legitimate arguments by which to address the question at hand - and most are well worth serious contemplation.
Regarded as one of the great populist campaigns of American history, Truman's 1948 whistle-stop tours showed millions of Americans a common man battling for the rights of other common men. But Truman, like FDR (especially in his 1944 SOTU address--see 6th paragraph from the end) was willing to denounce Republicans in the most strident terms, far meaner than what we see today (other than in lefty blogs), at least so far. Here's a sample, from his October 25, Chicago speech:
We must not imagine, just because we love freedom, that freedom is safe--that our freedom is safe. Eternal vigilance is still the price of liberty.
Other people have also loved freedom, but have lost their liberty with tragic suddenness.
It happened in Italy 25 years ago. It happened in Germany 15 years ago. It happened in Czechoslovakia just a few months ago. And it could happen here.
I know that it is hard for Americans to admit this danger. American democracy has very deep roots. But, if the antidemocratic forces in this country continue to work unchecked, this Nation could awaken a few years from now to find that the Bill of Rights had become a scrap of paper.
My friends, that must never happen! Look back over history, and you will find that wherever ruthless men have destroyed liberty and human rights, certain economic and social forces had paved the way for them.
What are these forces that threaten our way of life? Who are the men behind them? They are the men who want to see inflation continue unchecked. They are the men who are striving to concentrate great economic power in their own hands. They are the men who are setting up and stirring up racial and religious prejudice against some of our fellow Americans.
I propose to state in simple, unmistakable language, just exactly how each of these three groups of men--working through the Republican Party, if you please--is a serious threat to the future welfare of this great Nation.
And it gets better, with references to the big businessmen behind Hitler and the other fascists and charges of racial and religious prejudice. Watch out, whoever gets the Republican nomination for a Truman-style campaign.
For my American Civil War midterm, the extra credit was a set of Charlie Sheen quotations. Students could match up to ten of them to appropriate Civil War leaders in particular circumstances. They then had to provide a brief explanation for each match. So, for example, a good answer for #10 would be: "Grant after the fall of Forts Henry and Donalson." Similarly, a good answer for #5 could be "Forrest while raiding in central Tennessee."
How the New York Times's new Edatrix operates:
She planned to apply in the newsroom some of the "positive training" that she lavished on Scout. She and her husband, she writes in her book, used "encouragement, not punishment" to train Scout, rewarding her for good behavior with a piece of kibble. "In one's relationship with dogs and with a newsroom, a generous amount of praise and encouragement goes much better than criticism," she says.
A note to my post below. President William Howard Taft was a Unitarian, who disclosed that he "did not believe in the divinity of Christ." He was a moderate Progressive (versus the committed TR and Woodrow Wilson) and not a bad Chief Justice. William Jennings Bryan, the Democrat nominee in 1908, did object. It seems likely that the Christian fervor of TR's 1912 campaign ("Onward, Christian Soldiers" was a campaign song) was directed against Taft's faith.
Besides other Unitarian presidents (the Adamses), Vice President John C. Calhoun was also of this church. Again, the real measure of loyalty to basic American principles is understanding of and adherence to the Declaration of Independence.
From Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause, vol. II of the Oxford History of the United States: Facing a "cruel test," Washington was sustained through the Revolution by
at least two profound convictions. The first was that he was the instrument of Providence in the struggle.... The other belief approached passion--a love of what Washington called the "glorious cause," the defense of the liberties of Americans. (p. 296)
Of course not everyone who claims divine inspiration may be discerning or even truthful, but convictions about God's will have been honorable motives for public service from our origins as a nation. Should such a self-examination be less essential today? Or must sociological circumstances or mere personal self-aggrandizement determine our political leadership?
The objective test of course is whether a candidate's views comport with those of the Declaration of Independence. Private revelations are quite subordinate to that overriding consideration. Might candidates who court the Tea Party actually use the wisdom of our founding period in contemporary debates?
In 1984 George Orwell's O'Brien declared, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face--forever." That's the way I felt when I heard the participants in the Anita Hill lovefest, "Sex, Power, and Speaking Truth." His narrow confirmation to the Court allowed him to revive American constitutionalism. We must ever keep in mind this victory in our cultural wars.
Meanwhile, further south in Manhattan, the OWS mobs continue to flourish. Comparing them to the Tea Party misses the heart of these true descendants of the American Founding: They stand for the restraints, protections, and procedures of constitutional government.
Liberalism has been unable to decide whether it is for or against more democracy for nearly a century now, ever since it underwent a radical transformation from a creed believing that advancing the cause of individual liberty meant limiting government power and protecting individual rights into the creed we know today of believing that larger and more powerful government is the primary means of securing the realization of individual liberty. None of the liberal complaints about "gridlock" are new; Progressives like Woodrow Wilson deplored the separation of powers and other limiting features of the Founding as obsolete years before he tried to ignore them as president.
Odd, how life works. I was in a happy state that Harry Jaffa would celebrate his 93rd birthday on the 7th, and on that day I heard that Harold W. Rood died the day before. He was my second teacher in Claremont; not as old as Jaffa, about my mother's age. He taught international relations, national security affairs, and had been at CMC since about 1962. I'll let someone else tell the historical details--how dozens of "political philosophy" students ended up studying with this untheoretical man, of his many virtues, of this man's good life--I just wanted to say something about his one great virtue.
This entirely American man--loving and kind and sweet--was a great teacher. He was a great teacher unlike Jaffa. Rood didn't test the logos in the same way, he didn't simply grab the truth as it revealed itself in front of him. Rather, he talked and the story came out about how men wanted to live rather than die, and what they may then do, and why that is always so. He was able to portray things outside of our experience in such a way that we could see the shining stars above to be the same as the shining campfires in the soldiers' tents below. Rood was a great poet. He was able to talk about anger or love in such a way that showed us what it was like to be in anger and to be in love. He did the same with his love of country. He seduced us this way into thinking, and we loved it and we loved him for it. No one will ever forget the experience of being with him in a classroom. May he Rest in Peace.
Update: Over at Power Line, Steve Hayward, another Rood student, writes a fine post on the good professor.
From the proclamation of one of the groups leading the protests in downtown New York City:
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people . . .
One of the reasons why the French Revolution went off the rails is that many different groups claimed to represent the true nation. Perhaps it's endemic to the Left (and in this sense it's not inproper to use the term, which goes back to locations in the French Assembly, if memory serves. What's called the "right" in America is, for the most part, rather different than the defenders of the Old Regime (even if many on the Left are willfully blind to that reality)), but the people protesting in New York hardly represent our nation or "one people," other than themselves, and, perhaps, a certain small percentage of other Americans.
Unlike France, ours is a political nation. The nature of American nationhood has always been in contention. Our political system is designed with that reality in mind. Even so, we have always had a certain number of people who don't like that reality, and wish the U.S. to be more like a European nation. That has long been the Progressive dream. I'm betting it still is not what most Americans want.
Quote of the Day
Robert Bryce in the Wall Street Journal:
Over the past decade, carbon-dioxide emissions in the U.S. fell by 1.7%. And according to the International Energy Agency, the U.S. is now cutting carbon emissions faster than Europe, even though the European Union has instituted an elaborate carbon-trading/pricing scheme. Why? The U.S. is producing vast quantities of cheap natural gas from shale, which is displacing higher-carbon coal.
Meanwhile, China's emissions jumped by 123% over the past decade and now exceed those of the U.S. by more than two billion tons per year. Africa's carbon-dioxide emissions jumped by 30%, Asia's by 44%, and the Middle East's by a whopping 57%. Put another way, over the past decade, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions--about 6.1 billion tons per year--could have gone to zero and yet global emissions still would have gone up.
A few years ago, I heard a Cal Tech climate science guru give a talk. He arranged it so that no questions were allowed, which was disappointing. He said that according to the prevailing science, which he said he supports completely, we have a handful of years to change course, or the earth will be alterted forever. His proposed solutions were to cut emissions radically.
Had questions been allowed, I would have said something like, I study politics, not science. As a student of politics, I can almost guarantee that the kinds of hair shirt cuts he demands will never happen, almost certainly not in any major country, and certainly not in all of them. If that's the case, the challenge for science is, to paraphrase Publius, how to manage the effects of human actions, rather than impose the kind of tyranny that it would take to tackle the causes. Still a relevant observation, it seems to me.
(I would also add, that we need also to be sure we know what we're doing. Sciences are at their most speculative in their infancy. Such is the study of the enviornment. That being the case, my guess is that scientists are guessing, more than they like to admit, about the consequences of human actions on the environment across the globe.
P.S. Why do Progressives think it is reasonable to think we can control mankind's global carbon footprint, but also think that it is impossible for most individuals to control their sex drives?
I a review of Justice Stevens's new book, I stumbled over this bit:
Justice Stevens never offered broad theories of constitutional decision-making. Instead he styled himself as a minimalist, wary of (as he put it years ago) "the danger that the glittering generality will turn out to be an overstatement that fails to anticipate the contemporary garb in which a basic theme will appear in future cases."
Criticism of "glittering generalities" was centeral to the critique of the Declaration in antebellum America. Although he seems not to have been the first to use the phrase Rufus Choate is generally credited with popularizing the term, and associating it with opposition to natural right.
I talked to Jaffa the other day. He will be 93 years old on October 7th. He called me and we had a good talk, at the end of which he said with broken voice: "Marjorie died exactly a year ago today and I can't get over it. I guess I'm not supposed to after 68 years of marriage." I couldn't say much to such pathos. The Old Man has said that July 14, 1941, was an important day in his life for two reasons. First he "reported for salaried employment for the first time in my life." The second reason is this: "But on that morning at breakfast in the boarding house in which I had become an inmate the night before, I found myself looking into the eyes of the most beautiful and wonderful girl I had ever seen. I made a date for that evening and never looked back." He got the job in Washington because he passed the Civil Service Exam in Public Administration. He passed that exam because he took public administration classes which he loathed and found infinitely boring. He only stayed with the courses at the recommendation of his professor, Frank Coker. Jaffa writes: "This advice turned out not only to be good advice, but the foundation of every good thing that has happened to me in all the years that have followed. I remain grateful to Coker, but even more alert to the mystery of the ways of Providence, which often proceeds by the most inauspicious indirection to accomplish its ends." Allow me to quote part of Sonnet 104, for both of them:
"To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still."
Below is a photograph of Harry and Marjorie in 1942.
If you needed a perfect analogy to the fatal fiscal fantasies enrapturing Europe, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has provided it. He recently echoed Barack Obama in a speech before a German audience.
Is there any hope? Will we ultimately succeed? My answer is yes, we can!
Papandreou was speaking of the feasibility of Greek reforms on the heels of a German vote to expand the already massive bail-out fund for Greece. Clemins Wergin, writing in The Telegraph, asserts that "the question for Germany is still unanswered."
Are Germans right to continue, grudgingly, to help their southern European cousins out of the mess that their bad habits have got them into? Or are we simply pouring good money after bad?
Ring familiar? Perhaps Merkel could call her latest bail-out a stimulus bill, and chant a refrain of "Pass the bill." After all, she's already adopted Obama's stimulus tactics.
First, threaten doomsday if your latest spending bill isn't passed - even if there is no evidence whatsoever that this spending spree will prove any more effective than the last (several) spending sprees.
Germans realise that they are throwing their money at a mess that nobody seems able to control, and their anger at having to bail out the wrongdoers is checked only by doom-laden warnings about the consequences of the eurozone's failure. "If the euro falls, Europe falls," is one of Angela Merkel's oft-repeated slogans.
Second, demonize opposition - even if that opposition arises from the very people you are supposed to represent:
And the reaction of Germany's political and media elites nurtures this notion of a conspiracy. Anyone who opposes the bail-out is labelled as anti-European. And although polls show that an overwhelming majority of people oppose giving more money to insolvent countries, no political force is taking up that case.
Spending addictions apparently exists equally among "social democracy" advocates both here and abroad. One might have hoped that Europe would learn from the mistakes of America, or vice versa. But continuing riots among radicals in opposition to necessary reform, as well as stubborn disregard for objective economic realities and popular opinion among politicians, clearly indicate that reconsideration of failed policies are not in the cards.
At least America has a Tea Party movement and the hope of economic restraint. Are there any indications that Europe has even the beginnings of such a bulwark to pending fiscal disaster? One wonders how far Europe and America must fall before the people finally say, "No, you can't!"
The Nobel prizes for peace, literature and, increasingly, economics, have unfortunately been severely degraded over the years. This diminishment is a result of awards to such luminaries as Yasser Arafat, Mairead Corrigan, Jimmy Carter, Paul Krugman, Al Gore, Dario Fo, multiple awards to the utterly useless United Nations and, most recently, Barack Obama (as well as notable snubs to the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Pope John Paul II, to name but two).
However, prizes in the hard sciences - while not without their scandals - have largely avoided the disgrace heaped on their soft science counterparts. Today, the award for physics was announced:
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences says American Saul Perlmutter, U.S.-Australian citizen Brian Schmidt and U.S. scientist Adam Riess share the 2011 Nobel Prize in physics.
The trio were honored Tuesday "for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae."
The more expansive Nobel press release is here. Beautiful work by these (American) scientists. Fascinating research area. Dark matter. The expanding universe. The end of the world, no less. Fascinating.
The latest from the radicals in the Obama Justice Department:
To the surprise and consternation of religious groups across the political spectrum, the Department of Justice is now arguing, for the first time, that the widely recognized "ministerial exception" to employment-discrimination laws shouldn't exist at all.
The implication. Under current law,
Catholics and Orthodox Jews can have an all-male clergy. Jews, Muslims and Hindus can base leadership decisions on ethnicity and descent. And where marital-status discrimination is prohibited, churches can "discriminate" based on celibacy.
Absent the ministerial exemption, all that might be hard to protect. The liberty of practicing one's religion would be weakened. If the Obama administration holds true to form, they might offer waivers, aka dispensation to some groups, so long as they play ball with the powers that be in other ways.
(Note: I wrote this post quickly before heading off to a religious service. I have since edited it for clarity).
Quote of the Day
It's not often that physicists get asked to address non-technical topics. But the reason we don't falls squarely on our shoulders because so often we forget the real reason we're here on this earth. That was made crystal clear to me a few years ago when our oldest son was in high school. He asked me for the definition of a human being, but he wanted it in engineering terms.
The definition I gave him was: A human being is a completely self-contained totally enclosed power plant, available in a variety of sizes and colors, and reproducible in quantity. Humans are relatively long-lived, have major components in duplicate, and science is rapidly making progress towards solving the spare parts problem. Humans are waterproof, amphibious, operate on a wide variety of fuels, enjoy thermostatically-controlled temperatures, circulating fluid heat, evaporative cooling, have sealed and lubricated barriers, auto and optional directional range finders, sound and sight recording, audio and visual communications, and are equipped with the sophisticated control center called 'The Brain.'
And when I was through with that description, it became significant to me for what has been omitted. What goes beyond the mere fact of this robot's existence and turns it into a human being? What makes it different from such mechanical marvels as the Viking Lander, the Pathfinder Lander, or the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers on Mars? Ladies and gentlemen, the meaning of being human is the most significant of all subjects. Science will never be able to reduce the value of human commitment to a formula. It will never be able to reduce the value of respect one for another, love one for another, support one for another, to arithmetic. The challenge of accomplishment in living, the depth of insight, the inter-beauty and truth-- these things shall always surpass the scientific mastery of Nature.
Or, as I tell my colleagues, you can have all the technical knowledge in the world at your fingertips, but if you aren't a caring human being, you're the most dangerous creature on Earth, and the most unfulfilled.