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).