"A world made by tides and tendencies, and not by wisdom and virtue, is a world [Churchill] repudiates. He does not really say that it does not exist; on the contrary, he finds that this is the kind of world which, in ever increasing measure, we find ourselves inhabiting. But he does not accept it; he will not accept it. Churchill looks at this aspect of the modern world much as Coriolanus looked at Rome. Rather than submit to it, or acknowledge its power, he will banish it."
Glenda Armand, a former MAHG student, has just come out with Love Twelve Miles Long, a gorgeously illustrated children's book about Frederick Douglass. (Glenda wrote the text, Colin Bootman illustrated.) We see young Frederick Bailey's mother explain to him how she manages to walk 12 miles to see him at night, after their separation. She fills her son with love and hope. Glenda explains her love of slave narratives at her website--it's family history, for one thing:
As a recent college grad, Glenda visited her grandparents in Louisiana. While at their home, Glenda came across a Bible that had been printed in 1869. It had belonged to her great-great grandfather, Victor Jones, Sr., who was born a slave. In one moment, one of the most tragic aspects of American history ceased being a chapter in a history book and became real, tangible, and personal. Victor Jones, Sr. died a free man in 1928. Later the Bible was given to Glenda and remains her most treasured possession.
After many years of teaching in the primary grades, Glenda decided to teach eighth grade. In preparing to teach US history, Glenda read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. In those pages, Glenda met Harriet Bailey, the mother of Frederick Douglass. As the mother of two, Glenda related to Harriet's heartbreaking dilemma and could not get it out of her mind. Glenda felt Harriet's guiding hand as she wrote Love Twelve Miles Long.
A commenter at Power Line writes astutely on the myth of a Wall Street bailout, noting that Wall Street banks were not the target of TARP and illustrating the vast differences between TARP and, say, the auto bailout. By way of introduction, John Hinderaker writes:
I used to think that revisionist history could be written only after lots of people who know better have died. Over the years, however, I have realized that this isn't true. It is common to see history rewritten before our eyes. Still, even in that context, the myth of the Wall Street bailout is remarkable.
Men and Women
Gentlemen of the jury: A man's dog stands by him in prosperity and in poverty, in health and in sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow and the snow drives fiercely, if only he may be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer, he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounters with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince...If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against enemies, and when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death.
That appears to be George Washington's prayer in his Thanksgiving Proclamation "for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge...." That "rational manner" was led by the Federalist Papers.
We remember C.S. Lewis, who died 48 years ago today, November 22, 1963. Not to be confused with a children's story writer of the same name.
Today's quotes of the day are from Paul Krugman, and provided to us by James Taranto. From Krugman's Economics:
"There's obviously a relationship between tax rates and revenue. That relationship is not, however, one-for-one. In general, doubling the excise tax rate on a good or service won't double the amount of revenue collected, because the tax increase will reduce the quantity of the good or service transacted. And the relationship between the level of the tax and the amount of revenue collected may not even be positive: in some cases raising the tax rate actually reduces the amount of revenue the government collects."
Contrast that with a recent Krugman column:
In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue. . . . But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy.
More evidence, as if any were necessary, that Krugman does not regard his column as an intellectually serious endeavor. His job as a columnist is to dish our red meat to the Lefty horde/ use his well deserves credentials in economics to suport his prefered policy presceiptions with whatever means he can find at hand.
Czech news noticed a faux-pas in CNN's coverage of Occupy Wall Street. Reporting that OWS has "spread across the world as a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth," CNN includes a photo of the "Old Town" square in Prague. Yet the Prague protest, while political in nature, had nothing to do with OWS. CNN wrongly assumes that every political protest supports OWS, just as OWS wrongly assumes that 99% of Americans support OWS.
Since the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare, it might be worth looking back at Lawrence Tribe's claim that there is a "clear case for the law's constitutionality." Moreover, he takes a smart rhetorical strategy, flatterig the Court's conservatives for being above politics. Hence, he claims:
There is every reason to believe that a strong, nonpartisan majority of justices will do their constitutional duty, set aside how they might have voted had they been members of Congress and treat this constitutional challenge for what it is -- a political objection in legal garb.
But what can Professor Tribe mean that the case is "clear"? To answer that question, we should turn to his other writings, particularly his Constitutional Choices, in which he writes:
Whenever I suggest in these essays, for want of space or of humility, that one or another decision seems to me "plainly right" or "plainly wrong," or that some proposal or position is "clearly" consistent (or inconsistent) with the constitution, I hope my words will be understood as shorthand not for a conclusion I offer as indisputably "correct" but solely for a conviction I put forward as powerfully held.
According to the good Professor, therefore, to assert that any constitutional case is clear, is to pound the table.
In fairness to Tribe, his claim may only be that the heath law is consistent with a chain of precedents that go back to the New Deal. After all, Tribe believes in a "living constitution." But, as we have noted before it might be time for Tribe to stop clinging to his horse and buggy constitution, and join the 21st century.
Literature, Poetry, and Books
The Washington, DC Folger Theater presented a noble rendering of Shakespeare's Othello (through December 4). This tragedy deals with race, religion, tolerance, and the costs of living in a diverse society and serves as a companion to The Merchant of Venice. Stagings of both often suffer from our contemporary views of these issues, which undermine Shakespeare's tragedy and quasi-comedy. (For a contrast, see Dennis Teti's astounding study of the Merchant, which uncovers Cathollic themes.) The Folger's rendition does not condescend and brilliantly emphasizes the depravity of Iago in the last few seconds of the play--I won't spoil it for now by revealing the technique.
Men and Women
My recent Daily Caller article on Occupy Wall Street generally avoided the issue of criminality. I hoped to focus on aspects central to the movement's purpose and perception, and felt that the obvious criminal elements were a distraction from the more fundamental elements which defined the movement (at least in the media).
Since that time, however, OWS has been increasingly defined by its criminal elements. It has made no progress whatsoever in the direction of organizing and formulating a coherent message or policy. Rather than maturing into a political faction or evolving into a broad social movement, OWS has degenerated into lawlessness, filth and depravity. John Moser's post below provides a good summary and John Nolte has compiled an OWS Rap Sheet compiling hundreds of specific crimes.
Even New York City has finally had its fill with the protesters and ousted them from HQ: Zuccotti Park in order to sanitize the site. Over 70 arrests were necessary to clear the park. OWS is no longer a "movement," it is a mob. The association of Democrats (including Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama) with such riff-raff should cause them a deep sense of shame.
My name is Tim McDonald, I'm a native of the Isle,I was born among old Erin's bogs and left when but a child.My granddad fought in '98 for Liberty so dear;He fought and fell on Vinegar Hill as an Irish Volunteer.Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere--We'll fight and fall beneath its folds like Irish Volunteers!When I was driven from my home by an oppressor's hand,I cut my sticks and greased my brogues and come o'er to this land.I found a home and many friends, and some that I love dear,Be jeebus I'll stick to them like bricks, an Irish volunteer.Then fill your glasses up, my boys, and drink a hearty cheer,To the land of our adoption and the Irish volunteer.Now when the traitors in the South commenced a warlike raid,I quickly then threw down my hod, to the Devil went my spade!To our recruiting office then I went, that happened to be near,And joined the good old Sixty-ninth like an Irish volunteer.Then fill the ranks and march away, no traitors do we fear;We'll drive them all to blazes, says the Irish volunteer!When the Prince of Wales came over here and made a hubbaboo,Oh, everyone turned out, you know, in gold and tinsel too;But the good old Sixty-ninth, they didn't like these lords or peers;They wouldn't give a damn for kings, the Irish volunteers!We love the land of Liberty, its laws we do hold dear,But the Devil take nobility, says the Irish volunteer!Now if the traitors in the South should ever cross our roads,We'll drive them to the Devil as Saint Patrick did the toads.We'll give them all short nooses that come just below the ears,Made good and strong from Irish hemp by Irish volunteers.And here's to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres!He'll lead us on to victory, the Irish volunteers.Now fill your glasses up, my boys, a toast come drink with me:May Erin's Harp and the Starry Flag united ever be;May traitors quake, and rebels shake, and tremble in their fears,When next they meet the Yankee boys and the Irish volunteers!God bless the name of Washington! that name this land reveres;Success to Meagher, Nugent, and their Irish Volunteers!
Refine & Enlarge
Peter Schramm has diligently brought to the attention of RONLT the series of political treatises known as "Letters from an Ohio Farmer." These missives have now been consolidated in book form under the title, "A Constitutional Conversation: Letters from an Ohio Farmer," which is available for download on Kindle.
The farmer describes the book as follows:
We are not the oldest country in the world, but our written Constitution has endured longer than that of any other people. That fact is worth not only celebrating, but pondering.
This is especially important for members of Congress. As these letters have had occasion to observe, Congress is at the very heart of our experiment in constitutional self-government. In the Constitution, Congress comes first: it is Article I. Congress holds the law-making power without which the president has much less to do and the federal courts nothing at all.
In fact, of all the branches, Congress has the primary authority to interpret the Constitution. Like the president or the Supreme Court, Congress receives its power from the Constitution. Just as the president has no authority to act against the Constitution, you in Congress have no authority to pass legislation that violates it. So - as the 112th Congress has distinguished itself by recognizing - every time you consider a bill, the first question you must ask yourself is not: "Do my constituents like it?" or even "Is it a good idea?" but "Is this Constitutional?" That's not a matter of partisan politics; it's a matter of legitimate authority.
That constitutional deliberation must continue in Congress if we are going to restore the American experiment in self-government. For it is in Congress where the American people most fully govern themselves: where the common rights and responsibilities of the American people are submitted to law, and where the variety of the legitimate interests of the American people are most fully represented. When people's representatives engage in constitutional deliberation, the American people engage in it too.
The book's preface, penned on Constitution Day 2011, is worth quoting in full:
The American people have started a historic conversation - about the foundations, purposes, and scope of our government. In a spontaneous movement they rose to challenge long-established orthodoxies, and a sustained exertion of their sovereign power is changing the direction in which the country is heading. The movement began with no headquarters, no recognized leader, and no agreed upon platform. Thousands of independent groups of private citizens gathered in thousands of public squares across the land. Through all the diverse ideas expressed in these gatherings, one theme shone clearly: the federal government has, over the last several decades, stepped further and further outside the bounds of the Constitution.
How did our government get to this point? What would constitutional government look like? What paths are available to the people and their representatives for returning to constitutional self-government? These and related questions were taken up in a series of weekly letters sent to the 112th Congress over the past year, and collected here, as a humble contribution to this American conversation - a constitutional conversation in the broadest sense. The letters continue and can be read weekly at: www.ohiofarmer.org.
The Ohio Farmer is not one person, but a group of citizens seeking to preserve constitutional self-government in America. The Farmer's letters are written in the tradition of the Federalists and Antifederalists in the American founding who wrote newspaper articles debating the new form of government proposed in the Constitution of 1787. They wrote using pen names such as Publius, or Federal Farmer, or American Citizen, to allow their arguments to speak for themselves and be judged on their own merits. The letters from the Ohio Farmer are offered in the same spirit.
The Ohio Farmer is a project of the Ashbrook Center. The various authors who compose each letter from the Ohio Farmer are partisans in one sense: they are partisans of the constitutional self-government they regard as America's greatest gift to the world. The Ohio Farmer is not primarily concerned with immediate policy questions, though he necessarily discusses them; he hopes to refine and enlarge the public's view of the larger political principles implicit in our policy debates. He is a friend to all who love this country and wish it well; he is searching for that common ground that can unite all reasonable parties who wish to maintain America's glorious tradition of constitutional self-government.
The Letters are necessary reading for political philosophers and citizen patriots alike. They possess the element of timelessness which sets apart historic works of political writing - simultaneously capturing the contemporary zeitgeist while evoking fundamental principles of political philosophy.
The Department of Agriculture is instituting a $.15 tax on Christmas trees--which are actually called that and not some PC holiday shrub or greenery.
In the Federal Register of November 8, 2011, Acting Administrator of Agricultural Marketing David R. Shipman announced that the Secretary of Agriculture will appoint a Christmas Tree Promotion Board....And the program of "information" is to include efforts to "enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States" (7 CFR 1214.10).
To pay for the new Federal Christmas tree image improvement and marketing program, the Department of Agriculture imposed a 15-cent fee on all sales of fresh Christmas trees by sellers of more than 500 trees per year (7 CFR 1214.52).
May a government board promote Christmas? Are we on our way to a state religion? Or does the taxing of Christmas trees foretell the taxing of churches? For a look at the founders' view of such matters (here noting the civil piety of Thanksgiving), see this additional commentary by Jefferson and this one by Washington.
UPDATE: Rush reports that the board's fee (not a tax) has been withdrawn. The fee is gathered from sellers so the board can come up with ways to help sellers market their product.
As the super committe negotiating how to move closer to a balanced budget moves along, it might be time to get creative in suggesting solutions. To that end, I have a thought. If the Democrats are dug in, demanding tax hikes, the GOP could accept some tax hikes (provided they are of the sort least likely to hurt the economy--not all taxes are alike after all). In return, the Democrats would agree to the repeal of a host of regulations, and fire many of the people who currently are employed by the government to create and enforce regulations. That last step would, of course, produce additional savings.
Pick up, the first 100 men you meet, and make a Republick. Every Man will have an equal Vote. But when deliberations and discussions are opened it will be found that 25, by their Talents, Virtues being equal, will be able to carry 50 Votes. Every one of these 25, is an Aristocrat, in my Sense of the Word.
And, Adams noted elsewhere, in the absence of formal institutions to hedge and check the few against the many, the few will steamroll over the many. Adams, of course, defined a "talent" as something that gives a man an edge, whether it be looks, a famous name, intelligence, connections, ruthlessness, or something else. The doings in Zuccotti Park confirm Adams' insight:
In the minutes of the teach-in on Saturday the 22nd, the leaders recognize that usurping power from the NYC-GA might make people uncomfortable. The Structure WG's eventual proposal was to keep the General Assembly alive and functioning while the Spokes Council "gets on its feet." . . .
When my turn came to speak, I brought up the plans of "the leaders of the allegedly leaderless movement" to commandeer the half-million dollars sent to the General Assembly for their new, exclusive, undemocratic, representational organization. Before I could finish, the facilitators and other members of the OWS inner circle started shouting over me. Amidst the confusion, the human mic stopped projecting what I, or anybody was saying. Because silence was what they were after, the leaders won.
Eventually one of the facilitators regained control of the crowd and explained that I was speaking "opinions, not facts," which is why I would not be allowed to continue. He also asserted untruthfully that I had gone over my allotted minute. Notably, the facilitators and members of the OWS inner circle regularly ignore time restrictions.
If Obama is to win re-election one year from today, he'll need to prove a "historic" candidate in less esoteric and more statistically significant ways than propelled him to victory for his first term. He'll have to defy the historic trends for presidential elections as they presently stand. As the Washington Times notes:
At 43 percent approval in a Gallup poll conducted Oct. 28-30, Mr. Obama recently referred to himself as an "underdog" -- with good reason. Of all the presidents since World War II whose job-approval scores were lower than 50 percent one year before Election Day, only one went on to win a second term.
That was President Nixon, whose job approval stood at 49 percent in November 1971. He rebounded to defeat Democrat George McGovern in a landslide in 1972.
Obama's approval rating is much lower than Nixon's and, hopefully, the GOP candidate will prove more formidable than McGovern.
Unemployment is another statistical guide.
No president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has won a second term when the unemployment rate was higher than 7.2 percent. Reagan won in 1984 with a jobless rate at 7.2 percent.
Obama, of course, is no Reagan and present unemployment hovers at 9%.
So, Obama has his work cut out for him. But he does have a few advantages going for him.
He is still a formidable fundraiser, having amassed more than $150 million for his campaign and the Democratic National Committee this year.
Also, his re-election operation is more robust than any of the GOP camps, which are waging a long and costly primary battle. Mr. Obama's campaign is able to build on a 50-state network from 2008, an email list of more than 9 million potential supporters and an experienced staff with unequaled savvy in digital marketing and social networking.
In early polling of head-to-head matchups with potential GOP candidates, Mr. Obama comes out on top in nearly every instance. One poll in the battleground state of Florida this week showed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tied with Mr. Obama.
And the Times contemplates the possibility of a third party candidate siphoning votes from the Republican nominee - but I don't foresee such a option in the tea leaves.
As I've noted previously, Obama is not being blamed by the American people for the state of the country. The buck, it seems, has not stopped with the president. It must be a priority for the GOP candidate to lay blame were it belongs and tie the economy as an albatross around the president's neck. Where the media has deflected blame from Obama, the GOP must nail it to his campaign bus. A Republican cannot win if Obama is not recognized as the culprit responsible for America's woes and deserving of its righteous anger.
The WSJ replaced its weekend interview with an article by Neal Freeman (a 38-year board member at National Review) which imagines a series of interviews between the late William F. Buckley and the conservative movement. It celebrates the 60th anniversary of "God and Man at Yale."
The personal anecdotes of Buckley's life and reflections on the conservative movement's "scrawny" ranks at Yale in those early days (not that those ranks have been greatly increased in academic settings since Buckley's days) make the article an amusing read. And Freeman's assessment of Buckley's would-be judgement on the GOP field, as well as conservative scholars and writers, is noteworthy.
Freeman blinks at the last moment and refuses to throw Buckley's weight behind a single candidate. But we are reminded of the ever-relevant Buckley Rule: Conservatives should support for election the rightward-most viable candidate. 2012 is no exception to the rule.
If James Madison came back, he'd be peeved that he was the primary author of the Constitution and we honor his memory by not caring when his birthday is. When he stopped whining about that, and noticed that the system he designed has turned into a congealed ball of lard that eats money and excretes red tape, he'd probably be more humble about his contribution.
I'm fairly certain Ben Franklin wouldn't be impressed by our pace of innovation. He invented the post office and showed us electricity, and it still took us 200 years to come up with email. We're not good at connecting the dots.
Daily Caller has posted an article of mine tackling the truths and fictions of Occupy Wall Street coverage.
"Occupy Wall Street" has captured global attention and become the darling of the world press. CNN hosts a "Meet the 99%" webpage advertising the movement on cnn.com. MSNBC's praise of OWS has approached religious awe. Yet for all the attention, many assertions about the movement are flatly inaccurate.
I address fictional media accounts which report OWS as having a "global span" and "global importance," being a "historic movement" (in the image of the Tea Party, Arab Spring and civil rights movement) and having achieved "effectiveness." An example:
Global Span: Claims that OWS has spread to countries around the world - that is, Europe - fail to recall that circuses of this sort have been common in Europe for years. The OWS brand of demonstrator belongs to a quasi-professional cadre of anti-everything crusaders who follow protests like a Grateful Dead tour. Euro-protesters launch copy-cat OWS rallies because that's what they do - they follow protests, not issues. Euro-protests have now reached America, not vice versa.
Several factual accounts are also considered, such as the group promotion of "direct democracy," and projection of "diversity" and "independence." Of course, all of these qualities prove to be liabilities when explored rationally. An example:
Direct Democracy: Commentators report that OWS presents an alternative to established republican government and reacquaints Americans with a strain of direct democracy. This is true, but confuses virtue and vice. OWS looks like direct democracy because it is disorganized, leaderless, inefficient, susceptible to demagoguery, overly influenced by passions and incapable of articulating a coherent philosophy or forming a consistent governing policy. These are precisely the reasons the Founding Fathers prudently rejected direct democracy in favor of representative government.
As always, I hope you'll RTWT.
A foreigner made the off-handed comment today that Obama would win another term. As this person does not religiously follow American politics but is a rather perceptive sort, I asked how she could speak so confidently. She replied that everything that could go wrong in America had gone wrong, yet Obama was still popular enough to win. What else could go wrong in America to significantly hurt him?
I reluctantly concede the foundation, while yet refusing to accept the conclusion. As I've posited many times before, the Democrats' greatest weapon and advantage in American politics is not their ideas, policies or message. It is an allied media. Had Fox News not come into existence, Republicans would score 10% lower in every poll against Democrats. But Fox is but one voice among many. Without the media's absolute support of the liberal line, the Democrats would be a different party - and I wonder to imagine a world with a comparable right-wing media dominance and sense of license.
Nevertheless, the world is as it is - which means Republicans must strive to control the message throughout the campaign. The Republican most able to implement this strategy has a significant "plus" as a candidate, and should be viewed as such in the primaries. The ability to control the media directly equates to electability. It is obvious that Obama is able to avoid the blame he deserves for objective faults - it is the Republicans' role to act as a substitute media for the American people.