Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Men and Women

Beauty is a Witch

John Hinderaker at Powerline calls this blog, "There is no excuse whatsoever for this post".  I respectfully disagree.  I fell in love with her at age 13.  Great pictures of Marilyn at 25, never before published.  Focus on her mouth, her smile.  Thank you John.
Categories > Men and Women

Quote of the Day

Quotation du Jour

George Washington on party unity:

It is too interesting not to be again repeated, that if principles, instead of men, are not the steady pursuit of the Federalists, their cause will soon be at an end. If these are pursued, they will not divide at the next Election of a President; If they do divide on so important a point, it would be dangerous to trust them on any other; and none except those who might be solicitous to fill the Chair of Government would do it.

A fitty homily for the primary season.

Categories > Quote of the Day

Foreign Affairs

Elections in Egypt

Front page in today's New York Times

"The party formed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's mainstream Islamist group, appeared to have taken about 40 percent of the vote, as expected. But a big surprise was the strong showing of ultraconservative Islamists, called Salafis, many of whom see most popular entertainment as sinful and reject women's participation in voting or public life."

"Analysts in the state-run news media said early returns indicated that Salafi groups could take as much as a quarter of the vote, giving the two groups of Islamists combined control of nearly 65 percent of the parliamentary seats."

"The preliminary results extend the rising influence of Islamists across a region where they were once outlawed and oppressed by autocrats aligned with the West. Islamists have formed governments in Tunisia and Morocco. They are positioned for a major role in post-Qaddafi Libya as well. But it is the victory in Egypt -- the largest and once the most influential Arab state, an American ally considered a linchpin of regional stability -- that has the potential to upend the established order across the Middle East."  What was it we fought for, an elective despotism?
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Refine & Enlarge

One People

Just in case you haven't seen the Farmer's latest, One People.
Categories > Refine & Enlarge

Political Philosophy

Churchill and Coriolanus

While reading this essay by Jaffa on whether or not there could be another Churchill, a good thing to do on the statesman's birthday, I came across a line that reminded me of something:

"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."

Shakespeare's Coriolanus is set to hit the big screen for the first time this coming January. Here is the trailer. Directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes, it maintains a cast of actors well-known for their abilities-- Brian Cox as Menenius, Gerard Butler as Aufidius, and Vanessa Redgrave as the paragon of Roman mothers, Volumnia. This is notable for the primary reason that few people have read this first volume of Shakespeare's Roman trilogy, and even fewer have ever seen it performed. In the study of statesmanship, understanding Coriolanus and his relationship with the common man and his country is a useful thing to do, and may help us to understand Churchill's great virtues even more.

Foreign Affairs

Bill Rood Would Have Smiled

Amateurs (Georgetown students) and an old Pentagon hand beat the professionals at scoping out Chinese nuclear strategy. Professor Bill Rood, the late teacher of international relations, would have approved of this use of his quaint methodology of reading the newspapers and other open sources and speculating on how the evidence fit Chinese interests.  Of note as well, toward the end, is the outrage among the leftist disarmament lobby. 
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

The Chinese Nobility

As hundreds of millions of Chinese toil under the feudalistic conditions of Communist China, an elite few live in the type of wealth that is rare even in the West. This Chinese class of "Princelings" preach the humble poverty of Mao to their brethren while maintaining a monopoly on power and high-end luxury cars. The heirs of China's revolutionary leaders find themselves with unparalleled wealth, and as the wheels of power begin to turn and a new generation steps up, it appears that the Mao's communist creation is set to be politically and commercially controlled by a group of elite families--who already hold a great deal of economic power and sway with the military.

However, as the Internet breaks down the bonds of ignorance and reveals the secrets of their masters, the Chinese people may start to grow disillusioned with the Party. Chinese leaders may continue to try to censor the Internet, but it is a dam with too many cracks in it to bring them solace forever. With economic conditions in Chinese localities deteriorating, and the Chinese people growing more aware of the types of lives the elite live, the Princelings may be in for a rocky rule. There is some cause for hope, though. Most of the Princelings coming to power now have sent all their children to Western schools, mostly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Perhaps there may be some true nobility grown among this group, and they can oversee some liberalization in China. We can pray.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Israeli Strike in Iran?

Looks like the Israelis are doing the West's work, according to this report from Oz, for at least the second time. 
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Mark Twain

Today is Twain's birthday and Google has done a clever thing.  It is also Churchill's birthday.  They both smoked cigars, by the way.  I always hesitate to say much about Twain, have the same problem with Shakespeare.  They are too big, too important, too capacious. The human condition demands a Shakespeare.  The new human condition, the American condition, demands a Twain.  Everyone in the world has always loved Tom and Huck and Jim and the big river and the possibilities.  Regardless of the problem, laughter was everywhere, and this is now known to be the American way.  (Lincoln of course was--essentially--a professional comic.)  Even Nietzsche recognized some of this virtue.  He wrote this after he read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: "The American way of laughing does me good, especially this sort of sturdy seaman like Marc Twain. I have been unable to laugh anymore at anything German." Tom Sawyer appeared in 1876, as did Untimely Meditations.  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1885, the same year as the final version of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.  

Twain (1890):  "We are called a nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear the loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty."
Categories > History

Foreign Affairs

This Isn't Good

On the heels of commanders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard--which, it is necessary to note, is controlled by the Ayatollah and not Ahmadinejad--saying that they will bomb NATO sites in Turkey should there be any move by another nation against Iran's nuclear facilities (a threat that they issued after a huge explosion damaged a missile site and killed their ballistic missile program's architect), the embattled Assad regime in Syria is turning its Russian-built SCUD missiles in Turkey's direction. Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty is still enough to terrify any non-suicidal entity not to attack a NATO member, right? As Iranian mobs assault the British embassy in Tehran, and as Assad continues his bloody crackdown despite the Arab League itself sanctioning him, one has to wonder if self-interest as we understand it is the guiding principle of these leaders or not.
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Lech Walesa and the OWS

It was about six weeks ago that the press was abuzz with news that legendary labor activist Lech Walesa, the man who, more than anyone else, was responsible for bringing down communism in Poland, was planning a visit to the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  The left-wing blogosphere erupted in paroxysms of joy; Brent Budowsky at The Hill summed it up best: "One of history's great leaders for jobs, workers and freedom is now supporting the Occupy Wall Street protest. Lech Walesa has now weighed in, big time, for the good guys."

I forgot all about this until just yesterday, when I learned that Walesa never did make that visit--a fact apparently overlooked by the mainstream press, although it was big news in the conservative blogosphere.  Walesa expressed his views more openly in mid-November in an editorial critical of the OWS movement in the San Francisco Chronicle:

I have lived under the heavy hand of communism, where the state controls virtually everything, and I've lived under freedom. While today's protesters have many legitimate concerns, let me assure them that instead of either cronyism or greater government control, it is dialogue and solidarity leading to freedom that we should all strive for.

In related news, Walesa last week unveiled a statue of Ronald Reagan in Warsaw.
Categories > Politics


Frederick Douglass's Inspiration

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.

Categories > Race

Foreign Affairs

Technocrats Fail to Fix Eurozone

In the wake of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's resignation, economist and former European Commissioner Mario Monti ascended to power. Monti's rise to lead Italy is remarkable in the fact that he has never won an election. As Berlusconi's rule came to a close, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano appointed Monti to parliament as a Senator-for-Life then asked him to lead the new Berlusconi-free government. Monti promised as premier a government of experts, a true technocracy tasked with solving the economic crisis threatening to sink Italy and tear down the rest of the Eurozone with it. So this unelected leader and his cabinet of other unelected officials were heralded by the powers-that-be in Europe as the saving grace for the Euro currency. It seems that technocracy needs to be made of sterner stuff, however, as the Italian economy continues to plummet and the Eurozone contagion is now starting to show drags upon the all-powerful German economy. Somewhere, probably in the midst of one of his depraved bunga bunga parties, Silvio Berlusconi--a man elected and reelected and, despite multiple opportunities, never voted out of office--is smirking at his technocratic replacements. Democracy was the last thing Italy had to sacrifice, and it appears to be failing miserably.

President Obama met with the leading bureaucrats of the European Union--European President Council Herman van Rompuy and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso (yes, Europe has two presidents)--at the White House, but the meeting did not provide anything of substance. Obama highlighted our vested interest in the success of Europe, and the EU leaders insisted that the problem will be resolved and brought up America's $15 trillion debt and the need to focus on that as well. Others do not share the optimism of Messrs. Van Rompuy and Barroso. The United Kingdom's Foreign Office is preparing for the collapse of the Eurozone and drawing up contingency plans to help Britons around the European Union in the event of riots consuming the European continent in the midst of a complete banking collapse. As American banks own a huge portion of European debt, there is certainly cause for concern among us as well. The economic forecast does not look good at all. It may be time for the American government and American banks to start taking measures to best protect us from the contagion contaminating Europe in order to try soften the blow when it comes.
Categories > Foreign Affairs


The Myth of the Wall Street Bailout

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.

Categories > Economy