David Brooks tries to make the case against Gingrich and winds up moderating him in many ways. Moreover, he raises salient issues in the contest between him and Romney: Gingrich probably does see a continuity between himself, TR, and Hamilton. But is there a constitutionalist in the house? If not, is a right-wing Progressive better than a competent manager? Which would bring us back to founding principles?
TR rejected natural rights in favor of a new, collective nationalism, while Hamilton was clear in basing the emerging new republic on natural rights. I haven't seen this concern in Gingrich but rather more a kind of Newt nationalism. How that bears on the Declaration and the Constitution is the issue conservatives face.
E.J. Dionne plays his role exquisitely, showing the link between TR and Obama, though he gets FDR wrong in the process: FDR had laid out his revolutionary strategy in his 1932 campaign, in his speech on Progressive Liberalism.
Literature, Poetry, and Books
I just discovered what a sapphic is. From Timothy Steel:
SAPPHICS AGAINST ANGER
Angered, may I be near a glass of water;
The Czech and Slovak Republics offer an interesting perspective on the European monetary union. Slovakia adopted the euro in 2009, whereas Czech's plans to exchange the Ceska Koruna (Czech Crown) for the euro has been delayed indefinitely. The amicably divorced partners of the former Czechoslovakia thus allow for an interesting comparison.
Slovakia's decision to join the continental currency was deeply lamented when the poorer Slovakia was forced to pay into the Greek bailout fund - a payment for which Czech was not obliged. The Czech prime minister noted: "We can all see how the monetary union is turning into a transfer union or even a debt union."
But this incident simply added insult to injury. The fiscal limitations of a transnational currency have adversely affected Slovakia's economy, whereas the relative flexibility of the crown has allowed Czech to adapt with greater ease and efficiency. This is a condition writ large across Europe. While ostensibly favoring inclusion in the EU, former Warsaw nations regard adoption of the euro as a suicide pact. Writing primarily of Poland's avoidance of the economic pains in Europe, Gordon Fairclough notes in today's WSJ:
Across Central and Eastern Europe, the story is much the same. Governments from Hungary to Bulgaria that once clamored to join the euro club are putting plans on hold and reassessing the costs and benefits of something that used to seem inevitable. The spread of the euro was seen as part of Europe's manifest destiny, and the countries that emerged from behind the Iron Curtain saw the adoption of the currency as a potent sign of success, both political and economic.
The change of heart is an ominous portent for the decades-long process of increasing European economic integration. The common currency is the centerpiece and the leading symbol of that integration. If enthusiasm wanes for the euro, boosters fear, this could spell trouble for other efforts to knit the nations of the Continent together.
Moreover, economies like Poland's and the Czech Republic's are the kind that euro-zone leaders want to bring into their currency union--competitive, with low debt and strong growth prospects.
Czechs believe that a second reason for the diminished economic crisis in central Europe is cultural. Unlike Italians, Greeks and the like, they (and their governments) did not spend lavishly, incur unsustainable debt and expect that rainy days would never arrive. They regard the euro fund as terminally undisciplined and cherish their national economic autonomy.
I have long argued that the New Europe will soon shift the center of gravity away from western powers. But whether this New Europe will remain a union is being decided now by those western powers. Continued fiscal imprudence threatens not only Europe's economic integrity, but its political cohesion.
The Democratic Party chief's Osawatomie speech continues to reverberate, but the commentariat still doesn't quite get how radical it is. Daniel Henninger correctly labels it Obama's "Godfather speech"--"what you'd expect to hear in Caracas or Buenos Aires." But even this doesn't bring out how it builds on Theodore Roosevelt's revolutionary "New Nationalism" speech, delivered 101 years ago, celebrating both the Civil War and the terrorist John Brown. That radicalism is well-summarized in this introductory essay. Obama's speech multiplies the possibilities, including TR's proposal for a "Federal Bureau of Corporations." Try also Sidney Milkis's remarkable study that emphasizes the 1912 campaign.
UPDATE: NRO's commentary has some telling comparisons and contrasts between BHO and TR.
Herewith my annual plea that Roberta Wohlstetter's 1962 classic study, Pearl Harbor, be read by anyone interested in strategy, intelligence, and the post-9/11 world. (Here's a link to the googlebooks version.) As in 9/11, as Wohlstetter shows, U.S. leaders and military knew something was up, but the different "signals" were misinterpreted or not shared with other parts of the government. And unanticipated Japanese technological progress (combined with boldness) made possible a stunning attack. Try to track down her study of the Cuban missile crisis as well.
As I write this, I recall that the book was first called to my attention by the late Claremont professor Bill Rood. It would be fitting if this and Roberta Wohlstetter's other work were recalled at the 2012 APSA at the Claremont Institute panels.
Today is the remembrance of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Like all such days of remembrance, it is a thanksgiving to those who sacrificed on our behalf and a caution that the worst of man's history may not yet be behind us. December 7, 1941 changed the course of human history. Other dates of infamy have done likewise - September 11, 2001 immediately comes to mind.
I was a bit disappointed, though not surprised, that U.S. media coverage in Asia nearly ignored the date and the highest ranking "news" article for Pearl Harbor on google included "truther"-style articles asking, "Who was really to blame?" It's a connection between FRD and Bush which I hadn't previously noted - and won't spend much time entertaining. Rather, I believe FDR's words in the wake of the event (compare to Bush's speech after 9-11) provide the most relevant testimony of the event:
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in Oahu, the Japanese ambassador to the United States and his colleagues delivered to the Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. While this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time, the Japanese government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday, the Japanese government also launched an attack against Malaya.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked Guam.
Last night, Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands.
Last night, the Japanese attacked Wake Island.
This morning, the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has, therefore, undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As commander in chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense.
Always will we remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.
I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, Dec. 7, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese empire.
Abstract art is easy to denigrate and abuse. But sometimes one must wonder if the folks who report on the laughable craft truly appreciate its many ironies. Today, CNN "reports on an unusual Canadian artist whose vivid abstracts are making a big splash." The artist, of course, is a painting monkey. He's a hit in the art world and is presently opening his first exhibition in Toronto. (You can't make this stuff up.)
Earlier in the year, a study was celebrated by the artistic community as confirming the objective worth of abstraction. Participants in the study were shown works of abstract art by celebrated artists and works by ... monkeys.
The non-art majors preferred the artists 56% of the time, whereas the art majors preferred them 62% of the time. When it came to judging what was art (i.e., "better"), the non-art majors picked the artists a whopping 65.5% of the time, only slightly topped (67.5%) by the art majors. "In the aesthetic domain," the researchers concluded, "people can recognize that a work is good, but still not like it." In other words, people might dislike abstract art, but they can still tell when it belongs in a museum versus a kindergarten or a zoo. (You can take a version of the test here.)
While the distinction between personal preferences and artistic aesthetics deserves closer appraisal, that is for another day. At the moment, I'd simply point out the incredibly low standard of the art community - when only slightly above half of the general population prefers the craft of a professional, master abstract artist to the work of a monkey, it requires a particularly skewered perspective to claim victory. Even the artistic community can only identify their own work about two-thirds of the time.
I actually appreciate the impressionist movement's visual critique of the cold, heartless propensities to which realism was susceptible. The origins of abstraction were noble and timely - but the point of the movement might just as poignantly been summed up in a few journal articles and op-ed pieces. The point was to sacrifice craft for meaning, perfection for emotion - they were intentionally suppressing the prevailing obsession with procedural skill in order to expose a painting's soul. They wanted to breathe life into art again.
The heirs of the movement lack the underlying and verifying skill which provided their predecessors with credibility, just as they lack an appreciation of aesthetics capable of appealing to an unpretentious soul. Scripture defines man as "only a little lower than the angels" and the ancient Greek concept of metaxy locates man between beasts and gods. By these standards, the abstract artist's craft seems to be quite a bit lower than that of the angels and heavily favoring the beast side of the god-beast ledger. It has been argued that a monkey with a typewriter and an infinite amount of time would produce Shakespeare. That may be true, but it seems a monkey with a paint brush can produce abstract art in a matter of minutes.
In its continuing campaign against Voter ID laws, and other laws, the NAACP has appealed to the United Nations.
The largest civil rights group in America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is petitioning the UN over what it sees as a concerted efforted to disenfranchise black and Latino voters ahead of next year's presidential election. . . .
According to The Guardian, the group complains that "34 states have introduced a requirement that voters carry photo ID cards on the day of the election itself." Voter ID and other laws, such as laws that strip felons of the vote, at least for a time, are an affront to democracy, according to the NAACP:
Benjamin Jealous, the NAACP's president, said the moves amounted to "a massive attempt at state-sponsored voter suppression." He added that the association will be urging the UN "to look at what is a co-ordinated campaign to disenfranchise persons of colour."
So the NAACP is appealing to a non-democratic institution, and is attacking the American legal system, and American sovereignty, in the name of democracy? How democratic do they think the world would be if the UN ran it?
Osawatamie Obama replays TR's "New Nationalism" speech. One appreciates the radicalism and subtlety of both in comparing the two speeches. For more on the radicalism of TR's speech, see this brief commentary. But Obama is doubling down on TR's Progressivism and demand for the nationalization of everyday life, while playing off of TR's 1910 Civil War reunion setting and the John Brown terrorism. Obama's speech is his now-familiar schoolyard bully pulpit of accusing Republicans of making arguments they have never advanced concerning class favoritism. (But a more extreme version worked for Harry Truman in 1948.) I fully expect Obama to endorse, as TR did in 1910, a "Federal Bureau of Corporations"--to offset the Citizens United case. Republicans make matters easier for Obama when they emphasize their tax cut argument, as though they agree with Democrats that general prosperity depends on the tax structure. Just as Progressives succeeded in their crusade against corporate interests, Obama channels their radicalism in his, well masked by the engaging persona of the Rough Rider.
UPDATE: Here's a money quote (italics added):
It's a simple theory [trickle down] - one that speaks to our rugged individualism and healthy skepticism of too much government. It fits well on a bumper sticker. Here's the problem: It doesn't work. It's never worked. It didn't work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It's not what led to the incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn't work when we tried it during the last decade.
Obama ignores the New Deal and the Great Society. He is laying the ground for further waves of Progressivism, probably by executive order, given the likelihood of Republican control of Congress.
David Frum last summer:
In this debt-ceiling fight, I'm having horrible flashbacks to the Republican debacle over health care.
Then as now, what could have been a negotiated deal turned into all-out political war.
Then as now, Republicans rejected all concessions by the president as pathetically inadequate.
Then as now, Republicans refused any concessions of their own, instead demanding that the president yield totally to their way of thinking.
Then as now, Republicans convinced themselves that they had the clout to force the president to yield.
With health care, Republicans calculated spectacularly wrong.
Peggy Noonan last weekend:
Once again the president thought he was playing a shrewd game: The collapse of the super committee would serve his political purposes. Once again he misjudged.
What has occurred is an exact repeat of the summer's debt ceiling fiasco. Then the president summoned a crisis, thinking people would blame it on the Republicans. Instead they blamed Washington, which is to say him, because he owns Washington. Immediately his numbers fell. As they did again this week.