The current Republican exchanges? Besides those, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, according to the popularizing Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer. He responded to Newt Gingrich's call for Lincoln-Douglas debates against Obama. Holzer, however, reassures us that "Rather than inspiring memorable words, they proved for the most part an embarrassment." In fact, in his view, they show Lincoln's racial bigotry:
"I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races," he declared in Charleston, Ill., to robust cheers, "nor ever have been in favor of making voters of the negroes, or jurors, or qualifying them to hold office, or having them to marry with white people." It was not the future emancipator's finest hour.
This is mediocre historian shallowness, which ignores what Lincoln might do in the future--shown clearly by the Emancipation Proclamation, his allowing blacks to fight in the Union army, and his early policies for reintegrating the South. Lincoln had no reason to speak of such civil and political equality, when most blacks were slaves. This superficiality breeds ignorant Lincoln haters and other cyncial leftists who despise their country. Though Holzer describes well the excitement of the debates, he, like most historians, simply doesn't see the principles involved. Ultimately, he does not understand the subjects as they understood themselves.
Read Harry Jaffa, author of the best book on political science since The Federalist. Crisis of the House Divided is also available via google books. Ashbrook has a pdf as well, but I can't find it. In the meantime here are some short essays by real Lincoln scholars.
Our friend Jack Pitney is skeptical of Newt's debating skills.
Former Democratic MC Jane Harman, now head of the Woodrow Wilson Center, appraises the SOTU. She knows which side her bread is buttered on.
Broken link now fixed, h/t JL.
I'm not talking about Newt and Mitt, but about the "class warfare" complaint hurled against Obama. This attack in fact affirms Obama's point--that there are classes, two (or three) Americas, as it were. Such rhetoric reflects the victory of the Progressive mentality, which was to reject the individual rights and limited government language of the American Founding, in favor of talk about the progress of history and a ruling class of civil servants--nonpartisan, scientific administrators. That is the real "class warfare" that needs to be fought, but Republicans flunked American history. In fact Progressivism got its political start under the popular president TR.
Theodore Roosevelt supplied the rhetoric for this swindle, Woodrow Wilson (and Calhoun) the political science, and now Obama a potential coup de grace. The liberal version of Mt. Rushmore--what might this be? we need a Howard Roark for this purpose--would feature Wilson, FDR, LBJ, and Obama.
Quote of the Day
"Egypt's crisis was the easiest market call since Moses warned Pharaoh about the frogs."
In Liberty Fund's new blog Michael Greve points out how powerful and efficient bureaucracies can be when they have determined leaders. The issue here is HHS rules requiring religious organizations to provide contraception coverage in their employee health plans. In sum:
Follow the progression: first comes a statutory text of sufficient ambiguity ["Obamacare"] to keep the Catholic Health Association, representing Catholic hospitals, on board in support of the ACA. (Now that it's been had, one hopes the association has learned its lesson.) Then comes an administrative creep forward and a de facto delegation to a private organization of known disposition, whose perceived authority and expertise provide cover for the bureaucracy. Then comes the wholesale, underhanded adoption of the interim rule.
Obama on Roe: "And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams." So does he oppose sex-selection abortions?
The entire statement below:
As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman's health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman's right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right. While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.
...was Saturday. I'm mortified to have missed the event and hereby make amends for my unconscionable oversight. However, I believe that I've aptly expressed my appreciation for the little critters over the years. Here's a snapshot of the flower pot outside our house in Georgia on a typical day last summer.
The invasion quickly escalated into a full Occupy Casa Paulette Movement, as evidenced from this view of our back yard.
Of course, we may have been partly to blame for encouraging them.
My realtor, a savvy local conservative, saw what we were encouraging in the back yard and warned us that Georgia squirrels are Democrats. They'd soon feel entitled to the food, housing and quality of life to which they'd become accustomed and expect us to continue paying for their leisure long after we'd moved away.
The difference between squirrels and Democrats, of course, is that squirrels are really cute.
Since we're observing the Lunar New Year, the situation in China merits a few remarks. Gary Locke is a bit of a rock star in China. Not only is he the first U.S. Ambassador to China of Chinese ancestry, but his non-rock-star persona strikes a chord with the Chinese people.
Locke's popularity here among ordinary Chinese ... has as much to do with his unassuming nature -- his ordinariness -- as his Chinese looks and background. Even before he arrived, Locke was photographed with his daughter at the Seattle airport, sporting a backpack and trying to pay for his coffee with a coupon.
Since then, Locke "sightings" have included the ambassador flying in economy class, buying ice cream with his daughter in the Sanlitun neighborhood of Beijing, and waiting in line with his family alongside tourists for a seat on a cable car descending from the Great Wall.
The reason for the fascination, many here posit, is that when Chinese look at this backpack-toting American envoy with a Chinese face, they see everything their own leaders are not -- leaving authorities struggling for how best to respond to his increasingly evident popularity
"Struggling" Chinese authorities are unlikely to be further enamored with Locke for his most recent statements describing China's political structure as "very, very delicate." While Locke notes that "calls earlier this year for a Jasmine Revolution" ultimately came to nothing, the people are increasingly willign to demonstrate and oppose the government - and a "significant, internal" event could have the power to spark an upheaval.
Locke said that since he took over the ambassadorship from former GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, he has become aware of public demonstrations large and small throughout China that ordinary people were using to pressure the government to address their grievances. He singled out a recent protest in the southern Chinese city of Wukan over the confiscation of land without reasonable compensation.
"[The people] basically prevented anybody from the outside from coming in and brought the city to a halt and forced the Chinese government communist leaders to send people to address their grievances," Locke said.
Of course, this growing unrest has been accompanied by a steep decline in China's commitments to human rights and the rule of law. Hope and courage - the promises for 2012, the Year of the Dragon - may be absolutely necessary for the Chinese in the months to ahead.
The year 2012 will see a stream of new books in the patented Thomas Friedman "Oh My God the Chinese Are Eating Our Lunch with Environmentally Friendly Chopsticks" mold. Some will be more worthwhile than others. One book in particular, however, is sure to stand out, if only for the title: "Becoming China's Bitch: And Nine More Catastrophes We Must Avoid Right Now."
The author, Peter D. Kiernan, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, explains in the introduction that "it's not a book about China exactly. It's about how America got diverted and lost momentum, and a dragon leapt into the breach. It's also about getting our mojo back."
Perhaps a must read for 2012.
Korea is celebrating Seollal, the Lunar New Year, today. It is a very traditional holiday marked by a mass migration out of the cities toward ancient homelands in the surrounding rural hills. The Koreans pay homage to their ancestors and spend the day with their elders. Some still wear traditional garb and the country is practically swimming in a traditional rice cake soup called Tteokguk. They are a wonderfully traditional people.
Also, according to my Korean friends - and to the dismay of many local Western females - today is our lunar birthday and we have all turned one year older. Luckily, westerners are not required to age again on our biological birthdays! (Korean age reckoning is interesting, by and by. They count conception as the beginning of life - newborns are thus considered to be one year old.)
2012 is the Year of the Dragon and hence promises hope and courage. (Fortune and superstition are also important to Koreans.) So, in the customary manner, I say: saehae bok mani badeuseyo - Receive many New Year blessings.
The science columnist for the Wall Street Journal writes about sex-selection abortion and how it might be curbed. The case against this practice leads one to question the morality of abortion altogether.
Another approach, quite suitable to young adults, is presented in the Newbery award-winning novel The Giver. In the dystopian world young Jonas inhabits, he discovers that his father, a doctor, kills those deemed unfit. Progressive Montgomery County, MD assigns this as an eighth-grade text (along with other dystopian fiction such as Animal Farm and Kurt Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron.")
Men and Women
It doesn't make sense to berate the captain of the Costa Concodria to be one of the first on the beach in an egalitarian age that decries the notion of hierarchy, difference, and duty. Taking off from Mark Steyn, The Sage of Mt. Airy emphasizes that point, taking off on "women and children first:"
What [Steyn] leaves out is that it's become instead, and sadly so, an increasingly accurate descriptive phrase that captures perfectly a class of people who do go first, whether they should or not. (If, that is, it's even possible to use words like should or ought in a properly multicultural society.) "Women and children" is now descriptive of, well, descriptive of almost everyone, male and female, young and old, able and infirm, etc.. We're all equal after all and that's exactly as it should be. (Here's one place where should is not only allowed, but demanded.)
Steyn on the origins of "women and children first:"
In fact, "women and children first" can be dated very precisely. On Feb. 26, 1852, HMS Birkenhead was wrecked off the coast of Cape Town while transporting British troops to South Africa. There were, as on the Titanic, insufficient lifeboats. The women and children were escorted to the ship's cutter. The men mustered on deck. They were ordered not to dive in the water lest they risk endangering the ladies and their young charges by swamping the boats. So they stood stiffly at their posts as the ship disappeared beneath the waves. As Kipling wrote:
We're most of us liars, we're 'arf of us thieves, an' the rest of us rank as can be, But once in a while we can finish in style (which I 'ope it won't 'appen to me).
Of course it should be built, but I disagree with Republicans who think the politics of this are bad for the President--e.g., our friends at Powerline. Obama's premise is that he has either lost the economy/jobs issue, or it can be at least neutralized by improving unemployment numbers. In any case, he absolutely must have the enviros with him. Once again Obama shows he is much more clever at politics than his decent but often impulsive opponents.
Update: Joel Kotkin's two economies (regulatory NIMBY and dirty manufacturing) analysis supports my point.
of those polled disapprove of Congress, according to a recent poll. But surely some poll has broken down the stats in following ways: Do you disapprove of Congress because it is too Republican, too Democrat, blocking Obama, ignoring the deficit, etc. Those numbers should be added to the total who approve of Congress, perhaps considerably improving the figures. (Occasionally there are polls showing disapproval of the Tea Party, etc.) Those results would be more important for the congressional elections, though of course reapportionment slashes the effects of general disapproval. Has anyone drilled down to get these numbers?
Has anyone polled Congress on the approval/disapproval numbers they give to themselves? Bet it's not far from the public figures.
One of the most insightful books I read as a student is George Kennan's Memoirs. Now we have quite possibly the definitive biography. Jim Piereson reviews John Lewis Gaddis. His thoughtful conclusion: Kennan was "an independent thinker of the first order who, at a critical moment in history, saw something clearly that others saw but through a haze, and by an act of singular intellectual courage earned absolution for any misjudgments he may have subsequently committed."
I prefer the late Bill Rood's harsher formulation, in "The Naivete of George Kennan". His last two paragraphs:
George Kennan's apparent intention in writing his book, The Fateful Alliance, is to demonstrate through historical reference the necessity to avoid conflict. One's judgment of the book should turn less, then, on its value as history, than upon George Kennan's value as a guide through the intricacies of international politics.
If you read The Fateful Alliance, think of the Czech Jew going out "to face the music," of Comrade Litvinov forced by the circumstances of his birth to be foreign minister of the Soviet Union instead of a librarian, and judge whether Professor Kennan is a suitable guide to the cataclysmic struggle that is in progress around the world, the "struggle between two world systems." It seems George Kennan would urge us to be tolerant of those who lead the Soviet Union while they make the best of the circumstances into which they were born; and we in our turn may have the opportunity to go out and face the music.
Good advice from Paul Rahe:
The Republicans should start right now -- pitching their campaign against "the do-nothing Democratic Senate." If they do so -- in, say, cheap radio advertisements all over the country -- it will throw a very large monkey wrench into the Democratic plan, and it will lay the foundation for their taking a large number of seats in the Senate.
We honor King when we try to apply his example to our times. William F. Buckley on Martin Luther King:
We read the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose life we celebrate while tending to ignore the essence of his beliefs, acclaimed by him (as by Abraham Lincoln) as the ground of his idealism. A bizarre paradox in the new secular order is the celebration of Dr. King's birthday as a national holiday acclaimed as the heartbeat of articulated idealism in race relations, conscientiously observed in our schools [think of all the colleges and public schools that ignore national holidays such as Veterans Day--but recognize the King holiday] with, however, scant thought given to Dr. King's own faith. What is largely overlooked, in the matter of Dr. King, is his Christian training and explicitly Christian commitment. Every student is familiar with the incantation, "I have a dream." Not many are familiar with the peroration. The closing words were "... and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." [speech honoring the Heritage Foundation, Oct. 20, 1999, p. 472]
The speech, from collected Buckley speeches, is available via google books.
Teaming with secular media, the Obama Administration is clearly hostile toward organized religion, in particular the Catholic Church. Would King have stood for the churches or the Obama program? Would he have joined the March for Life?
Update: The Buckley speech can also be found here, with some added commentary, as Michelle notes in the comments below. Please read Lucas Morel's comment as well--an excerpt from his MLK Day remarks.
Are the Republicans degenerating or just revealing their true selves? With his latest charge that M. Mitt speaks French (Newt does too), it must be speculated that Newt is indulging in (self-)caricature. Of course it can always get worse--someone can appeal to states' rights. Here's a good explanation of why conservatives should speak of federalism instead--plus a few other New Year's political resolutions.
The EPA faced tough questioning at SCOTUS. Justice Alito to counsel for the government/EPA: "If you related the facts of this case . . . to an ordinary homeowner, don't you think most ordinary homeowners would say this kind of thing can't happen in the United States?" The case involved an alleged wetlands protection violation and whether the owners had a right to a judicial hearing. Chief Justice Roberts to counsel for the government: "What would you do, Mr. Stewart, if you received this compliance order? You don't think your property has wetlands on it and you get this compliance order from the EPA. What would you do?" Counsel responded meekly about obeying the law. See pp. 36-37 of the transcript of the oral argument. See pp. 42-44 for the government's reasoning for not granting hearings to those being prosecuted by the EPA. This is not mere Tocquevillean soft despotism! Even the liberal justices expressed sympathy for the landowners.
The Pacific Legal Foundation argued for the plaintiff landowners, the Sacketts. It will put up the audio later in the week. Someone who attended the oral argument told me that Mrs.Sackett had to restrain her husband from doing fist pumps when they heard the hostile questioning from the justices.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention that the President paid a surprise visit to the EPA yesterday, bucking up the staff and cheering them on. "When we clean up our nation's waterways, we generate more tourists for our local communities." In the Sacketts' backyard? Of course Obama allowed, in one of his typical throwaway lines, "we have an obligation every single day to think about how can we do our business a little bit better."
Literature, Poetry, and Books
I think of all the couples with advanced degrees who have remarkably successful children, and I wonder how other kids can enjoy such success. Charles Murray has long made this a theme of his. The full account can be found in The New Criterion. "Many [in the new elite] have never worked at a job that caused a body part to hurt at the end of the day, never had a conversation with an evangelical Christian, never seen a factory floor, never had a friend who didn't have a college degree, never hunted or fished." Here is the excerpt from today's WSJ:
The members of America's new upper class tend not to watch the same movies and television shows that the rest of America watches, don't go to kinds of restaurants the rest of America frequents, tend to buy different kinds of automobiles, and have passions for being green, maintaining the proper degree of body fat, and supporting gay marriage that most Americans don't share. Their child-raising practices are distinctive, and they typically take care to enroll their children in schools dominated by the offspring of the upper middle class--or, better yet, of the new upper class. They take their vacations in different kinds of places than other Americans go and are often indifferent to the professional sports that are so popular among other Americans. Few have served in the military, and few of their children either.
Worst of all, a growing proportion of the people who run the institutions of our country have never known any other culture. They are the children of upper-middle-class parents, have always lived in upper-middle-class neighborhoods and gone to upper-middle-class schools. Many have never worked at a job that caused a body part to hurt at the end of the day, never had a conversation with an evangelical Christian, never seen a factory floor, never had a friend who didn't have a college degree, never hunted or fished. They are likely to know that Garrison Keillor's monologue on Prairie Home Companion is the source of the phrase "all of the children are above average," but they have never walked on a prairie and never known someone well whose IQ actually was below average.
From the full article, his conclusion:
The upper middle class in general, and the new upper class in particular, will continue to do well. But they will no longer be living any resemblance of what used to be called the American Way of Life. They will be the class on top in the same way that all complex societies have had a class on top, with nothing exceptional about it. We are perilously close to being in that world already....
Don't forget or underestimate the appeal of the Declaration of Independence. Romney wins over Ms. Poe, an evangelical minister fearful of his Mormonism. See the last two paragraphs:
"This is an election not just about replacing President Obama, it's an election about the soul of America," Romney said, as Poe gingerly climbed a chair to get a better view. As Romney cited the Declaration of Independence, Poe nodded in agreement. "They said that we had been endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights. And as you know, those rights came not from the state, not from the government, but from our creator."
"He did great," Poe said as Romney walked around the room shaking hands. "If he were the chosen candidate, I could support him, yes."
Poking the left-wing mainstream media is a hobby of many conservatives - myself included - though it's so easy to find examples of liberal bias that the effort could easily become a full time job. PJ Media has done us all a service by assembling a top ten list of 2011's most extreme examples of major media malfeasance.
Beyond the list itself, PJ Media provides context and rationale for 2011's increasing "malfeasance" as compared to 2010.
In 2011 ... the leftist legacy media seemed to almost completely abandon any pretense of objectivity or fairness left over from its disgraceful collective performance in 2010.
Why did this happen? Beyond the normal factors, 2011 saw White House thuggery directed at a press corps already inclined to reflexively parrot its positions reach previously unseen heights.
To name just three examples:
- In March, Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers, sent to cover a fundraiser involving Vice President Joe Biden and Florida Senator Bill Nelson, was confined in a closet "to keep him from mingling with high-powered guests." Sentinel editors "dropped the story."
- In April, the White House banished San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carla Marinucci "for using a video camera to capture an event." The paper was "threatened with more punishment if they reported on it." Chronicle Editor at Large Phil Bronstein called the White House's subsequent attempt to deny it all "a pants-on-fire moment." Press coverage elsewhere was scant.
- In May, the White House Press Office "refused to give the Boston Herald full access to President Obama's Boston fund-raiser" because it objected "to the newspaper's front page placement of a Mitt Romney op-ed." The shutout was virtually ignored.
In a mid-May editorial, Investor's Business Daily called out the press for failing to stand up for it own, and correctly characterized the White House's actions as baby steps "toward state control of the media, using the carrot of access against the stick of exile."
Nothing has changed. In December, a Washington Post item noted that "when a reporter gets something wrong or is perceived as being too aggressive, the pushback is often swift and sometimes at top volume" (including heavy doses of profanity). What do you guys expect when you just sit there and take it -- something you would never do under a conservative or Republican administration?
The list is a walk down memory lane for conservatives - and likely an eye-opening revelation for anyone depending upon MSNBC and the like for information. And, in case you're thinking it can't get any worse, the prognostication is grim.
As bad as this past year was, there's every reason to believe that 2012 will be worse. The press has to figure out a way to drag a president who is very unpopular despite their best efforts to date across the November finish line while the White House continues its "oversight."