Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Men and Women

"Women and children first"

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).

Categories > Men and Women


Etta James

Etta James has died.  She was 73 years old.  She once said: "A lot of people think the blues is depressing, but that's not the blues I'm singing.  When I'm singing the blues, I'm singing life.  people that can't stand to listen to the blues, they've got to be phonies."  Her best song was At Last.  RIP.
Categories > Leisure

Foreign Affairs

Churchill Center in DC

A National Churchill Library and Center will open at George Washington University, beginning in 2013. They'd better have that bust that Obama returned. It claims to be the first American research center devoted to Sir Winston (ignoring claims The Claremont Institute might care to make)..
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Pipeline Politics

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.

Categories > Politics


The 84%

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.

Categories > Congress

Political Philosophy

Law and Liberty

Let me bring to your attention Liberty Fund's latest effort on behalf of the good cause: The Library of Law and LibertyThis impressive site's focus is on the content, status, and development of law in republican and limited government and the ways that liberty and law and law and liberty mutually reinforce the other. This site brings together serious debate, commentary, essays, book reviews, interviews, and educational material in a commitment to the first principles of law in a free society. Law and Liberty considers a range of foundational and contemporary legal issues, legal and political philosophy, and pedagogy.  There is much here, including a blog, Liberty Law Blog with Michael Greve and Michael Rappaport, et al.  Also note the Liberty Forum
which is a platform for debate, and you will note that some thoughtful folks are already involved in a good conversation--Hamburger, Stoner, Watson--and more will follow.  This is altogether good stuff and there is more. Do check it out.

Foreign Affairs

George Kennan Faces the Music

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.

Categories > Foreign Affairs


Preemptive Politics

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.

Categories > Elections


William F. Buckley on Dr. King (Update)

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.

Categories > Religion

The Founding

Hungarian Revolution for us

We need our Hungarian (Constitutional) Revolution here. In the last moments of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution the rebel radio broadcast the Gettysburg Address in seven languages, before the Soviets extinguished the freedom movement. Now a free Hungary is giving America some inspiration.
Categories > The Founding