Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Foreign Affairs

The Woe of the Irish

A few months ago I sought refuge in a small pub in downtown Dublin to escape a passing rain storm. As the bartender got my drink for me, I glanced at a newspaper that had been left on the bar and saw an interesting headline. Let's Quit EU and join US. My curiosity piqued, I started reading the former chief executive of the Bank of Ireland's not-quite-tongue-in-cheek argument for how American states have more sovereignty from Washington than EU members have from Brussels. Less than one month later, the Irish economy collapsed as a resulted of a combination of government and corporate greed, overpriced real estate, rampant loans, and exuberant government expenditures leading to Ireland's national debt being 125% of its GDP-- and the financial liabilities of Irish banks settling around 309% of its GDP.

Ireland is one of the seventeen European Union members to have adopted the Euro as its official currency. One of the driving ideas behind the Euro was to subject many of these other nations to German-style fiscal discipline. However, all it really did was allow these nations access to Euro-loans backed by strong German banks, and so they just borrowed and borrowed and borrowed. When the global economic crisis hit, there was a massive default in loans. Claiming that it would be irresponsible to allow the Irish collapse to bring down the rest of the Eurozone, the European Commission pressured the Irish government to accept a bailout-- that is, the Irish did not want to accept a bailout but caved to the pressure for one. The Irish public immediately condemned the government for selling out Ireland's sovereignty-- sovereignty that the small republic has only enjoyed for less than a century after almost a millennium of subjugation.

Now Prime Minister Brian Cowen's Fianna Fáil party, which has ruled Ireland for 53 of its 84 years of existence (and almost continuously since 1987), is facing being thrown out of power. The Green Party, which formed a coalition government with Fianna Fáil, is demanding elections-- and Cowen only narrowly survived a recent vote of confidence within his own party. He has been forced to set a new round of general elections for March. Today, in an unprecedented move, Cowen resigned leadership of his party while maintaining leadership of the government, causing leaders of the rival Fine Gael party to call for a vote of no confidence next week in the Irish Parliament unless he resigns his position as prime minister.

The Irish are a proud people who are fiercely protective of their liberty and sovereignty, and now that they have prostrated themselves before stringent EU economic regulations in exchange for a bail out, their pride has taken a huge blow. Like their British neighbors, the Irish have always been a bit hesitant with the EU (it was the the Irish who doomed the attempted European Constitution a few years ago in a popular vote). With their opinion of the EU lowering daily, some people are speculating that there may be attempts to have Ireland return to the Irish pound and begin distancing itself from the union-- perhaps, as Mr. Soden suggests, looking towards a stronger economic partnership with the United States than with Europe. Regardless of what happens, the Irish are facing their largest tax increases and government service cuts in their history. They've survived worse, and they'll survive this. Hopefully they will come out stronger for it. Éirinn go Brách.

Update: The Irish Government has collapsed, the Green Party demanding for immediate elections and ending their ruling coalition with Fianna Fáil. An Irish cousin of mine shot me this message on Facebook earlier today: "there is war going on over here.keep an eye on cnn grown men and women acting like kids for power its mad. the best ever. people stuck to the tv. its a laugh."
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Good Things Happen When You Listen to the Voters

From today's WaPo:

The new Republican leaders in the House have received millions of dollars in contributions from banks, health insurers and other major business interests, which are pressing for broad reversals of Democratic policies that affect corporations....

The impetus behind such largess is simple: Many companies and industry groups hope ... Republicans will succeed in rolling back Democratic policies they find objectionable, including environmental

GOP lawmakers took their first step in that direction Wednesday by voting to repeal President Obama's health-care overhaul law.

The media has attempted to make a case for Obama's recent "outreach" to the business community, but actions speak louder than words. Obama's economic regulations over the past two years have been ideologically-driven policies of social engineering - and productive businesses and industries are the enemies in his progressive vision of the future.

Categories > Economy


NBC Toning Down the Rhetoric?

Keith Olbermann, among the most hateful and vicious liberals polluting the air waves, has parted ways with NBC, effective immediately. Speculation swirls as to the reason for the parting (Olbermann had two years remaining on his contract). One thing you can be sure of is NBC did not suddenly adopt character, ethics or taste - and they have no intention of toning down the rhetoric. Olbermann long ago rounded the bend on left-wing lunacy, and is being replaced by the equally odious Lawrence O'Donnell (the latter being replaced by Ed Schultz). Rachel Maddow also continues her thoughtlessly partisan NBC broadcast.

Here's a better idea on the motivation for canning Olbermann:

THURS. JAN. 20, 2011

FOXNEWS SHEP 1,786,000
FOXNEWS BECK 1,780,000
CNN PIERS 1,025,000
CNN COOPER 740,000

I quote Francis Preston Blair: "From the bottom of our hearts we are disposed to exclaim 'Good riddance to bad rubbish!'"

Categories > Journalism


Debt and Federalism

Peter Orszag has an op-ed at the Financial Times predicting "turbulence" during "the hard slog of recovering from the financial crisis." Wondering "whether a home-grown fiscal crisis could derail this year's rebound," Orszag posits that the "severity of fiscal risk varies considerably depending on which level of government is under discussion."

The bottom line is that there may well be US public debt tremors this year, both during federal debate over raising the debt ceiling and with at least a limited number of crises in local and city governments. The bigger problem, though, lies beyond 2011, as the unsustainability of the federal government's fiscal trajectory becomes increasingly clear. I hope it does not ultimately require a crisis to restore fiscal sustainability at the federal level, but I fear it will.

Riding the wave of public opinion expressed in November, Republicans presently have the momentum on economic issues. Voters are waiting to see GOP initiative on spending cuts and debt reduction (as well as job creation and health care repeal and reform). Voters have rejected the know-nothing era of economic recklessness - it's time for adult solutions to real problems. This GOP let a similar opportunity escape them in the years leading up to 2008. This is again the GOP's moment - and voters are watching.

Categories > Economy


The Black American Condition

Walter Russell Mead begins his new "Black and Blue" blog by noting the effects of cuts on government for the black middle class.  He proceeds to give a sober assessment of black America today and will "highlight issues that affect Black Americans and look at ways to ensure that the transition increases Black opportunity in this country."  Mead gave a thoughtful assessment of Obama via a book review last year; this promises to be an important blogsite in our post-election efforts to "refine and enlarge" our political views.

Treppenwitz (in response to comments):

Conservatives in the private and non-profit sectors need to act prudently on our obligations here.  Example:  Must affirmative action preferences necessarily lower performance standards of minorities?  In my experience not necessarily, not if you know where to look for talented black students, and that is in inner city Catholic schools.  Conservatives need to becomes more imaginative about the way they think about opportunity issues; they must not become as stagnant as liberals.

Categories > Race


Communist Monopoly

John Moser, I think you'll love this one. From Der Spiegel, Poland's Institute of National Remembrance has created a game called Kolejka (Polish for "queue"), a communist edition of monopoly where the challenge is acquiring food rather than real estate. A description: "The players' task appears to be simple: they have to send their family members out to various stores on the game board to buy all the items on their shopping list. The problem is, however, that the shelves in the five neighborhood stores are empty. The players line up their pawns in front of the shops without knowing which shop will have a delivery. Tension mounts as the product delivery cards are uncovered and it turns out that there will only be enough product cards for the lucky few standing closest to the door of a store." My favorite card: the "colleague in the government," the game's equivalent of the "get out of jail free" card.
Categories > Leisure

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Vive la Difference

This, Vive la Difference, is from the Times op-ed page a few days ago.  I bring it to your attention because here, in one place, are many good characterizations, slightly illicit, of different folks and languages.  That none of them might be true is not to the point, but simple truth is sometimes miscalled simplicity.  And let's leave the Hungarians out of this for now.  Besides, who of us is really interested in plucking bright honor from the pale-faced moon?


The Storm Will Come

I've been remiss in my Herman Cain blogging.  The GOP presidential hopeful has been the subject of several friendly profiles by George Weigel in Slate, Joshua Green in the Atlantic and Bryan Curtis for the Daily Beast.  It is a nice to see a socially conservative and free market-oriented Republican get positive attention from usually liberal-leaning news outlets, but if Cain gets anywhere near the White House (something I doubt will happen, but we'll see), the environment will turn very hostile very fast.  I suspect there are three things driving the fairly positive coverage of Cain.  First, Cain was the first and so far only credible Republican to announce an exploratory committee.  Second, Cain seems to be giving reporters access and that access is being rewarded with the reporters letting him get some of his story out.  Third, Cain is a curiosity rather than a threat.  I think the last one is the most important for how the mainstream media will treat Cain.  Actually I think Weigel and Green will try (emphasize try) to be fair to Cain come-what-may, but if Cain gets the Republican nomination he can expect something like the Sarah Palin treatment from other outlets.

I was reading some blog comments the other day (sorry, can't remember which one), and one comment stuck out.  The commenter wrote something to the effect that it was Palin's personality and actions rather than her politics or social background that drove liberals nuts.  The commenter rightly pointed out that Mike Huckabee is about as rural and just as (I would say more) socially conservative than Palin, but Huckabee doesn't generate nearly as much liberal hostility.  That is true, but Mike Huckabee also never got to be the Republican VP candidate.  Huckabee never became a real threat to Obama becoming President.

One thing to keep in mind about Palin is that she has alienated different social groups at different moments.  According to the most recent poll, Palin has a high disapproval rating, but that is a result of a lot of things happening - some her responsibility, some not.  The thing is, the liberal hatred and loathing of Palin predated the events (like flubbing the interviews and quitting being governor partway through her term in order to become a professional celebrity) that reduced Palin's favorability among persuadable constituencies.

Many liberals hated her upon learning that she was chosen to be the GOP VP candidate and before she had a chance to say or do anything interesting on the national stage.  One day she is a mostly unknown governor.  McCain picks her and she gives a couple of completely uninteresting generic "mavericky" speeches (this is before her convention speech.)  Then you have the despicable US Weekly cover, the first of many of Andrew Sullivan's Palin-related psychotic episodes, and the New York Times showing a kind of prompt, sloppy and hostile interest in Palin's past political associations that it never showed in Obama's.  

If Huckabee or Cain really threaten to become the Republican presidential nominee, then we should expect a similar outpouring of venom and irrationality.  We can expect to hear that electing Huckabee or Cain will turn American into some combination of The Republic of Gilead, Deliverance and the Third Reich. That isn't a reason not to nominate a Cain or a Huckabee or a Palin.  The irrationality, malice and cultural bigotry of much of the media against social conservatives is more of a weakness than a strength.  But the present good (or even decent) coverage will not last and they should be ready when the change happens.   

Correction:  The writer for Slate who profiled Cain was of course Dave Weigel and not George Weigel (thanks to commenter Art Deco for bringing the error to my attention.)  

Categories > Politics

Salve, Steele, and Caesar

Hello. This is my first blog post here, though I've been commenting for several years as "R.O.B." I'd like to just take a moment to thank Dr. Schramm for extending the privilege of being able to write alongside some of the good minds associated with the Ashbrook Center. I am humbled by and grateful for it. Thank you.

I have studied and written quite a bit on Julius Caesar in the past, so it is fitting that my inaugural post here involves the "noblest man that ever lived in the tide of times." In an interview following his recent reelection defeat, outgoing RNC chairman Michael Steele depicts his battle with Reince Priebus as some sort of Shakespearian tragedy. "I know exactly how Caesar felt," says Steele. He goes on further in the interview to continue taking credit for the Republican victories in November while ignoring the debt that the RNC had acquired under his guidance. Taking into account that Caesar was both respected by those who killed him and successful in his endeavors prior to his fall, I should like to say that "I studied Julius Caesar. I knew Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar was a college obsession of mine. Mr. Chairman, you're no Julius Caesar." Good luck to Brutus in cleaning up his predecessor's mess.

The Founding

Philosophy and the Founding

Eminent constitutional scholar Matthew Franck has set up this website, "Natural Law, Natural Rights, and American Constitutionalism" for the Witherspoon Institute.  Explore and bookmark.
Categories > The Founding


Three First Inaugural Addresses

JFK gets the hype, given that it's the 50th anniversary, but keep in mind two others:  Reagan's (1981) and FDR's (March 4, 1933).  In Kennedy's call for an aggressive foreign policy we today hear Bush's second inaugural, with all its strengths and shortcomings.  In Reagan and FDR we hear the language of watershed elections, with changes in political vocabulary that persist. 
Categories > Presidency


Stanley Fish on Palin's Exceptionalism

One of the nation's leading intellectuals, a man on the left, pours on the praise for Sarah Palin's tract on American exceptionalism.  An excerpt:

The book is really an anthology. The author does not present herself as controlling or magisterial; she gives her authorities space and then she gets out of the way. Her performance mimes the book's lesson: rather than acting as a central authority, she lets individual voices speak for themselves. Humility is not something Palin is usually credited with, but here she enacts it by yielding the stage as others proclaims the truths she wants us to carry away.

Fish appreciates how Palin uses Jefferson Smith and Martin Luther King to illuminate the principles of the Tea Party.

TreppenwitzRoss Douthat, don't let Fish swim to your right!

Categories > Politics


Energy Fact of the Week

Over at the website, I've started a new short feature: "Energy Fact of the Week."

Here's the first one from last week, about how "brown" energy creates prosperity.

And here's today's, about how we already "got off oil" quickly in one major energy sector.
Categories > Economy


Opportunity Costs

How much further along would we be in the health care and entitlement debate if the cases for defined contribution Medicare and consumer-driven health care were as widely understood as the case against earmarks?
Categories > Politics

Shameless Self-Promotion

Civil Military Relations

My book on civil military relations is due out soon.  The publisher, Continuum Books, has more info. Also, the Foreign Policy Research Institute just sent out an e-note introducing the book.

Foreign Affairs

Heinrichs Calls for Resolve in China Talks

Rebeccah Heinrichs, an adjunct fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (and fellow graduate of the Ashbrook Scholar Program) writes today at about the upcoming visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao and the resolve that will be required of President Obama in his talks with him.  Heinrichs is especially alarmed at China's willful disregard of its own interests in their capacity to turn a blind eye toward North Korea's increasingly aggressive posture toward South Korea.  This, combined with China's own increased attention to defense offense capabilities, ought to give the US sufficient reason to amp up its own efforts and alliances in the region, says Heinrichs. 

You can watch Heinrichs discuss these issues in further detail here.  
Categories > Foreign Affairs


Out of the Crosshairs

After more than a week of witnessing Sarah Palin standing in the crosshairs of the crazed, dispirited, and opportunistic elements in the left wing of America's political commentariat, Democrat and former mayor of New York City Ed Koch has finally had enough.  Though no special fan of Palin or of her politics, Koch declares her the winner in this round.  He writes a classy, respectful and clear-eyed column defending Palin (and, thereby, his own American understanding of the proper way to conduct politics) against those of his own particular political persuasion who think that persuasion in politics can be or should be achieved by careless lies and manipulations.  The cynical "whatever works" crowd in American political debate has more in common with the Loughner's of this world than do those they would have you believe are too extreme for polite society.  Polite society worthy of America does not freak out whenever a strong and differing opinion is voiced or a counter opinion of equally strong vintage is offered in reply.

Of course, Koch is not writing this to do any favors for Palin--nor should he concern himself with that task.  He's writing this to bring the silly whippersnappers among his own crowd back into check as a respected and elder statesman ought to do.  Good for him and good for the Democrats if they listen to him. Good for America if we mind the generic advice he offers regarding fair (but still spirited) argumentation.  The bi-partisan politics of "freaking out" strikes me as something more dangerous to our liberties these days than heated rhetoric about "crosshairs" and "blood libels." 
Categories > Politics


Marc Thiessen on the Debt Debate

Marc Thiessen believes "the GOP will win the debt-limit fight," which will prove to be "the Republicans' first major test since the November elections" and "the best chance they will get to force major spending concessions from Obama."

Marc concludes with the question we are all asking: "Do they have the nerve?" 

Categories > Economy


I Want to Wallow in the Hate

There's something more than a little ironic to see Chris Matthews, given his neck-bulging, vein-popping anger displayed every night on MSNBC, in today's Washington Post looking back with nostalgia on the wonderful comity between Tip O'Neill and Ronald Reagan back in the 1980s.  There's something to this, of course; Reagan could get along with anyone if they gave him a chance.  Just ask Gorbachev; first he smiled at Reagan, and before you knew it, his country went poof.

Matthews seems to forget or gloss over the fact that the "tone" of public discourse in the 1980s was just as bad as today.  For example, here's a public comment from O'Neill about Reagan that seems not to be in Matthews's archive: 

"The evil is in the White House at the present time.  And that evil is a man who has no care and no concern for the working class of America and the future generations of America, and who likes to ride a horse. He's cold.  He's mean. He's got ice water for blood."

That's just a warm up. Democratic Congressman William Clay of Missouri charged that Reagan was "trying to replace the Bill of Rights with fascist precepts lifted verbatim from Mein Kampf."  Who can forget the desperate Jimmy Carter charging that Reagan was engaging in "stirrings of hate" in the 1980s campaign.  Los Angeles Times cartoonist Paul Conrad drew a panel depicting Reagan plotting a fascist putsch in a darkened Munich beer hall.   Harry Stein (nowadays a conservative convert) wrote in Esquire that the voters who supported Reagan were like the "good Germans" in "Hitler's Germany."  In The Nation, Alan Wolfe wrote: "[T]he United States has embarked on a course so deeply reactionary, so negative and mean-spirited, so chauvinistic and self-deceptive that our times may soon rival the McCarthy era." 

As Reagan's 100th birthday approaches next month, don't be taken in by all the liberals who now say what a wonderful guy he was or how much more civil things were then compared to that dreadful woman from the northern territories today.  Funny how liberals always seem to discern the virtues of conservatives only after they're dead and gone.

Categories > Politics

Refine & Enlarge

The Sinews of Peace

As research for a pending work, I just re-read Churchill's 1946 "The Sinews of Peace" speech in Fulton, Missouri. His lessons of political accountability are timeless, his prophesies of communist oppression are frighteningly accurate and his hopes for the United Nations are lamentable in their having come to despair.

The speech applies to every age and every confrontation involving the American democracy, and is another indispensible lesson in American political science.

Categories > Refine & Enlarge

Quote of the Day

Quotation du Jour

Ann Althouse reminds us of what The New Republic had to say about civility when Obama became President:

Obama should save the civility shtick for Republicans he'll have to work with. As for the guy retiring to Texas, the new administration should ensure he remains the useful foil he was during the 2008 campaign. That starts with letting nothing--not public amnesia, not nostalgia, and certainly not a statesmanlike gesture from the White House--lift him from the PR cellar. When the new crew opens up the books on Bush's government, they ought to let every embarrassing detail out....
Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover for decades; Republicans kicked around Jimmy Carter for a dozen years. If Bush's successors play their cards right, Democrats could use his legacy as a thumb on their side of the scale for a generation....
Categories > Quote of the Day


Pawlenty's Middle Path

Even as Reuters posits bipartisan support for the premise that "Congress must allow the country to borrow more to avoid a debt default that would wreak havoc on financial markets and imperil the U.S. economy," Pawlenty has struck a rogue position:

WALLACE: But you would say to the Republicans up in that building behind me do not raise the debt limit?

PAWLENTY: That's right. And, in fact, to avoid the default, I would take it one step further, send the president a piece of legislation that authorizes the federal government to sequence the pain of its bills so that we don't default on the debt obligation and then have the debate about how we reduce the other spending.

Republicans have indicated that their strategy is to bluff, threatening not to raise the debt ceiling in order to pry concessions on spending from Democrats. Considering the absurdity of planning a bluff after showing their cards, the GOP seems unlikely to achieve anything significant from this compromise. If Pawlenty's tactic is viable, it would be the first major test of Tea Party principles in Congress - a firm, but realistic, stance on fiscal reform.

Categories > Economy

Men and Women

Weekend in Birmingham

I spent the weekend in Birmingham, Alabama, visiting several sites of historic significance to the civil rights movement. Most notable, of course, was the 16th Street Baptist Church. After the 1963 fire-bombing which killed four children (original Washington Post story here), the church became the moral epicenter of Martin Luther King's work.

Birmingham is also the locale of King's imprisonment in 1963, which inspired the "Letter from a Birmingham Jail." King's powerful reliance on Augustinian and Thomistic thought, as well as the natural law foundation of America's promise to all people, makes the "Letter" required reading for students of American history and political thought. It also exposes the revisionism of liberals in academia who have replaced Rev. MLK with a substitute Dr. MLK. King's civil rights movement was not an academic exercise in human rights, but a religious testimony of God's law. The secularization of MLK is one of the greatest crimes of modern historians.

16th Street Baptist Church.jpg

Categories > Men and Women


Entitlements And The Budget

Two of my favorite political writers are having a disagreement.  Ramesh Ponnuru argues that congressional Republicans should focus on repealing Obamacare, cutting discretionary spending and block granting Medicaid to the states.  Ponnuru thinks that the Republicans should not try to pass laws that cut Social Security benefits to high earners or cut Medicare and convert it into a subsidy for private insurance.  Ponnuru would prefer that the case for entitlement reform be made primarily by the 2012 Republican presidential candidate.  Yuval Levin argues that any budget that does not reform the two big entitlement programs just doesn't make any sense. Levin wants reform of Social Security and Medicare reform in the budget resolution as a way to advance the argument.

I'm mostly in Ponnuru's corner on tactics.  The Republicans, as a group, didn't run as Medicare cutters.  They ran on restoring Obamacare's cuts to Medicare.  I know that f you really look at what Republicans said you can find weasel language that would allow for Medicare cuts for some purposes, but the public heard what they heard.  This is an indictment of the campaign that most Republicans ran in 2010, but here we are.  Ponnuru is right that you shouldn't just spring Medicare cuts on people.  You also shouldn't just spring transforming Medicare into a whole different kind of program.  Voting in 2011 to convert Medicare into a defined contribution program will be doing something you never promised in order to impose a policy most people have never heard of (never mind support) and whose benefits would be invisible to most people. And all of these changes to a popular (though insolvent) program with a vast and dependent constituency.

Having said that, Levin is right that time is not on our side.  As the programs stay unreformed, we will eventually get to the point that the most obvious way to change the programs would be some combination of huge tax increases and the centralized rationing of medical care (and probably not just for the elderly.)  We shouldn't waste time and we shouldn't wait for Mitch Daniels or whoever.  Congressional Republicans also shouldn't have a high profile fight with Obama in 2011 on cutting Social Security and converting Medicare into a defined contribution program.  The policies in question (especially on the Medicare reforms) have never been heard of by the public.  Even the vast majority of self-described conservatives probably could not give a coherent answer explaining why a defined contribution Medicare program would be better for the elderly than centrally administered death panels.  I suspect that your average Republican member of Congress would do no better. You just can't win the argument on such a high stakes, high salience issue when your spokesmen are incompetent and the public uncomprehending.  The first step to winning is increasing public understanding. 

Congressional Republicans could do something to advance the cause of Social Security and Medicare reform.  They could lock themselves in a room with Yuval Levin, James Capretta, Thomas Miller, Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Paul Ryan. They could try to learn, in as much detail as possible, why a combination of phased in Social Security benefit cuts for high earners and a slightly higher retirement age are preferable to sharp tax increases.  They could try to learn why a defined contribution version of Medicare would (along with other health care policy reforms)improve the quality of care for seniors while preventing the government from going bankrupt and then explain why the Democratic plan for Medicare would decrease the choice and quality of care available to seniors.  Then congressional Republicans should try to translate what they learn into concise and plain English.

Congressional Republicans could increase public knowledge of and support for these policies a little at a time.  A few hundred thousand people on a regional conservative radio talk show.  A million or so on the Hannity show.  Maybe a booking on NPR will make some converts.  Paul Ryan can't be everywhere at once.  The more people have heard of these policy ideas and their benefits in a nonthreatening format, the more open they will be to the adoption of these policies.  It doesn't sound like much, but ten or fifteen members of Congress working all the media that will have them could vastly increase public knowledge and (maybe) public support for conservative entitlement reforms (though from a very low base when it comes to Medicare.)  Ponnuru is right that the real debate over entitlement reform will have to be between Obama and his 2012 Republican opponent (this is of course assuming a certain amount of principle and competence in the Republican presidential nominee.)  Levin is right that time is running out.  Congressional Republicans (and other institutions of the right too) should be doing all they can to educate the public on the comparative benefits of conservative entitlement reform.  That is why Republican members of Congress should not wait until the Spring budget fight.  They should start that education process right now and they should start with themselves.    

Categories > Politics


Before King (Updated)

There was Frederick Douglass.  Drawing on his significant book, Peter Myers succinctly describes Douglass's greatness here, on the Heritage Foundation's website.  Douglass's evolution from a despiser of the Constitution to a defender of it, even without an anti-slavery amendment, poses a model for Americans today who seek a return to the Constitution.  Douglass is required reading for the Tea Party. 

Also before King was Jackie Robinson, the Dodger star who integrated the All-American game.  Like sprinter Jesse Owens in the "Hitler Olympics," he showed excellence in his talent and in that way made the case for equality.  In their own way they made, like King, natural law arguments for equality.

UPDATE:  The Sage of Mt. Airy reflects on his own white, Southern tergiversations regarding the appropriateness of the King Holiday.  Unlike Douglass, King apparently declined in his esteem for the document. 

Categories > Race

Men and Women

Small Blessings

Christina Green, the 9-year old girl who was born on 9-11-2001 and died in the Arizona massacre, turns out to have been an organ donor and has saved the life of "a little girl in Boston."

Asked if he'd like to meet the girl who received the transplant, Christina's father replied, "Oh yes, and I'd give her a big hug."

Sometimes the world is a beautiful place.

Categories > Men and Women


2012: Kay Bailey Hutchison Retiring

The Washington Times reports:

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ... won't seek re-election to a fourth full term next year, marking the first retirement of the 2012 election cycle and leaving an open seat Democrats say they'll force Republicans to defend.

Democrats are attempting a bridge too far, but the Tea Party will likely score another victory by replacing "the Olympia Snow of the South" with a more conservative Texan.

Categories > Elections


The Looming Energy Debate

Over the past years, the Czech Republic has invested heavily in renewable energy, such as solar power. Unsurprisingly, the Czech government is now quietly admitting that energy prices are going to rise, in part, due to these subsidies and the resulting higher energy costs which the public must now purchase.

Powerline suggests that this same looming consequence in America will be "the next Obama disaster." In light of rising oil costs, energy is an issue waiting in the wings for its cue to take center stage in the public debate. Having opposed off-shore drilling and committed America to renewable energy, Obama will not endure such a debate unscathed.

Categories > Economy

Foreign Affairs

Who Wears the Pants(uit)?

Is Hillary Clinton abandoning the Obama doctrine abroad in favor of ... the Bush doctrine? From the WSJ:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, adopting a tone reminiscent of the Bush administration, blasted Arab governments for stalled political change, warning that extremists were exploiting a lack of democracy to promote radical agendas across the Middle East.

. . .

The secretary of state's speech marks a contrast with the tone of the Obama administration so far. President Barack Obama has been criticized by democracy activists for not more aggressively pushing leaders in the Arab and Muslim world to pursue political openness.

Fittingly, Clinton was speaking at "Forum for the Future," the annual summit established by the Bush following Sept. 11. Whereas Bush "made democracy promotion the cornerstone of U.S. policy in the Middle East, rattling many of the region's strongmen," Obama has "broached the issue of democracy tentatively, saying 'no system of government can or should be imposed on one nation by any other.'"

We'll see if this seeming course shift augurs a holistic change of policy or a momentary burst of realism which will soon fade into more tempered diplomacy.

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs

Oh, I Hope This is True

From today's NewYork Times:

Operations at Israel's Dimona complex are among the strongest clues that the Stuxnet computer worm was an American-Israeli project to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program.

Categories > Foreign Affairs


Psychobiography Still Doesn't Work

Everyone keeps trying to tread in the footsteps of Fawn Brodie, but it doesn't work very well, as I explain in a review of a psychobiography of George W. Bush appearing in today's Washington Post.
Categories > Politics