Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


Quotations du Jour

Today's quotes of the day are from Paul Krugman, and provided to us by James Taranto.  From Krugman's Economics:

"There's obviously a relationship between tax rates and revenue. That relationship is not, however, one-for-one. In general, doubling the excise tax rate on a good or service won't double the amount of revenue collected, because the tax increase will reduce the quantity of the good or service transacted. And the relationship between the level of the tax and the amount of revenue collected may not even be positive: in some cases raising the tax rate actually reduces the amount of revenue the government collects."

Contrast that with a recent Krugman column:

In Democrat-world, up is up and down is down. Raising taxes increases revenue. . . . But in Republican-world, down is up. The way to increase revenue is to cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

More evidence, as if any were necessary, that Krugman does not regard his column as an intellectually serious endeavor. His job as a columnist is to dish our red meat to the Lefty horde/ use his well deserves credentials in economics to suport his prefered policy presceiptions with whatever means he can find at hand.

Categories > Journalism


CNN Sees What it Wants

Czech news noticed a faux-pas in CNN's coverage of Occupy Wall Street. Reporting that OWS has "spread across the world as a call to action against unequal distribution of wealth," CNN includes a photo of the "Old Town" square in Prague. Yet the Prague protest, while political in nature, had nothing to do with OWS. CNN wrongly assumes that every political protest supports OWS, just as OWS wrongly assumes that 99% of Americans support OWS.

Cnn Prague.jpg

Categories > Journalism


Professor Tribe's Will to Power

Since the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments about the constitutionality of Obamacare, it might be worth looking back at Lawrence Tribe's claim that there is a "clear case for the law's constitutionality."  Moreover, he takes a smart rhetorical strategy, flatterig the Court's conservatives for being above politics. Hence, he claims:

There is every reason to believe that a strong, nonpartisan majority of justices will do their constitutional duty, set aside how they might have voted had they been members of Congress and treat this constitutional challenge for what it is -- a political objection in legal garb.

But what can Professor Tribe mean that the case is "clear"?  To answer that question, we should turn to his other writings, particularly his Constitutional Choices, in which he writes:

Whenever I suggest in these essays, for want of space or of humility, that one or another decision seems to me "plainly right" or "plainly wrong," or that some proposal or position is "clearly" consistent (or inconsistent) with the constitution, I hope my words will be understood as shorthand not for a conclusion I offer as indisputably "correct" but solely for a conviction I put forward as powerfully held.

According to the good Professor, therefore, to assert that any constitutional case is clear, is to pound the table.

In fairness to Tribe, his claim may only be that the heath law is consistent with a chain of precedents that go back to the New Deal.  After all, Tribe believes in a "living constitution."  But, as we have noted before it might be time for Tribe to stop clinging to his horse and buggy constitution, and join the 21st century.

Categories > Courts

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Othello, who did "the state some service"

The Washington, DC Folger Theater presented a noble rendering of Shakespeare's Othello (through December 4). This tragedy deals with race, religion, tolerance, and the costs of living in a diverse society and serves as a companion to The Merchant of Venice.  Stagings of both often suffer from our contemporary views of these issues, which undermine Shakespeare's tragedy and quasi-comedy.  (For a contrast, see Dennis Teti's astounding study of the Merchant, which uncovers Cathollic themes.) The Folger's rendition does not condescend and brilliantly emphasizes the depravity of Iago in the last few seconds of the play--I won't spoil it for now by revealing the technique.

I can rarely think of the play without also recalling the old Redd Foxx Sanford and Son spoof on it.  Howl with laughter:  Part 1, part 2, part 3.  Instructive in its own way, as well.

Men and Women

The Giffords Interview

If you are in need of an uplifting tale, do check out the recent interview with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The determination and relationship between her and husband Mark Kelly are remarkable. The speed of her recovery is awesome. The interview also sheds a lot of light into the damage done to her brain by the madman's bullet, and how that affected her. I cannot even begin to fathom how one can lose control of one's speech and vocabulary. To know what a chair is, but to keep calling it "spoon" or "cheeseburger" must be frustrating. But, in a sign of the remarkable thing that is the human mind, it is able to recover and relearn and remake itself. One of the doctors in the interview said that different parts of the brain will sometimes take over the functions of the damaged parts. Music plays a large role in helping to gain both physical balance and word recovery (something I remember complaining about in my schooling days--why is it so easy to remember the lyrics of a song but not certain mathematical formulas or the names of all of the Caesars?). Again capturing the amazingness of this human thing--the doctors said that they know what parts of the brain control speech and movement, but not optimism, ambition, charisma, and these other qualities that Giffords exhibited. People were unsure if she would get them back. As the interview shows, she certainly did. Good for her. Watch the whole thing when you get a chance.
Categories > Men and Women


Taking out the Trash

My recent Daily Caller article on Occupy Wall Street generally avoided the issue of criminality. I hoped to focus on aspects central to the movement's purpose and perception, and felt that the obvious criminal elements were a distraction from the more fundamental elements which defined the movement (at least in the media).

Since that time, however, OWS has been increasingly defined by its criminal elements. It has made no progress whatsoever in the direction of organizing and formulating a coherent message or policy. Rather than maturing into a political faction or evolving into a broad social movement, OWS has degenerated into lawlessness, filth and depravity. John Moser's post below provides a good summary and John Nolte has compiled an OWS Rap Sheet compiling hundreds of specific crimes.

Even New York City has finally had its fill with the protesters and ousted them from HQ: Zuccotti Park in order to sanitize the site. Over 70 arrests were necessary to clear the park. OWS is no longer a "movement," it is a mob. The association of Democrats (including Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama) with such riff-raff should cause them a deep sense of shame.

Categories > Progressivism


What REAL Protests Look Like

Last year, during the heyday of the Tea Parties, our friends on the Left routinely denied that the Tea Party was not the spontaneous grassroots expression of citizen outrage that its defenders claimed.  It was, on the contrary, carefully orchestrated by powerful corporate interests.  It was, in a word, "AstroTurf."

In light of what's been going on at various "Occupy" events around the country, I am coming to believe that these critics may have been correct.  You see, the Tea Party organizers were new to the realm of popular protest, so they failed to incorporate several elements that are clearly the hallmarks of genuine demonstrations.  Left-wingers, who tend to be experts at this sort of thing, recognized the absence of these elements right away, while conservatives remained in the dark.  Until now, that is.

So what are the telltale signs that an event is not "AstroTurf," but, indeed, a genuine reflection of an engaged, public-spirited citizenry?  Based on the experience of the "Occupy" movement, they would appear to include the following:

1. Tuberculosis, or other respiratory infections.
2. A campaign against microphones, even those being used by supporters.
3. Seemingly sympathetic celebrities cashing in.
4. The creative use of blood and urine.
5. Assaults on the elderly.
6. Violent clashes with the police.
7. Suicide.
8. Murder.

Memo to all sinister corporate interests: If you really want to stage a convincing simulation of a grassroots campaign in favor of limited, constitutional government, you might want to consider incorporating at least a few of the above into the show.
Categories > Politics


The Civil War's Irish Volunteers

I came across a Civil War song recently written by an Irishman from that era in New York City, about the Irish Brigade in the Civil War. Many of the Irish who fought in the war were the children and grandchildren of rebels who fought in the 1798 Irish Rebellion. My family has some particular connections to that uprising and one of its leaders, John Murphy. My grandmother lives in Boolavogue right down the street from the Father Murphy Center, which is on land owned by my grandfather's cousin, Jim. Jim also owns Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy, where the Irish rebels made their last stand before a British-led massacre saw hundreds executed and the rebel leadership wiped out. Today Vinegar Hill is a small, quiet, nice bit of land overlooking the village. My great-grandfather was struck by lightning twice in his life, once while trying to herd some sheep off of the hill. A century before, that great battle saw it covered red in the blood of Irish rebels, many of whose compatriots and families fled to the United States in the subsequent decades. The Irish Americans represented an interesting part in our war, and supported the Union heavily for several reasons--not least of which was that they saw the United States as their best hope for support against their homeland's oppressors. The ballad below highlights some important historical points of all of this--the connection to the Boys of '98, the refusal to participate in a parade for the Prince of Wales, and the support for George McClellan.

My name is Tim McDonald, I'm a native of the Isle,
I was born among old Erin's bogs and left when but a child.
My granddad fought in '98 for Liberty so dear;
He fought and fell on Vinegar Hill as an Irish Volunteer.
Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere--
We'll fight and fall beneath its folds like Irish Volunteers!

When I was driven from my home by an oppressor's hand,
I cut my sticks and greased my brogues and come o'er to this land.
I found a home and many friends, and some that I love dear,
Be jeebus I'll stick to them like bricks, an Irish volunteer.
Then fill your glasses up, my boys, and drink a hearty cheer,
To the land of our adoption and the Irish volunteer.

Now when the traitors in the South commenced a warlike raid,
I quickly then threw down my hod, to the Devil went my spade!
To our recruiting office then I went, that happened to be near,
And joined the good old Sixty-ninth like an Irish volunteer.
Then fill the ranks and march away, no traitors do we fear;
We'll drive them all to blazes, says the Irish volunteer!

When the Prince of Wales came over here and made a hubbaboo,
Oh, everyone turned out, you know, in gold and tinsel too;
But the good old Sixty-ninth, they didn't like these lords or peers;
They wouldn't give a damn for kings, the Irish volunteers!
We love the land of Liberty, its laws we do hold dear,
But the Devil take nobility, says the Irish volunteer!

Now if the traitors in the South should ever cross our roads,
We'll drive them to the Devil as Saint Patrick did the toads.
We'll give them all short nooses that come just below the ears,
Made good and strong from Irish hemp by Irish volunteers.
And here's to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres!
He'll lead us on to victory, the Irish volunteers.

Now fill your glasses up, my boys, a toast come drink with me:
May Erin's Harp and the Starry Flag united ever be;
May traitors quake, and rebels shake, and tremble in their fears,
When next they meet the Yankee boys and the Irish volunteers!
God bless the name of Washington! that name this land reveres;
Success to Meagher, Nugent, and their Irish Volunteers!

Here is some more about the Irish Brigade, their leaders like Meagher, and the battles they fought in.
Categories > History