Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tom Friedman to the Rescue

Thomas Friedman today in the New York Times tells us that there are two Tea Party movements in American : one is ultimately insignificant but drawing a lot of press attention; the other is ignored and leaderless, but will transform the country if anyone picks up on it. Former is what we call the Tea Party movement and the latter is the true Tea Party. ("The Tea Kettle Movement," September 28, 2010.)

Hey, Tom! The first step is obvious to everyone in the TPM. Stop spending! The best way to do that at this point is: vote the Democrats out of office. Stop the Obama addiction to zeros. Yes, the Republicans under George W. Bush's leadership had public money flowing like water from a ghetto hydrant. But Barack Obama broke the dam, and the Tea Party movement took off. It is what my fellow blogger, Harold Kildow, has pointed out, it's "the trouble with trillions."

In my column today, "The Tea Party: More Than Steam," I look at the Tea Party agenda, such as it is, and how is does indeed promise to accomplish what Friedman says it can't: restore America to its vigor and preeminence.

Friedman says the real groundswell of popular unrest is unsettled by a different set of issues that go more the heart of our problems.

The issues that upset the Tea Kettle movement — debt and bloated government — are actually symptoms of our real problem, not causes. They are symptoms of a country in a state of incremental decline and losing its competitive edge, because our politics has become just another form of sports entertainment, our Congress a forum for legalized bribery and our main lawmaking institutions divided by toxic partisanship to the point of paralysis.

This true Tea Party Movement which, unlike the commonly identified but false one, has a substantive agenda that focuses on "America’s core competency and strategic advantage," which is "our ability to attract, develop and unleash creative talent. That means men and women who invent, build and sell more goods and services that make people’s lives more productive, healthy, comfortable, secure and entertained than any other country."

It's obvious that the people who make up this popular movement have spent a long time thinking through the details of what they want from government in response to our crisis.

Leadership today is about how the U.S. government attracts and educates more of that talent and then enacts the laws, regulations and budgets that empower that talent to take its products and services to scale, sell them around the world — and create good jobs here in the process. Without that, we can’t afford the health care or defense we need. This is the plan the real Tea Party wants from its president (emphasis added).
The Friedman gives us more details:

To implement it would require us to actually raise some taxes — on, say, gasoline — and cut others — like payroll taxes and corporate taxes. It would require us to overhaul our immigration laws so we can better control our borders, let in more knowledge workers and retain those skilled foreigners going to college here. And it would require us to reduce some services — like Social Security — while expanding others, like education and research for a 21st-century economy. 
Wow. This is a popular movement that only an ivory tower liberal can imagine. There are some good ideas mixed in here, but it strains credibility to suggest that there's an angry giant of American popular opinion ready to explode out there with all these ideas on his mind. Essentially, Tom Friedman has said that it's not the Tea Party movement that's going to transform American politics and save the country. Instead it's...Tom Friedman!

We'll be waiting for that, Tom.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Congresswoman From La Raza

Representative Loretta Sanchez, apparently unaware that people outside her California (Mexifornia?) district speak Spanish, means to defend as a matter of racial right the seat she stole fair and square from "Bomber" Bob Dornan back when all Republicans could do was stand in stunned amazement when they witnessed undisguised vote fraud. Oh wait...

But anyway, this bit of video of Sanchez indignantly warning that the "Vietnamese" and Republicans are trying to steal "their" seat touches on both of her areas of expertise--vote fraud and racial politics. But sadly, those are the first tools out of the bag for most Democrat operatives and candidates in the multi-culti era we are thrown into.

Time for a better sort of immigrant, I say. No hope for a better sort of Democrat though.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jihadist Attack Hits the US

In this week I sound off an a matter of grave concern for national honor and individual liberty, a matter that ius not getting nearly the coverage it merits. ("Jihadist Invasion in Seattle," Sept. 22, 2010).

America is under attack from Jihadist verbal predator drones. ... Young Seattle cartoonist, Molly Norris...published a cartoon declaring, “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” That was May 20. Then someone turned it into a Facebook page, and it took off...all the way to Yemen. There, a couple of months later, American Jihadist, Anwar al-Awlaki, issued a fatwa calling for Norris’s assassination for insulting the prophet of Islam, Fox News and the New York Times report. ...

From beyond our shores and without setting foot on our soil, the Jihadists have invaded our country and taken the life of one of our citizens. Norris is still alive, but the woman as she was known is gone. ... President Obama should call this what it is: an act of war. He should make full use of his armies and agencies to protect this woman’s life and liberty, and should defend her as he would defend our borders themselves. But he has been completely silent.
Apologize for that, Nick Kristof.

It it worth noting that al-Awlaki called not for her assassination or murder, but for her "execution" (or so it was translated). Jihadists regard Sharia as the only legitimate law for human beings this side of Mohammed. They do not view any government as legitimate apart from an Islamic government. That is why there is no such country as "Iran." It is "the Islamic Republic." It is "the" Islamic Republic. The Jihadists view the whole world as being in a sense already under Allah's Islamic reign. That is why they are enraged at Americans being Americans in Seattle, and called for Norris's "execution" for blasphemy, as though she were already living under Sharia law. As far as they are concerned, she is. And so are you.

You can see, therefore, that there is a lot of sense in Newt Gingrish's call for a federal law forbidding Sharia being enforced as law anyhwere in the country.

Some will object that this no big deal, because we have a history of giving people new identies when they enter the witness protection plan. But this is a domestic law enforcement issue. As all serious crime takes away one liberty or another, such moves are in the service of liberty by serving the successful prosecution of criminals like mobsters. Molly Norris going ghost served only to stengthen and embolden these foreign enemies of liberty.

Furthermore, we must not make Norris into a heroine. She caved. She recanted. She grovelled. And she still lost her legal life. Read here and here. The Facebook pages are also disappearing.

Also worth noting, an Arab poll found that 58% of Muslims oppose the Ground Zero "Cordoba" Mosque, Fouad Ajami reports in the Wall Street Journal reports.

Chip Bok makes a good point with his cartoon on this subject. Americans have Islamophobia. Muslims have cartoonophobia. So who has the problem?

The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto featured the story in "There Is No More Molly," (Sept. 17, 2010). Here is the Huffington Post coverage.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

War Hero, Salvatore Giunta

The New York Times has done the unexpected: reported on a war hero ("Iowa Man to Receive First Non-Posthumous Medal of Honor Since Vietnam," Tom Shanker, Sept. 10, 2010).

In the most dangerous valley of the most rugged corner of eastern Afghanistan, a small rifle team of airborne soldiers fell into an insurgent ambush, a coordinated attack from three sides.

A young Army specialist, Salvatore A. Giunta, took a bullet to the chest, but was saved by the heavy plates of his body armor. Shaking off the punch from the round, he jumped up and pulled two wounded soldiers to safety, grabbed hand grenades and ran up the trail to where his squad mates had been patrolling.

There, he saw a chilling image: Two fighters hauling one of his American comrades into the forest. Specialist Giunta hurled his grenades and emptied the clip in his automatic rifle, forcing the enemy to drop the wounded soldier. Still taking fire, he provided cover and comfort to his mortally wounded teammate until help arrived.

Sergeant Giunta has a humble hero's perspective of the matter.

“I entered the Army when I was 18, and I’m 25 now. I became a man in the Army,” he said. “That night I learned a lot — and after that night I learned even more. This respect that people are giving to me? This was one moment. In my battalion, I am mediocre at best. This shows how great the rest of them are.” 

He is from Hiawatha, Iowa. He is married and presently stationed in Italy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Road Less Often Taken

"When the government fears the people there is liberty; when the people fear the government there is tyranny." --Thomas Jefferson

I reproduce this from, a worthwhile site which culls the best American thought from all decades:

The path of liberty or the road to tyranny

"We are faced today with two different roads, one of which follows the path of liberty set by our Founders in the Constitution, and one of which diverges from that path and leads us down the road to tyranny. There are two different warring camps within our society, and the ongoing battle between those camps has been graphically illustrated in recent primary elections and by the vicious fight over the nationalization of our healthcare system. On one side are those of us, including the members of the Tea Party movement, who work hard to support their families, who love their country, and who understand and revere a document that has stood firm for 223 years to guide us. These ordinary, everyday Americans rightly fear the unprecedented growth in the size and power of the federal government. They are angry over the unsustainable and uncontrollable growth of federal spending and the federal deficit that will inevitably lead to financial ruin. They are appalled over the contempt shown by so many in the other camp for our governing document, the Constitution. ... That other camp is made up of politicians who recognize no limits on their power, their liberal activist allies in the judiciary, and members of the media, Hollywood, and academia, who have been stretching, bending, and chipping away at the Constitution for decades. They welcome a tyranny of elites who can govern however they see fit without being checked and limited by what they view as an 'anachronistic' document and the parochial views of the American people. After all, they know what is best for all of us. They should control our lives and our economy. ... There is a growing movement throughout America to reinvigorate the tree of liberty, a tree whose trunk is the Constitution, whose limbs are the Bill of Rights, and whose leaves are the new sons and daughters of liberty who embody the same spirit that infused our Founders. On Constitution Day, let Americans rededicate themselves to securing 'the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity' by actively working to preserve the Constitution of the United States." --former Attorney General Edwin Meese

Rhetoric 201

This man's problems go far beyond his failure to master the art of rhetoric. He seems like a good man, but he's way out of his depth. What's worse is that his son is his campaign manager, and thus evidently hasn't any more practical judgment than his father does.

He is so ridiculously entertaining that the entertainment media is passing him around like a sideshow act, but this poor man clearly doesn't understand that they are holding him up for ridicule. But, of course, if he could see that then wouldn't be running for office at all.

A note on his promise to ban "gold fringed flags." His complaint is that it adds a color to the flag without the people's consent.

As for the flag itself, he tells another interviewer that he "hates" the flag, and would like it replaced with the three bar flag. Of course, I had to research that. It appears that what he has in mind is the first Confederate flag. It's a different world down there. That's sometimes good, and sometimes not.

Here he is on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

Kimmel invited him to move to California and serve as governor there. Marceaux's response? "I'll be the governor of any state so long as I can fix it." His heart's in the right place.

Read the Washington Post story on his candidacy after it ended. It's quite a tale.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Let Christine O'Donnell Speak for Herself

I don't have a crystal ball, and I cannot see into the heart of a single person on this planet, so backing this or that candidate becomes something like co-signing for someone else's loan. It puts one's credibility on the line. But I think a little perspective is called for in the case of Delaware's l'enfant terrible, Christine O'Donnell, and I am willing to give her the benefit of any doubt generated by ill-chosen statements on peripheral matters (is masturbation really going to be a national issue?) in light of her solidly conservative policy positions that actual do matter to the life of the nation.
The most common epithets being hurled is she's crazy...gaff prone...ill prepared...she has "baggage"...not smart. She cannot win. There goes the Senate.

Crazy, gaff prone, ill prepared, laden with baggage... compared to whom? Al Franken, the Jar Jar Binks of the Senate? The sleek and well-spoken Joe Biden, whose seat she is a candidate for? Chris Coons, the Delaware Democrat who is now presumed to be the shoe-in, the self-described Marxist whose communist epiphany came as a college freshman--an epiphany from which he has never swerved or disavowed? RINO in pachyderm's clothing Mike Castle, whose communications since defeat have been not with the winner of the nomination of his own party, but with the heads of the opposition party, Obama and Biden? (what could they possible have to say to one another?)

Keep in mind Castle was one of only eight Republicans who voted for the economy killing cap and trade scheme in the House. And this was not just another vote about which people of good conscience can disagree, live and let live, and let bygones be bygones; this is another sword of Damocles hanging over the future of America like Obama Care. It is life and death, in the literal, figurative, and economic senses of the phrase. The very nature and character of the republic will be determined by the next several Congresses as they attempt to undo all the hope and change. And even if he voted against the health care monstrosity (how hard was that?) , is there any doubt he would be of the party of mend it don't end it when the grown ups get around to sorting out the mess left by ramming that outrage through on the most blatant of party line votes?

Six years, the term of the office of Senator, affords ample opportunities to either stand athwart the liberal/socialist juggernaut or wave it on through. What do you think a Senator Mike Castle would have done? What do you think he has done his whole career as Representative Mike Castle?

I don't know the actual severity of O'Donnell's past--home foreclosure, over-due student loans, failed gender discrimination lawsuit--sounds like a lot. But lets not forget the "baggage" accompanying almost all of Obama's appointees, both successful and unsuccessful. Seems most of them are cross-wise with the IRS, but in ways that are considerably more corrupt than just being unable to pay. Timmie Geithner was well able to pay the thousands he was chiseling on--same for Tom Daschle, would-be secretary of HHS. Charlie Rangel, anyone? How about the entirety of the Black Caucus in the House, so corrupt they are trying to dismantle the House Ethics committee to head off investigations? Harry Reid and his multi-million dollar land deals? Not to mention the thousands of faceless DC federal employees who owe millions in uncollected taxes. But they, like all the rest of the elite, think taxes are for the "little people" "out there".

And that is O'Donnell's biggest sin when it comes down to it--she's one of the little people, not properly or adequately credentialed, from the wrong side of the tracks, daring to barge into the upper rooms of the blessed. Government by the people? Not by people like you, honey. In a former time, attitudes like hers were called "uppity".
Listen to her in her own words here (in a conversation with Pajamas Media prior to the primary election) and ask yourself why she would not be better than a weak sister RINO or God help us, an unreconstructed Marxist, in the US Senate. Even in view of everything the Dems and their little republican helpers are serving up from her past.

Innes adds:
Harold, you make a strong argument, though you may be the only one making it. Even Palin supporter William Kristol said this at the Weekly Standard: "In the Senate, Christine O'Donnell will almost certainly lose a seat that could have been won (cf. Oliver North taking the Republican nomination in Virginia in 1994 and losing that winnable seat—Republicans still won the Senate)."

Harold adds:
All the conservative intellectuals are against O'Donnell on the basis that she cannot win the general election, and thus the seat is lost to the Democrats. A number of things come to mind.
1. None of these same people thought the Senate was actually attainable before, so why now all the angst over O'Donnell blowing the big chance?
2. Saving a RINO like Castle is not on the Tea Party agenda, nor apparently for 62% of Republican primary voters in Delaware, certainly not all of whom are Tea Partiers. Do their opinions count?
3. When, according to the Republican elites, do voters get to discipline Republicans like Castle? Ever? Every election, it seems, is too important to lose a seat to the demands for orthodoxy from the right. Castle, Bennett of Utah, Murkowski of Alaska, the weak sisters of Maine, Voinavitch of Ohio, Richard Lugar of Indiana...the list is tiresome and long. They have been of the go along to get along tribe, riding the elite consensus sentiment that any Republican is good enough. All the while aiding and abetting the long drift into socialism. Well, now the people whose lives and resources have been mortgaged beyond their grandchildren's ability to pay have had enough of it.
4. This rebellion is a long wave sort of thing. It will take decades, if ever, to turn the ship of state off the course we have been bemoaning here since the threat of the Obami hove into view. If O'Donnell and a few others like her are not in the end electable, the platform they are running on (and the public enthusiasm for it) sure does put the fear of God into the party establishment, other RINOs, and conservative-leaning democrats. It sends the unmistakable message that this uprising is real and not going away.
5. In the recent electoral context characterized by Sarah Palin, Scott Brown, Chris Cristie, Bob Donaldson, et al., the Republcian party of Delaware has only itself to blame for running an unacceptably heterodox candidate like Castle, thereby allowing or even forcing a flawed Christine O'Donnell into the race. When will heads roll at HQ over that one?
6. Sadly, even if Republicans gain control of both houses in 2010, the Obami have enough czars and regulatory control in place to move their agenda along without Congress' approval. EPA, DOJ, and HHS on the forefront, the alphabet soup of other agencies, authorities, and operating groups no one has ever heard of already putting things in place, possibly already past legislative remedy.
7. We will need people in Congress willing to talk about disbanding, defunding, and prosecutions, a la Congressman Issa, to begin the pullback. Republicans like Castle will take the administration's and the New York Times' position on all of it. Until there are enough Republicans with spines to meet the emergency--and that is what we face here--the slide away from constitutional government will continue. We do not know where the point of no return is, or if we are already past it.
8. O'Donnell is no worse than any number of Democrat "Senators"--an office which is so degraded by the intellectual giants put up by the Democrats that she is no net lowering in any case. "Senator" Barbara Boxer; "Senator" Amy Klobachar; "Senator" Al Franken; "Senator" Patty Murray; unfortunately, one could go on and on. And how would she be worse than the likely winner, Chris "I'm a bearded Marxist" Coons?

Innes adds:
Harold, in her column yesterday, "Why It's Time for the Tea Party," Peggy Noonan cites Andrea Tantaros of the New York Daily News ("Stop Mocking the Tea Party") who agrees with what you say in your post here.

The current alternative from the left is even more cuckoo to voters: higher taxes, a new health care regime, more rights for terrorists, disregard for immigration law and constant apologies to other countries. Now that's nuts. So, with mud on their faces, both sides of the aisle are trying to shred the personal credibility of the outsiders. They've blasted O'Donnell for not liking porn and blasted Paladino for liking it too much. They call O'Donnell a liar in a year when the Democratic Senate candidate from Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, lied about serving in Vietnam, and Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters face serious ethics charges.

It's funny how the Dems are never afraid of running a Marxist. Does the press ever lament a move like that?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Governing Without Trust

Government is about trust. This is especially true in a representative democracy, the form of government in which some people govern others only because the people have entrusted authority to them. In our democracy today, public trust is at an historic low. That means an astonishingly high percentage of the population sees an unacceptably wide gap between what the government is doing and what they would like the government to be doing in matters that are decisively important to them.

Given the trust gap, and given especially how widely and clearly the gap has been publicized, people are alarmed that the governing Democrats are proceeding with the transformative change that has brought them into such wide disfavor.

At ("The Trust Gap") I go on to show how the Democrats have proceeded not only with disregard to public outcry and plunging public trust, but with redoubled speed with the change they had in mind in 2008 as opposed to the change the public expected. I argue that while Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have the legal right to do what they're doing, even to the point of effecting a Lame Duck Revolution, with such low public support it has the character of tyranny.

Harold adds:
"Trust" is the sine qua non (without which not) for consent. The consent of the governed, the central legitimizing feature of a representative government, can only be present if both the institutional structure is trusted and the representatives are trusted. The tyrannous progressive coalition (shamefully including some Republicans) now in charge has severely damaged our institutions by running rough shod over the constitutional boundaries, but also by lying straight at us in a way that would make even George Orwell blush. They do not have the nation's consent to transform us into a euro style social democracy (and they know it)--hence the long-wave reaction that is the Tea Party. Consent is given, and it is taken away. I hope it is not too late to matter. The world's tyrants have not been overly concerned with consent, nor have they needed to be.

Innes adds:
John Fund documents the shameless comfort with which Democrats have been seriously and publicly entertaining the idea of a Lame Duck Revolution after the November electoral slaughter. "The Obama-Pelosi Lame Duck Strategy," Wall Street Journal, July 9, 2010.) Those would be conditions under which I would head for Washington to join throngs of patriots in storming the Capitol Building. I can see Nancy Pelosi's uncomprehending and morally indignant expression even now.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Whiff of Grapeshot

In 1795 French general Paul-François-Jean-Nicolas Barras put down the rebellion of France's royalist sympathizers against the Revolution's new constitution by making the decision to fire cannons on a crowd. "Give them a whiff of grapeshot" has ever since been a phrase connoting the Machiavellian admonition to take stern action early. It was not necessary to mow down the entire mass; only the first volleys were aimed directly at street level, and only at the vanguard. The following shots were above the crowds, and the noise was sufficient to scatter them in disarray. Napoleon Bonaparte, the general's aide-de camp, immediately knew they had won not only the day, but had utterly routed the forces of reaction. "The republic is saved", he flatly asserted to his commander.

There is a revolution brewing in both the nation and the Republican party, and once again the sans-culottes are rising against their masters. The obliteration of Mike Castle in Delaware's Republican party primary race for the Senate seat of Joe Biden last night by Christine O'Donnell, is just the latest of "people's candidates" to overwhelm the will and desire of Republican party Bigs who consider their beltway insider credentials sufficient warrant to butt into local primary fights.

The non-elite quality, the rough edges and the not-slick, unprofessional mien of many these insurgent candidates, beginning with Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Sharron Angle, et. al., is the principle sticking point with the elites. Professor Angelo Codevilla's devastating pièce de résistance "America's Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution" is required reading for understanding the shift in the political culture under the feet and against the will of the class who arrogate to themselves control of the levers of power.

It remains to be seen what these Tea Party inspired and backed candidates will be able to do once in place. Regardless of how that plays out, the message has been sent, and it is not ambiguous. The revolution has come to the palace.
How many whiffs of grapeshot are they going to need before they get it?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here is a Great Teacher

Harvey Mansfield is one of the great teachers of the last two generations. He is professor of government at Harvard University, translator of Machiavelli and de Tocqueville, and the author of books such as Taming the Prince, America's Constitutional Soul, and Manliness.

The five-part "Uncommon Knowledge" interview with him on NRO will give you a peek at why truth seeking young kind have been drawn to this politically incorrect provocateur.

In part 2, he says, he discusses Western civ and the great books, saying, "Western civilization is not one thing. In a way, it is divided against itself in a very interesting way, the most interesting perhaps between church and state, between theology and philosophy. And so Western civilization is not a civilization that has one answer--one authoritative answer--but it contains within itself problems and questions. So it's much more interesting and more powerful than other, non-western civilizations."

Monday, September 13, 2010

On The Road, Still

In this morning's WSJ, Arthur Brooks, president of The American Enterprise Institute, and Congressman Paul Ryan (R, Wisconsin) pose the underlying question the Obama administration and its Tea Party tormentors have pressed to the fore: Do we still want our traditional American free enterprise system, or do we prefer a European-style social democracy? ("The Size of Government and the Choice This Fall")

In combination with Michael Barone's "Gangster Government Stifles Criticism of Obamacare", the tyrannical nature of the Obami and their new wave of progressivism is inescapable, confirming in spades (can I say that?) the darkest premonitions and warnings appearing here at Principalities and Powers and innumerable other outlets of enlightened opinion and correct reasoning. A few minutes perusing the archives will show our insights were neither overwrought, as some suggested, nor misplaced. And if such a review does not persuade, or is too much work, it should be sufficient to note that both David and I are extraordinarily good looking. For a couple of academic geeks, that is.

But back to Brooks and Ryan.

Deeply embedded in both Brook's and Ryan's education, and appearing briefly in the article, is Friederich Hayek's The Road to Serfdom. Like many another young skull full of mush, the Road to Serfdom was the book that launched, some thirty years ago, my early attempts at serious political and economic thinking. After reading the WSJ piece, I went to my office bookshelves and found my battered, underlined, highlighted, marginalia-laced copy and glanced through it this morning. Like that other ur-text of conservatism, Burke's Some Reflections on the Revolution in France, nearly every sentence makes an epigram or forms the topic for extended reflections. I recall being taken with the epigrams Hayek attached to his chapters, from authors and sources I had mostly never heard of at the time, but that had the effect on me as a reader he intended--it solidified his place in a tradition of thought, and authenticated the accuracy of the critique he brought to socialism and all its works.

Accordingly, for the enlightenment of our readership, and in lieu of quoting the too-many apropos statements from the book, here are Hayek's chapter titles and the epigrams he attached--every one remaining pertinent to this era of "transformational change".

Dedication Page: To The Socialists Of All Parties
It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once--David Hume

Introduction: Few discoveries are more irritating than those which expose the pedigree of ideas--Lord Acton

Chapter I The Abandoned Road
A program whose basic thesis is, not that the system of free enterprise for profit has failed in this generation, but that it has not been tried.--F.D. Roosevelt

Chapter II The Great Utopia
What has always made the state a hell on earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven--F. Hoelderlin

Chapter III Individualism and Collectivism
The socialists believe two things which are absolutely different and perhaps even contradictory: freedom and organization.--Elie Halvevy

Chapter IV The "Inevitability" of Planning
We were the first to assert that the more complicated the forms assumed by "civilization", the more restricted the freedom of the individual must become.--Benito Mussolini

Chapter V Planning and Democracy
The statesmen who should attempt to direct private people in what they ought to employ their capitals, would not only load himself with a most unnecessary attention, but assume an authority which could safely be trusted to no council and senate whatever, and which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enough to fancy himself fit for the exercise--Adam Smith

Chapter VI Planning and the Rule of Law
Recent studies in the sociology of law once more confirm that the fundamental principle of formal law by which every case must be judged according to general rational principles, which have as few exceptions as possible, and are based on logical subsumptions, obtains only for the liberal competitive phase of capitalism.--Karl Mannheim

Chapter VII Economic Control and Totalitarianism
The control of the production of wealth is the control of human life itself.--Hillaire Belloc

Chapter VIII Who, Whom?
The finest opportunity ever given to the world was thrown away because the passion for equality made vain the hope for freedom.--Lord Acton

Chapter IX Security and Freedom
The whole of society will have become a single office and a single factory with the equality of work and equality of pay--Nikolai Lenin

In a country where the sole employer is the State, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle: who does not work shall not eat, has been replaced by a new one: who does not obey shall not eat.--Leon Trotsky

Chapter X Why the Worst Get on Top
Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.--Lord Acton

Chapter XI The End of Truth
It is significant that the nationalization of thought has preceded everywhere the nationalization of industry.--E.H. Carr

Chapter XII The Socialist Roots of Nazism
All antiliberal forces are combining against all that is liberal.--A. Moeller Van Der Bruck

Chapter XIII The Totalitarians in Our Midst
When authority presents itself in hte guise of organization, it develops charms fascinating enough to convert communities of free people into totalitarian states.--"The Times" (London)

Chapter XIV Material Conditions and Ideal Ends
Is it just or reasonable, that voices against the main end of government should enslave the less number that would be free? More just is it, doubtless, if it come to force, that a less number compel a greater to retain, which can be no wrong to them, their liberty, than that a greater number, for the pleasure of their baseness, compel a less most injuriously to be their fellow slaves. They who seek nothing but their own just liberty, have always the right to win it, whenever they have the power, be the voices never so numerous that oppose it.--John Milton

Chapter XV The Prospects of International Order
Of all checks on democracy, federation has been the most efficacious and the most congenial...The federal system limits and restrains the sovereign power by dividing it and assigning to Government only certain defined rights. It is the only method of curbing not only the majority but the power of the whole people.--Lord Acton

If you do not own this book, buy it. If you have not read it, read it. If you have read it, read it again. The answer to the question asked by Hayek and Messrs. Brooks and Ryan, whether we shall have freedom or servitude, hangs on enough people being cognizant of both the question and the possible answers.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Perfect Day For A Book Burning

One hardly knows what to think of a certain Terry Jones, the now fifteen-minutes-famous pastor of some little congregation south of here who wants to demonstrate--what precisely?--a Christian, or American, or masculine principle or other by burning a stack of Korans. He has, since announcing this pending bonfire, renounced it; I suspect the visit by the local FBI office had more to do with the suspension of the planned gaities than any supposed deal he had with the Ground Zero Imam.

A number of things attach in my memory to book burning, the combination of which perhaps makes no more sense than the good pastor's project. But hey, he started it.

1. A line in a song by the Crash Test Dummies, Afternoons and Coffeespoons, where writer Brad Roberts muses on burning tobacco and mortality:

What is it that makes me just a little bit queasy?
There's a breeze that makes my breathing not so easy

I've had my lungs checked out with X rays
I've smelled the hospital hallways

Someday I'll have a disappearing hairline
Someday I'll wear pajamas in the daytime

Times when the day is like a play by Sartre
When it seems a bookburning's in perfect order--

2. Fra Girolamo Savonarola's Bonfire of the Vanities, where he exhorted the flock in Florence, circa 1491, to unburden themselves in a very public and very final way of the things of this world, including books. His compatriot and fellow Florentine Niccolo Machiavelli watched and made a note to himself: add stupefying public spectacle to catalog of advice to would-be princes.

3. The Book of Acts, 19:16-20:

And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.
17And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified.
18And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.
19Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver.
20So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed

4. David Hume, concluding his argument in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, riffing off of some medieval caliph or other who used this same form of argument for books other than the Koran:

"When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics for instance; let us ask, "Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity and number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matters of fact or existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion."

5. Fahrenheit 451, where future Americans are dissuaded by the government from thought by burning the books that might foment it.

6. Berlin, Germany, May 10, 1933:

In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933, university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in most university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and “unwanted” books onto bonfires with great ceremony, band-playing, and so-called “fire oaths.” In Berlin, some 40,000 persons gathered in the Opernplatz to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.” (

Burning of things thought detestable--witches, heretics, books, city blocks, even whole cities--probably ensued shortly after humans discovered fire + meat = good.
Maybe we can convince Terry Jones and the other clerical book burners out there to repair to the backyard grill and burn some steaks--or if they want to be provocative, some pork chops--instead of books of fake revelation this weekend.


Innes adds: I was surprised to see Pat Buchanan advocating that the FBI arrest Jones for endangering our troops. Is there a law that covers that? And what if there is? There's a fundamental law that covers Jones.

Also, it was an interesting providence that this should happen at the same time as the Cordoba Mosque controversy, and that the President should comment on both of them. (Of course, on what does he not have a comment? There is a six word combination that Obama has never discovered: "That is none of my business.") Obama is all in favor of religious liberty for the Imam in Manhattan and dismissive of concerns for continuing 9/11 sensitivity. But in Florida, when it comes to burning Korans, he is all about sensitivity toward Muslim, and he entirely disregards the Rev. Jones's freedom of speech.

And he's surprised that a quarter of the country thinks he's a Muslim?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Anti-colonial Canadian Past

Dinesh D'Souza has published a brilliant analysis of the President's worldview and political agenda entitled, "How Obama Thinks" (Forbes, September 27, 2010 [yes, it's how magazines date things]). His thesis is that, "the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States"

Anticolonialism is the doctrine that rich countries of the West got rich by invading, occupying and looting poor countries of Asia, Africa and South America. As one of Obama's acknowledged intellectual influences, Frantz Fanon, wrote in The Wretched of the Earth, "The well-being and progress of Europe have been built up with the sweat and the dead bodies of Negroes, Arabs, Indians and the yellow races."

Anticolonialists hold that even when countries secure political independence they remain economically dependent on their former captors. This dependence is called neocolonialism, a term defined by the African statesman Kwame Nkrumah (1909--72) in his book Neocolonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. Nkrumah, Ghana's first president, writes that poor countries may be nominally free, but they continue to be manipulated from abroad by powerful corporate and plutocratic elites. These forces of neocolonialism oppress not only Third World people but also citizens in their own countries. Obviously the solution is to resist and overthrow the oppressors. This was the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. and many in his generation, including many of my own relatives in India.

Obama Sr. was an economist, and in 1965 he published an important article in the East Africa Journal called "Problems Facing Our Socialism." Obama Sr. wasn't a doctrinaire socialist; rather, he saw state appropriation of wealth as a necessary means to achieve the anticolonial objective of taking resources away from the foreign looters and restoring them to the people of Africa. For Obama Sr. this was an issue of national autonomy. "Is it the African who owns this country? If he does, then why should he not control the economic means of growth in this country?"
What came immediately to mind for me upon reading this was...Pierre Trudeau and the Canadian politics of the 1970s. Canada was said to be a "branchplant economy." This anti-colonial view of the world was the governing view in the Liberal Party as well as in the universities, or certainly at the University of Toronto where I attended. Hence, Trudeau gave us our national oil company, PetroCan. "It's ours!," the commercial told us.
Things have changed since then. They had to. The state became far too top heavy to be economically sustainable, and so governments began slashing budgets. (Did it begin under Jean Chretien, of all people, with Paul Martin as finance minister?). It has certainly proceeded apace under Stephen Harper's leadership.

D'Souza (the new president of The King's College, by the way) points out the absurdity of the President of the United States taking this approach to the world, especially in the world as it is developing today.

Colonialism today is a dead issue. No one cares about it except the man in the White House. He is the last anticolonial. Emerging market economies such as China, India, Chile and Indonesia have solved the problem of backwardness; they are exploiting their labor advantage and growing much faster than the U.S. If America is going to remain on top, we have to compete in an increasingly tough environment.

But instead of readying us for the challenge, our President is trapped in his father's time machine. Incredibly, the U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation's agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son. The son makes it happen, but he candidly admits he is only living out his father's dream. The invisible father provides the inspiration, and the son dutifully gets the job done. America today is governed by a ghost.

At the same time that it published "How Obama Thinks," also published its list of "The Best Countries for Business." Canada is ranked fourth in the world. The United States has slipped to ninth. Canada is not only prospering, but doing so at the expense of its elephantine American neighbor to the south. It is doing this not by protective state control of the economy, but by the same free enterprise that (among many other factors historical and geographical) gave America its competitive edge. The North American Free Trade Agreement helped. It also helps that there is now an anti-colonialist in the White House hamstringing Canada's competition.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Rhetoric 101

The tradition of a Western political rhetoric is a great one, dating back at least to Demosthenes and Pericles in fourth and fifth century Athens. The Greeks developed it into a science, and Aristotle can tell you all about it in The Rhetoric. Our own day is not a golden age of moving political speech (though Chris Matthews may disagree). But Councilman Phil Davison's nomination speech before the Stark County Republican Party's executive committee meeting for the office of treasurer is a textbook case of what not to do. See if you can spot the errors. They're subtle, but unmistakable.

Okay, they're not subtle. In fact, it's painful to watch.

Just a couple of things. He both does and does not want to wander from the podium. You can give a good speech from notes, but if you do, you have to stand in one place and deliver it. If you want to do the dramatic pacing, you have to know the speech or know your thoughts well enough to deliver it extemporaneously. I thought it was particularly humorous that when he came to his favorite Einstein quote, "one of my most favorite quotes in the history of the spoken word," he botched it and had to return to his notes to get it right.

Final irony: he has a master's degree in communication. He boasts of this.

Davison was denied the nomination.

Thanks Richie for the clip, and for this related one.

The Huffington Post was pleased to report on the Stark County spectacle here.