Thursday, February 27, 2014

Tea Party Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

Today is the fifth anniversary of the Tea Party Movement.

Several founding members of the movement and some high profile supporters gathered in Washington D.C. assembled for a celebratory meeting.

Observers usually cite 18 February 2009 as the beginning of the movement. On that day hundreds of protesters gathered in 48 different cities to protest the bailouts and stimulus packages that began under the Bush administration and continued under the subsequent  Obama administration.

The grass roots movement organized these protest in the ten days following a rant by CNBC's Rick Santelli on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade.

This grass roots movement eventually coalesced into several organizations, including the  Tea Party, the Tea Party Express, and the largest with the deepest roots, the Tea Party Patriots.

The core values shared by all tea party groups are those feature by the Tea Party Patriots:

Constitutionally limited government

Free markets

Fiscal responsibility

Although the mainstream media ignored and dismissed the movement at the time, it grudgingly acknowledged the movement's influence within the Republican Party and its striking impact in the 2010 mid-term elections.

Thanks Tea Party!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Banishing Bieber

In local news . . .

When the entertainment show TMZ reported the rumor that Bieber apparently desires to purchase a home in the affluent Buckhead area of north Atlanta, some residents sprang into action. The have organized protests at the house and have set up a Facebook page to promote it.

In traditional societies of the past, communities rid themselves of undesirables through banishment, ostracizing, or "hating" out. The practice goes by different names in the sundry societies.

It appears that some of my fellow Atlantans have decided to proactively banish one such undesirable. They plainly do not believe that a youth whose history of morally vicious behavior and petty crimes will be a desirable neighbor. They are not Beliebers.

Will the protest work? Probably not. Bieber has demonstrated already how little he cares for anyone but himself through his vandalism, speeding, driving under the influence, driving without license, and assault and battery on a limo driver. He probably will not be moved by this protest.

Are their legal options?  Real estate redlining in general violates federal law. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination in housing and red lining  based upon race, ethnicity, sex, religion, disability, and family status. It does not prohibit, however, redlining based upon moral viciousness. Perhaps Atlanta real estate agents should start steering undesirables like Bieber  into one neighborhood so that they are prey on each other.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Sunday Review: The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945

In 1976, the two hundredth anniversary of America's independence, liberalism maintained the ascendance it had enjoyed since the era of the New Deal. Although liberalism experienced some bitter divisions that manifested themselves at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, conservatism seemed even more in disarray. Conservatives had failed to takeover the Republican Party through the Goldwater movement of the 1960s. Neither had conservative ideas found much of a home in the GOP. Moreover, the Republican Party itself suffered from the disgrace of the Watergate burglary and the resignation of Richard Nixon. It was an inauspicious time to publish a book about conservatism. That year, however, George Nash published the definitive history of the conservative movement up to that time entitled In The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945. Began as a doctoral dissertation, the book comprehensively chronicles the contributions of post-WWII movement conservative intellectuals in clear, engaging prose. It turned out to be a portent of sorts as the following decade conservatives finally witnessed the election of one of their own--Ronald Reagan--to the White House in 1980. Reagan's election revived the prospects of the Republican Party itself, which finally captured control of the Congress in 1994.

In the introduction, Nash describes the scope of his book. "This book is about conservative intellectuals--those engaged in study, reflection, and speculation; purveyors of ideas; scholars  and journalists." He explains that the topic of conservatism as a political movement is beyond the scope of his work. He touches on political events most frequently when discussing conservative criticisms of the policies of the liberals (and moderate Republicans) who dominated post-war politics or discussing the conservative search for a presidential candidate as a conservative standard bearer. Nash offers little else on conservatism as a political movement.

Nash's introduction also contains a disappointing note. Readers might anticipate encountering a working definition of conservatism as a philosophy or ideology in a book dedicated to ideas. Instead, he deflects readers with the observation that defining conservatism is a "perennial question." He notes the difficulty of crafting a definition of conservatism that transcends place and time. (Nash pointedly avoids the terms "philosophy" and "ideology" in favor of "intellectual movement" in order to escape the difficulties of definition.) Does conservatism contain any "eternal verities" embraced by self-described conservatives of every era? Or does conservatism merely appear as reactionary sentiments to the social and political changes occurring in any given era? He settles more or less on the later. Consequently, in a refined description of his theme, Nash defines his project as limited to  "conservatism as an an intellectual movement, in America, in a particular period."

This challenge of even defining conservatism within those narrow limits appears most obvious in the opening chapter in which Nash discusses the first of several "streams" of conservative thought which formed the confluence of the  modern conservative intellectual movement. He introduces readers to Friedrich Hayek--who explicitly denied that he was a conservative at all. In 1944, Hayek published The Road to Serfdom, an economic examination of planned economies. Hayek's charge was that "planning leads to dictatorship." The book became a best seller both in the United Kingdom and the United States. It even attracted the attention of those who disagreed with its conclusions. The "Old Right" criticisms of government planning under the New Deal had been largely dismissed because Republicans were perceived simply as spokesmen for business interests.  In spite of the provocative title, a critique by an economist was something else altogether.

Hayek's book proved to be the first of many libertarian books and magazines to challenge the economic presuppositions supporting the New Deal. While "fellow travelers" rather than movement conservatives, the libertarians generated ideas that came to be embraced by the post-war conservative intellectuals-- at least on economic matters.

A a second stream of more philosophical and less accessible conservative writers included  Richard Weaver, Eric Voegelin, and Leo Strauss. In different ways they rejected both modernism in political philosophy and modern mass man. They traced the origins of what they described as the modern malaise to errors in thought made decades before by philosophers in Europe starting with Niccolo Machiavelli. What seemed to unite these eclectic writers is the eclipse of the ancient notions of virtue by the modern embrace of moral relativity. In Nash's view, they found it easier to fight ideas rather than more or less irresistible social and economic changes of modernity such such as industrialization or urbanization.

Nash turns next to the most influential group among the conservatives: the traditionalists. They, too, looked to Europe, not so much for conservative ideas or sources of contemporary philosophical error, but for a traditional  social order. The thinker most responsible for articulating this natural order was Russell Kirk in his The Conservative Mind. By means of biographical sketches, Kirk paint portraits of several American thinkers who attempted to foster an appreciation for the traditional order inherited from Europe. In fact, Kirk cites a European--British writer Edmund Burke--as the father of the American conservative tradition. Unlike Nash, Kirk attempted to distill conservative thought into several cannons that included a traditional social order based upon natural law, hierarchy of orders or classes, custom or tradition as against philosophical innovation, appreciation of diversity over conformity, and the inseparable link between freedom and property. Kirk modified these "conservative cannons" several times in subsequent editions of his book.

Finally, Nash introduces readers to the anti-communists, whose alarms about the Soviet threat to the Western way of life brought about some measure of convergence of those other streams of conservative thought. In several books, James Burnham articulated an aggressive stance against communism abroad; he urged replacing the policy of containment with one of roll back. Joseph McCarthy, more controversially, for a brief time led  the charge to roll back communism at home. McCarthy's reckless and mostly baseless accusations about communist penetration of the highest levels of government eventually brought him down. Although supported by most conservatives, McCarthy was despised by the man who actually exposed the existence of communist sympathizers in the government--Whittaker Chambers.

These diverse streams of conservatism converged in another sense within the pages of the flagship conservative periodical, The National Review. Started by William F. Buckley in 1955, the magazine's mission was  to stand "athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no other is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it."

To that end, the magazine published pieces by an assortment of writers from Catholic traditionalists, libertarians, and  ex-Trotskyite anti-communists.   The confluence of different streams of conservative thought was not a smooth one. The National Review also became a venue for philosophical infighting over diverse views about the relationship of conservatism to liberty, equality, and virtue between such antagonists and Frank Meyer and Russell Kirk and between Harry Jaffa and Willmoore Kendall.

Nash summarized the general agreement:

"There was a fascinating heterogeneity in conservative thought, yet most right wing intellectuals readily agreed on certain fundamental "prejudices" which they articulated and refined in many different ways: a presumption (of varying intensity) in favor of private property and a free enterprise economy; opposition to Communism, socialism, and utopian schemes of all kinds; support of strong national defense, belief in Christianity or Judaism (or at least the utility of such belief); acceptance of traditional  morality and the need for an inelastic moral code; hostility to positivism and relativism; a "gut affirmation" of the goodness of America and the West. These were but a few constituent elements of the working conservative consensus."

The National Review, as a biweekly magazine, also became a vehicle for conservative analysis of contemporary politics in a way that book length philosophical treatises could not. Conservative authors weighed in on the cold war, colonial wars abroad, the Viet Nam War, the civil rights movement, and the unrest on college campus. A note on one of these issues that has hurt conservatism politically: the National Review seems in general sympathetic to the civil rights movement and its goals. Because of commitments to the idea of constitutionally limited government, however, conservatives opposed federal action on behalf black Americans. Consequently, Republican share of black vote has fallen from near 40% during the Eisenhower years to less than 10% in the most recent presidential election.

Of course, the point of any political philosophy or ideology is its implementation through the exercise of political power. And in the period examined by Nash, conservatives never earned that opportunity. Conservatives relentlessly criticized the Eisenhower administration and remained lukewarm to the candidacy of Eisenhower's vice president, Richard M. Nixon. The National Review refused to endorse either candidate in 1960. They rallied around Barry Goldwater in 1964, but he suffered one of the largest electoral defeats in the history of presidential elections. They held their noses as they voted for Nixon in 1968 and 1972. The only glimmer of hope  for conservatives came from the election of Ronald Reagan as the governor of California in 1966.

Nash tells a captivating story about conservative ideas and the (mostly) men behind them covering three decades following World War II. If readers seek a working definition of conservatism as a timeless philosophy, they will suffer disappointment. For those seeking an understanding of those who opposed the post-war liberal consensus in America and their alternative vision, Nash's book is a must read. The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945 should be on the bookshelf of every American conservative.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Birthday Message from Abraham Lincoln

Today is the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, the first and greatest of conservative Republican presidents. Although President Barack Obama often appeals to the memory of Lincoln in his speeches, Lincoln actually warned about politicians like Obama whose ambitions threaten our republic.

While only a relatively unknown representative in the Illinois State Legislature, Lincoln gave a interesting  speech that presaged the rhetorical greatness to come. The title of the speech defined the conservative enterprise then and now--"The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions."

Lincoln warned of two threats to our institutions, both which come from among us.

The first was mob rule. The so-called "Jacksonian Era" in which he matured was not only known for the growth of democracy and the rise of the first modern political parties, but also for a surprising amount of violence. Whether lynching in the South or organized urban riots in the North, many Americans seemed bent on ignoring "the rule of law" and settling differences privately through violent means rather than entrusting the justice system. Lincoln urged that the love for the laws of our land needs to be proclaimed from the legislatures, the courts, the schools, and the pulpits until it becomes the "political religion" of our land.

Violence has not changed. Mob violence endures in the anarchist movement and some of the OWS rallies. Personal vendettas seem to be part of the stock and trade of the urban gang driven drug trafficking. But American attitudes about violence--at least among some of us--has changed. Instead of respect for laws, too many of America's liberal intelligentsia see fundamental laws and criminal justice procedures as infringements on the "liberties" of the violent and anti-social among us.

The second was the rise of men who seek "the glorification of their ruling passions." Lincoln acknowledged that our founders shared those ruling passions. They tied their future reputations in history to the success of the republican experiment that they initiated.

"If they succeeded, they were to be immortalized; their names were to be transferred to counties and cities, and rivers and mountains; and to be revered and sung, and toasted through all time. If they failed, they were to be called knaves and fools, and fanatics for a fleeting hour; then to sink and be forgotten."

The success of the republican experiment , however, created a problem. New men of ambition who seek "the glorification of their ruling passions" will not content themselves with conserving and perpetuating our political institutions:

"Towering genius disdains a beaten path.  It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.  It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others . It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor."

This kind of ambition seeks its fulfillment at any cost:

"Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down."

Is this not the spirit of contemporary Progressivism as seen the administration of Presidency Barack Obama, and his  on-going project of  "fundamentally transforming the United States of America?"

Lincoln's answer? Again, a  new devotion to the Constitution, the laws, and the memory of the first President under that Constitution. Although passions have helped Americans, now only cold, calculating reason must furnish the materials of a

"general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON."

"Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution,"the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.'"

Such is the conservative mission.

Below the entire text:

The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions:
Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois
January 27, 1838

"In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American People, find our account running, under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era.--We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them--they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Their's was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves, us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only, to transmit these, the former, unprofaned by the foot of an invader; the latter, undecayed by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation, to the latest generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it?--At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?-- Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!--All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now, something of ill-omen, amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgment of Courts; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny. Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form the every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country, from New England to Louisiana;--they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former, nor the burning suns of the latter;--they are not the creature of climate-- neither are they confined to the slave-holding, or the non-slave- holding States. Alike, they spring up among the pleasure hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order loving citizens of the land of steady habits.--Whatever, then, their cause may be, it is common to the whole country.

It would be tedious, as well as useless, to recount the horrors of all of them. Those happening in the State of Mississippi, and at St. Louis, are, perhaps, the most dangerous in example and revolting to humanity. In the Mississippi case, they first commenced by hanging the regular gamblers; a set of men, certainly not following for a livelihood, a very useful, or very honest occupation; but one which, so far from being forbidden by the laws, was actually licensed by an act of the Legislature, passed but a single year before. Next, negroes, suspected of conspiring to raise an insurrection, were caught up and hanged in all parts of the State: then, white men, supposed to be leagued with the negroes; and finally, strangers, from neighboring States, going thither on business, were, in many instances subjected to the same fate. Thus went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to negroes, from negroes to white citizens, and from these to strangers; till, dead men were seen literally dangling from the boughs of trees upon every road side; and in numbers almost sufficient, to rival the native Spanish moss of the country, as a drapery of the forest.

Turn, then, to that horror-striking scene at St. Louis. A single victim was only sacrificed there. His story is very short; and is, perhaps, the most highly tragic, if anything of its length, that has ever been witnessed in real life. A mulatto man, by the name of McIntosh, was seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of the city, chained to a tree, and actually burned to death; and all within a single hour from the time he had been a freeman, attending to his own business, and at peace with the world.

Such are the effects of mob law; and such as the scenes, becoming more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of law and order; and the stories of which, have even now grown too familiar, to attract any thing more, than an idle remark.

But you are, perhaps, ready to ask, "What has this to do with the perpetuation of our political institutions?" I answer, it has much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, comparatively speaking, but a small evil; and much of its danger consists, in the proneness of our minds, to regard its direct, as its only consequences. Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers at Vicksburg, was of but little consequence. They constitute a portion of population, that is worse than useless in any community; and their death, if no pernicious example be set by it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they were annually swept, from the stage of existence, by the plague or small pox, honest men would, perhaps, be much profited, by the operation.--Similar too, is the correct reasoning, in regard to the burning of the negro at St. Louis. He had forfeited his life, by the perpetuation of an outrageous murder, upon one of the most worthy and respectable citizens of the city; and had not he died as he did, he must have died by the sentence of the law, in a very short time afterwards. As to him alone, it was as well the way it was, as it could otherwise have been.--But the example in either case, was fearful.--When men take it in their heads to day, to hang gamblers, or burn murderers, they should recollect, that, in the confusion usually attending such transactions, they will be as likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a murderer as one who is; and that, acting upon the example they set, the mob of to-morrow, may, and probably will, hang or burn some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so; the innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations of law in every shape, alike with the guilty, fall victims to the ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of individuals, are trodden down, and disregarded. But all this even, is not the full extent of the evil.--By such examples, by instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the lawless in spirit, are encouraged to become lawless in practice; and having been used to no restraint, but dread of punishment, they thus become, absolutely unrestrained.--Having ever regarded Government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the suspension of its operations; and pray for nothing so much, as its total annihilation. While, on the other hand, good men, men who love tranquility, who desire to abide by the laws, and enjoy their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense of their country; seeing their property destroyed; their families insulted, and their lives endangered; their persons injured; and seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the better; become tired of, and disgusted with, a Government that offers them no protection; and are not much averse to a change in which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the operation of this mobocractic spirit, which all must admit, is now abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any Government, and particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be broken down and destroyed--I mean the attachment of the People. Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this Government cannot last. By such things, the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less alienated from it; and thus it will be left without friends, or with too few, and those few too weak, to make their friendship effectual. At such a time and under such circumstances, men of sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric, which for the last half century, has been the fondest hope, of the lovers of freedom, throughout the world.

I know the American People are much attached to their Government;--I know they would suffer much for its sake;--I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections from the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, "how shall we fortify against it?" The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;--let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap--let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;--let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

When I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws, let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, nor that grievances may not arise, for the redress of which, no legal provisions have been made.--I mean to say no such thing. But I do mean to say, that, although bad laws, if they exist, should be repealed as soon as possible, still while they continue in force, for the sake of example, they should be religiously observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible delay; but, till then, let them, if not too intolerable, be borne with.

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law. In any case that arises, as for instance, the promulgation of abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true; that is, the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the protection of all law and all good citizens; or, it is wrong, and therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in neither case, is the interposition of mob law, either necessary, justifiable, or excusable.

But, it may be asked, why suppose danger to our political institutions? Have we not preserved them for more than fifty years? And why may we not for fifty times as long?

We hope there is no sufficient reason. We hope all dangers may be overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise, would itself be extremely dangerous. There are now, and will hereafter be, many causes, dangerous in their tendency, which have not existed heretofore; and which are not too insignificant to merit attention. That our government should have been maintained in its original form from its establishment until now, is not much to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that period, which now are decayed, and crumbled away. Through that period, it was felt by all, to be an undecided experiment; now, it is understood to be a successful one.--Then, all that sought celebrity and fame, and distinction, expected to find them in the success of that experiment. Their all was staked upon it:-- their destiny was inseparably linked with it. Their ambition aspired to display before an admiring world, a practical demonstration of the truth of a proposition, which had hitherto been considered, at best no better, than problematical; namely, the capability of a people to govern themselves. If they succeeded, they were to be immortalized; their names were to be transferred to counties and cities, and rivers and mountains; and to be revered and sung, and toasted through all time. If they failed, they were to be called knaves and fools, and fanatics for a fleeting hour; then to sink and be forgotten. They succeeded. The experiment is successful; and thousands have won their deathless names in making it so. But the game is caught; and I believe it is true, that with the catching, end the pleasures of the chase. This field of glory is harvested, and the crop is already appropriated. But new reapers will arise, and they, too, will seek a field. It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?--Never! Towering genius distains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.--It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.

Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm; yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of pulling down.

Here, then, is a probable case, highly dangerous, and such a one as could not have well existed heretofore.

Another reason which once was; but which, to the same extent, is now no more, has done much in maintaining our institutions thus far. I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes of the revolution had upon the passions of the people as distinguished from their judgment. By this influence, the jealousy, envy, and avarice, incident to our nature, and so common to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were, for the time, in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive; while the deep-rooted principles of hate, and the powerful motive of revenge, instead of being turned against each other, were directed exclusively against the British nation. And thus, from the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature, were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents in the advancement of the noblest cause--that of establishing and maintaining civil and religious liberty.

But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with the circumstances that produced it.
I do not mean to say, that the scenes of the revolution are now or ever will be entirely forgotten; but that like every thing else, they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be read of, and recounted, so long as the bible shall be read;-- but even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it heretofore has been. Even then, they cannot be so universally known, nor so vividly felt, as they were by the generation just gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was, that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son or brother, a living history was to be found in every family-- a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related--a history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned.--But those histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength; but, what invading foeman could never do, the silent artillery of time has done; the leveling of its walls. They are gone.--They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-resistless hurricane has swept over them, and left only, here and there, a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its foliage; unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few gentle breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs, a few more ruder storms, then to sink, and be no more.

They were the pillars of the temple of liberty; and now, that they have crumbled away, that temple must fall, unless we, their descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us; but can do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason, cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason, must furnish all the materials for our future support and defence.--Let those materials be moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in particular, a reverence for the constitution and laws: and, that we improved to the last; that we remained free to the last; that we revered his name to the last; that, during his long sleep, we permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting place; shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken our WASHINGTON.

Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater institution, "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fifty Years Ago Today

Fifty years ago today, the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Aside from assorted segments on television news, the event marked the first time Americans saw them perform. That Sunday night on 9 February 1964, 73 million viewers tuned in to CBS. For many years, that evening's Ed Sullivan Show ruled as the most watched television broadcast in history.

It was the first of three consecutive appearances on the show.

The Beatles first performed an afternoon concert that CBS taped for a later broadcast on 23 February  1964.

That evening, the performed the live show that 73 millions watched.

The Beatles followed with a short concert tour of the east coast.

The following week on 16 February 1964 Ed Sullivan caught up with the Beatles again to broadcast his show live from the Deauville Hotel in Miami Beach, where the Beatles had scheduled one of their concert stops.

On February 23, after the Beatles completed their brief but successful tour, CBS broadcast that taped performance of  February 9.

The British invasion had begun!

Below is a video of that live evening performance of 9 February 1964.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Photo ID Not Required--Except When It Is

Today the Raleigh News and Observer reported  several thousand marchers gathered in Raleigh to protest the "repressive" policies enacted recently by the Republican controlled North Carolina state legislature. Sponsored by the North Carolina NAACP, the march included representatives from 150 progressive groups.(The North Carolina NAACP Facebook page announcing the event is here.)

The so-called "Moral March" was organized to push for a litany of progressive issues-- including affordable housing, expansion of Medicare, abortion rights, same sex marriage, legalization of medical marijuana, and voting rights.

The latter cause is most interesting. The organizers of the march oppose that most "repressive" of laws interfering with fundamental rights--the requirement that voters present photo identification at polling places.

It is most interesting because the organizers of the "Moral March" required photo identification from all participants.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Fifty Years Ago Today

Fifty years ago today, the Beatles arrived in America for a short concert tour of the east coast and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Sullivan's talent scouts actually had been aware of the Beatles for nearly a year. The scouts failed to appreciate their talent, however, but considered booking them as a humorous "novelty act." They thought American viewers might get a laugh at the longer, uncombed hair sported by the Beatles.

In October of 1963, Sullivan himself first heard of the Beatles. He visited Britain and found the London's Heathrow Airport overwhelmed with traffic, reporters, and people. Sullivan thought the Queen was arriving. When told it was the Beatles, he asked, "Who the hell are the Beatles?"

After arriving back in the United States, Sullivan eventually met with Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles. Epstein was in the country attempting to promote the then unknown band and to secure a company to distribute their recordings in the United States.

Sullivan booked the Beatles for three performances in consecutive weeks, two to be broadcast live and one to be taped.

On 7 February, 1964, the plane carrying the Beatles touched down at JFK airport, greeted by 200 journalist and 4,000 screaming fans.

Beatlemania arrived to America.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Barack Obama Sits Down for Tea Time

In a recent article in the New Yorker, President Barack Obama contributed to the "conversation on race" that his Attorney General, Eric Holder, declared Americans too cowardly to experience. Of course, he put his remarks in the context of the Tea Party driven opposition to his expansive--and expensive-- administration.

                                       The President as pictured in the New Yorker

In an interview with David Remnick, the President made the following observation:

 “There’s no doubt that there’s some folks who just really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black President. Now, the flip side of it is there are some black folks and maybe some white folks who really like me and give me the benefit of the doubt precisely because I’m a black President.”

Despite activity on the outrage meter driven by  various conservative pundits, it is difficult to imagine what constitutes  the controversy about that quote. Yes, there are plenty of Americans who would rather sit at home than vote for a black president. According to one  Gallup Poll a few months before the election 2012, about 4% of those interviewed admitted that they would not vote for a black president. 

And yes, many people would give him the benefit of the doubt because he was a black president. Gallup so far has been "too cowardly" to poll Americans on this question, but a cursory glance at MSNBC will provide enough impressionistic evidence to support the President's latter contention. 

What Obama's right hand giveth, however, the left hand taketh away.

Alluding to the Tea Party driven opposition,  the President remarked: 

 “You can be somebody who, for very legitimate reasons, worries about the power of the federal government—that it’s distant, that it’s bureaucratic, that it’s not accountable—and as a consequence you think that more power should reside in the hands of state governments. But what’s also true, obviously, is that philosophy is wrapped up in the history of states’ rights in the context of the civil-rights movement and the Civil War and Calhoun. There’s a pretty long history there. And so I think it’s important for progressives not to dismiss out of hand arguments against my Presidency or the Democratic Party or Bill Clinton or anybody just because there’s some overlap between those criticisms and the criticisms that traditionally were directed against those who were trying to bring about greater equality for African-Americans."

Obama notes that there is a "pretty long history" in which a political philosophy emphasizing states' rights was inextricably linked to a social philosophy of white racial supremacy.

It is a lack of historical perspective, however, that exactly characterizes the President's remarks as the nation's "historian-in-chief." 

Allusions to states' rights in  the 21st century different significantly from those same allusions in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

In the 18th century, the original opponents of the Constitution of 1787 remembered as "The Anti-federalists" objected to the new government on several grounds. First, they recognized that the new Constitution created a truly national government that, in specifically limited and enumerated powers, could act directly on the American citizens. They feared that this threatened the sovereignty of the states and the liberties of the people of the states. Second, they suspected that the larger electoral districts for the new Congress put electoral office beyond the reach of ordinary men. They feared the rise of a political class of elites or even aristocrats. 

These kinds of arguments were later embraced by the original Jeffersonian Republicans as they organized opposition to the administration of President George Washington and the economic policies of his Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton. Neither in the case of the "Anti-federalists" nor the Jeffersonian Republicans were the questions of slavery and racial supremacy paramount in their "states' rights" arguments.

That only occurred in the 19th century with the rise of the abolition movement and the controversy about the status of slavery in western territories of the United States. The American Civil War to a large degree settled these questions.

Granted, rhetoric based upon racist assumptions resurfaced during the era of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.  The issues on voting rights and segregation, too, have been long settled. 

The Tea Party Movement is not about rolling back any one's civil rights. If constitutional conservatives had any such intentions, they would have enjoyed better prospects of success when Republicans actually controlled the White House and both houses of Congress. I do not recall any efforts to do so.

The Tea Party Movement is about fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets.

To argue otherwise based upon clumsy historical analogies is more than ignorant.

Its dishonest.

Is anyone surprised?