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Thursday, September 03, 2015

Legislative Nostalgia, Part Six

From the Carthage (IL) Republican, (which, ironically, favored the Democratic party):

The nomination of Hon. Thomas B. Reed for speaker by the republican caucus was forseen a year ago, and only a languid interest can attach to that circumstance.  What he would say in accepting the nomination, equivalent to an election, could not be anticipated.  Reed is a humorist, as well as a despot, and is, or has been, capable of surprised.  It was, therefore, by no means certain that a man of his nimble wit might not say something readable in his speech.
        Power, however, brings responsibility, and responsibility begets conservatism.  There is little of the flavor of the Romanoff in the czar's latest utterances.  Not only has he a lively recollection of the manner in which he wrecked his party in the session of congress which began six years ago, but he is now {1896}a candidate for the presidency.  Somehow it has come to be a sort of axiom among the theological disputants of a former age, in their frank and free ecclesiastical billingsgate, called "dumb dogs," are available for presidential nominations.  When it is not possible for them to be wholly dumb, they open their mouths to enumerate platitudes or deal in generalities that are absolutely unintelligible in their application to current problems.
       Mr. Reed was Delphic from the beginning of his speech.  Returning thanks for the honor was purely prefunctory, and it was lukewarm, as became a man who knew that no real opposition could have been offered, and who also doubted in his heart whether this nomination would make or mar him.  But his next sentence was constructed with admirable art to leave the hearer in doubt.  "History," said he, "will accord us praise for what we did in the 51st congress, and it may accord us praise in this for what we do not do."
       This is not the note of the Reed of six years ago.  "High-reaching Buckingham grows circumspect."  He talks now of a divided government, of small results, and warns his party of the danger of crude and hasty legislation.  Can this be the man who thanked God that the house of representatives was no longer a deliberative body?  But what does Mr. Reed mean by "history?"  Has not the 51st congress already passed into history?  Has not the judgment of the people been passed upon it over and over, and always in condemnation?  Does Mr. Reed desire to appeal from the judgment of 1890, 1891 and 1892 to that of the next century?  He cannot appeal to 1894 and 1895, for the work of his congress was not then in issue.
       When Mr. Reed said that if the republicans had possession of all branches of the government they would possibly not create a perfect world, but that they would make a world more fit to live in than the one we have at present, we recognize a touch, faint, indeed, of his old humor.  But even back of the humor there is a suggestion, not quite so faint, of that partnership with God which the republicans have always claimed as the peculiar characteristic of their party.  Every intelligent man in the country knows full well that if this part of the world is not so pleasant to live in as it once was, the difference is due to the legislation of the 51st congress to a greater extent than to any other cause.
       It would be interesting to know for what Mr. Reed thinks the country will accord praise to the 51st congress?  Is it for the McKinley bill?  If so, Maj. McKinley is the logical candidate for 1896, and Mr. Reed's aspirations to the presidency are an impertinence.  Is it for the Sherman silver purchase act, which by confession of republicans brought on the panic?  Then why did Mr. Sherman and Mr. Reed urge its repeal?  Is it for the passage of the force bill by the house?  If so, why do republicans now say there will never be another force bill?  These were the measures which occupied most of the time of the 51st congress, and if they give it a standing in history, then history will be singularly deaf to contemporary evidence.
       As to the question of revenue Mr. Reed is equally enigmatical.  He says that all parties will maintain the rigor of the house to initiate taxation, which is true in a general way of everybody but the senate, which has frequently provoked remonstrance by originating measures of taxation under the pretext of proposing amendments. He then says that no man can doubt that the majority of the house will furnish adequate revenue for the government, "according to our sense of public duty."  This last clause makes the whole sentence ambiguous.  Unfortunately, there are a good many men who not only can but do doubt whether the house will furnish revenue according to the sense of public duty of the majority.  Many of us would move to strike out the words and substitute "according to their sense of personal or party interest."-- Louisville Courier-Journal

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tory Manifestos

       "The Aristocracy of England have had for three centuries the exercise of power;  for the last century and a half that exercise has been uncontrolled;  they form at this moment the most prosperous class that the history of the world can furnish:  as rich as the Roman senators, with sources of convenience and enjoyment which modern science could alone supply.  All this is not denied.  Your order stands before Europe the most gorgeous of existing spectacles;  though you have of late years dexterously thrown some of the odium of your polity upon that middle class which you despise, and who are despicable only because they imitate you, your tenure of power is not in reality impaired.  You govern us still with absolute authority--and you govern the most miserable people on the face of the globe.  Disraeli, Sybil ,p.195
       "Here too was brought forth that monstrous conception which even patrician Rome in its most ruthless period never equalled--the mortgaging of the industry of the country to enrich and to protect property;  and act which is bringing its retributive consequences in a degraded and alienated population.  Here too have the innocent been impeached and hunted to death;  and a virtuous and able monarch martyred, because, among other benefits projected for his people, he was of opinion that it was more for their advantage that the economic service of the State should be supplied by direct taxation levied by an individual known to all, than by indirect taxation, raised by an irresponsible and fluctuating assembly.  But, thanks to parliamentary patriotism, the people of England were saved from ship-money, which money the wealthy paid, and only got in its stead the customs and excise, which the poor mainly supply.  Rightly was King Charles {I.} surnamed the Martyr;  for he was the holocaust of direct taxation.  Never yet did man lay down his heroic life for so great a cause:  the cause of the Church and the cause of the Poor."  Disraeli, Sybil, p.198
       "But we forget, Sir Robert Peel is not the leader of the Tory party;  the party that resisted the ruinous mystification that metamorphosed direct taxation by the Crown into indirect taxation by the Commons;  that denounced the system that mortgaged industry to protect property;  the party that ruled Ireland by a scheme which reconciled both Churches, and by a series of Parliaments which counted among them Lords and Commons of both religions;  that has maintained at all times the territorial constitution of England as the only basis and security for local government, and which nevertheless once laid on the table of the House of Commons a commercial tariff negotiated at Utrecht, which is the most rational that was ever devised by statesmen;  a party that has prevented the Church from being the salaried agent of the State, and has supported through many struggles the parochial polity of the country which secures to every labourer a home.
       In a parliamentary sense, that great party has ceased to exist;  but I will believe that it still lives in the thought and sentiment and consecrated memory of the English nation.  It has its origin in great principles and in noble instincts;  it sympathizes with the lowly, it looks up to the Most High;  it can count its heroes and its martyrs;  they have met in its behalf plunder, proscription, and death.  Nor, when it finally yielded to the iron progress of oligarchical supremacy, was its catastrophe inglorious.  Its genius was vindicated in golden sentences and with fervent arguments of impassioned logic by St. John;  and breathed in the intrepid eloquence and patriot soul of William Wyndham.  Even now it is not dead, but sleepeth;  and, in an age of political materialism, of confused purposes and perplexed intelligence, that aspires only to wealth because it has faith in no other accomplishment, as men rifle over which Bolingbroke shed his last tear, to bring back strength to the Crown, liberty to the subject, and to announce that power has only one duty--to secure the social welfare of the PEOPLE." Disraeli, Sybil ,pgs. 233-34.
       "The great object of the Whig leaders in England from the first movement under Hampden to the last most successful one in 1688, was to establish in England a high aristocratic republic on the model of the Venetian, then the study and admiration of all speculative politicians.  Read Harrington;  turn over Algernon Sydney;  then you will see how the minds of the English leaders in the seventeenth century were saturated with the Venetian type. .  . .George I. was a Doge;  George II. was a Doge;  they were what William III., a great man, would not be.  George III. tried not to be a Doge, but it was impossible materially to resist the deeply-laid combination.  And a Venetian constitution did govern England from the Accession of the House of Hanover until 1832."  Benjamin Disraeli, Coningsby , Book V, Chapter Two 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lord Shelburne, Part Three

       "That age of economical statesmanship which Lord Shelburne had predicted in 1787, when he demolished, in the House of Lords, Bishop Watson and the Balance of Trade, which Mr. Pitt had comprehended;  and for which he was preparing the nation when the French Revolution diverted the public mind into a stronger and more turbulent current, was again impending, while the intervening history of the country had been prolific in events which had aggrevated the necessity of investigating the sources of the wealth of nations.

       It was to be an age of abtruse disquisition, that required a compact and sinewy intellect, nurtured in a class of learning not yet honoured in colleges, and which might arrive at conclusions conflicting with predominant prejudices."  Benjamin Disraeli, Coningsby Book II, Chapter One

Monday, August 10, 2015

Citizen Kane Intervention

       Suppose a liberal was very rich, and a close personal friend to the Clintons.  He has made himself a recognizable celebrity with a no-nonsense reputation.  Suppose also that he has never said anything that would be classified as conservative more than two years in the past.  Is it reasonable to think that he might spout some incendiery pseudo-conservative bunk about illegal aliens as part of an attempt to divert attention away from credible conservatives with a real chance of winning?
          Some conservatives need an intervention when it comes to Citizen Kane.  Unfortunately, this group includes talk show hosts like Michael Savage and Mark Levin.  Donald Trump has never been elected to a school board.  He has never been mayor of a town.  He certainly has never been in Congress or the Senate.  What makes anyone think his policy ideas are worth 2 cents?  Trump's supporters have focused their attention on Fox News and Megyn Kelly, as though they are involved in some kind of left-wing plot to get Hillary Clinton elected.  Bullshit!  There's no nicer way to put it.
         Is Dr. Ben Carson a liberal?  Is Rick Santorum a liberal?  Is Rand Paul a liberal?  Is Ted Cruz a liberal?  Estase just listed four candidates, all with conservative reputations extending further back than two years.  Two of these men are members of the Senate.  Another is a veteran Congressman.  All but Dr. Carson have actually made laws and policy.  It isn't a credible claim that there are two Republican choices, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.  That's an absurd false dichotomy.  It's also a prevalent theme of Trump supporters.   Donald Trump is a liberal buffoon who is taking well-meaning conservatives for a ride by pretending to be something he isn't.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lord Shelburne, Part Two

       "Such was the man selected by George the Third as his champion against the Venetian party, after the termination of the American War.  The prosecution of that war they had violently opposed, though it had originated in their own policy.  First minister in the House of Lords, Shelburne entrusted the lead in the House of Commons to his Chancellor of the Exchequer, the youthful Pitt.  The administration was brief, but it was not inglorious.  It obtained peace, and, for the first time since the Revolution, introduced into modern debate the legitimate principles on which commerce should be conducted.  It fell before the famous Coalition with which 'the Great Revolution families' commenced their fiercest and their last contention for the patrician government of royal England.
       In the heat of that great strife, the king, in the second hazardous exercise of his prerogative, entrusted the perilous command to Pitt.  Why Lord Shelburne on that occasion was set aside, will perhaps always remain a mysterious passage of our political history, nor have we space on the present occasion to attempt to penetrate its motives.  Perhaps the monarch, with a sense of the rising sympathies of his people, was prescient of the magic power of youth in touching the heart of a nation. Yet it would not be an unprofitable speculation, if for a moment we paused to consider what might have been the consequences to our country if Mr. Pitt had been content for a season again to lead the Commons under Lord Shelburne, and to have secured for England the unrivalled knowledge and dexterity of that statesman in the conduct of our affairs during the confounding fortunes of the French Revolution.  Lord Shelburne was the only English minister competent to the task;  he was the only public man who had the previous knowledge requisite to form accurate conclusions on such a conjuncture;  his remaining speeches on the subject attest the amplitude of his knowledge and the accuracy of his views;  and in the rout of Jena, or the agony of Austerlitz, one cannot refrain from picturing the shade of Shelburne haunting the Cabinet of Pitt, as the ghost of Canning is said occasionally to linger about the Speaker's chair, and smile sarcastically on the conscientious mediocrities who pilfered his hard-earned honours."  Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil,p.16-17 (Wordsworth ed.)

Lord Shelburne, Part One

      " It could no longer be concealed that, by virtue of a plausible phrase, power had been transferred from the Crown to a Parliament, the members of which were appointed by an extremely limited and exclusive class, who owned no responsibility to the country, who debated and voted in secret, and who were regularly paid by the small knot of great families that by this machinery had secured the permanent possession of the king's treasury.  Whiggism was putrescent in the nostrils of the nation;  we were probably on the eve of a bloodless yet important revolution;  when Rockingham, a virtuous magnifico, alarmed and disgusted, resolved to revive something of the pristine purity and high-toned energy of the old Whig connection, appealed to his 'new generation' from a degenerate age, arrayed under his banner the generous youth of the Whig families, and was fortunate to enlist in the service the supreme genius of Edmund Burke.

       No sooner had a young and dissolute noble{C.J. Fox}, who, with some of the aspirations of a Caesar, oftener realised the conduct of a Catiline, appeared on the stage, and after some inglorious tergiversation adopted their colours, than they transferred to him the command which had been won by wisdom and genius, vindicated by unrivalled knowledge and adorned by accomplished eloquence.  When the hour arrived for the triumph which he had prepared, he was not even admitted into the Cabinet, virtually presided over by his graceless pupil, and who, in the profuse suggestions of his teeming converse, had found the principles and the information which were among the chief claims to public confidence of Mr. Fox.

       To understand Mr. Pitt, one must understand one of the suppressed characters of English history, and that is Lord Shelburne.  When the fine genius of the injured Bolingbroke, the only peer of his period who was educated, and proscribed by the oligarchy because they were afraid of his eloquence, 'the glory of his order and the shame,' shut out from Parliament, found vent in those writings which recalled to the English people the inherent blessings of their old free monarchy, and painted in immortal hues his picture of a patriot king, the spirit that he raised at length touched the heart of Carteret, born a Whig, yet sceptical of the advantages of that patrician constitution which made the Duke of Newcastle, the most incompetent of men, but the chosen leader of the Venetian party, virtually sovereign of England.  Lord Carteret had many brilliant qualities:  he was undaunted, enterprising, eloquent;  had considerable knowledge of continental politics, was a great linguist, a master of public law;  and though he failed in his premature effort to terminate the dogeship of George the Second, he succeeded in maintaining a considerable though secondary position in public life.  The young Shelburne married his daughter.  Of him it is singular we know less than of his father-in-law, yet from the scattered traits some idea may be formed of the ablest and most accomplished minister of the eighteenth century.  Lord Shelburne, influenced probably by the example and the traditionary precepts of his eminent father-in-law, appears early to have held himself aloof from the patrician connection, and entered public life as the follower of Bute in the first great effort of George the Third to rescue the sovereignty from what Lord Chatham called 'the Great Revolution families.'  He became in time a member of Lord Chatham's last administration;  one of the strangest and most unsuccessful efforts to aid the grandson of George the Second in his struggle for political emancipation.  Lord Shelburne adopted from the first the Bolingbroke system;  a real royalty, in lieu of the chief magistracy;  a permanent alliance with France, instead of the Whig scheme of viewing in that power the natural enemy of England;  and, above all, a plan of commercial freedom, the germ of which may be found in the long-maligned negotiations of Utrecht, but which, in the instance of Lord Shelburne, were soon in time matured by all the economical science of Europe, in which he was a proficient.  Lord Shelburne seems to have been of a reserved and somewhat astute disposition:  deep and adroit, he was however brave and firm.  His knowledge was extensive and even profound.  He was a great linguist;  he pursued both literary and scientific investigations;  his house was frequented by men of letters, especially those distinguished by their political abilities or economical attainments.  He maintained the most extensive private correspondence of any public man of his time.  The earliest and most authentic information reached him from all Courts and quarters of Europe;  and it was a common phrase, that the minister of the day sent to him often for the important information which the Cabinet could not itself command.  Lord Shelburne was the first great minister who comprehended the rising importance of the middle class, and foresaw in its future power a bulwark for the throne against 'the Great Revolution families.'  Of his qualities in council we have no record;  there is reason to believe that his administrative ability was conspicuous;  his speeches prove that, if not supreme, he was eminent, in the art of parliamentary disputation, while they show on all the questions discussed a richness and variety of information, with which the speeches of no statesman of that age except Mr. Burke can compare." Benjamin Disraeli, Sybil, Pgs. 13, 14,15-16. (Wordsworth ed.)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Death Cult

       Now that it has come to light that not only does Planned Parenthood sell abortions, they sell body parts, the morally deficient among us are either ignoring the revelations or making banal excuses for the eugenic organization.
       Has Citizen Kane (i.e.--Donald Trump), who we are all told is so conservative, so much as mentioned this disgusting practice?  In spite of the fraud's non-position on harvesting fetal body parts, fellow reality-show star Sarah Palin calls him a "hero."  Trump is a hero for pandering to those who are hysterical about illegal immigrants?
       Bowling-for-abortion CNN host Sally Kohn complains that these complaints about the Margaret Sanger cult are the result of "patriarchy" and "white supremacy."   Let me get this straight:  75% of black pregnancies end in abortion, but those who object to this statistic are white supremacists?  I know that Atlantic magazine thinks that pro-lifers are racist, but it still beggars my mind how reducing the black population is pro-black.  Is it simply that racism is the favorite cri de coeur of CNN, or does Sally Kohn actually believe such an outrageous claim?  It is often hard to discern, in this age of sound bites and Twitter accounts, whether people are in earnest when they say things, or whether they simply need attention from an easily distracted public.
       It was something of a scandal a few years ago when a mortician and a dentist ran a scam selling bone and tissue from dead bodies for use in plastic surgery.  At least the victims of that scam were already dead.  Profiting from death not once, but twice, looks morally abominable to those with a sense for such things.  Sally Kohn just sees feminism and non-racism.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Price? No man can say!

    In the classic 1940 Orson Welles movie "Citizen Kane", a fictionalized life of William Randolph Hearst, the main character Charles Foster Kane inherits a massive fortune.  Kane uses this fortune to become a crusading newspaperman.  Kane runs for office, even though he has no political principles.  He romances beautiful women, one of whom he has the bad judgment to try to make an opera singer with his money, even though she has no talent.  Kane spends a lifetime unsuccessfully trying to buy himself happiness, always failing because he has no real identity.
        If Donald Trump is anything, he is a real-life Charles Foster Kane.  He is a man with enormous wealth, which he has put to no good use.  He is a chronic womanizer (remember Bill Clinton?).  He has a record of being a Democratic supporter and abortion rights advocate, which he now seems to have conveniently forgotten.  And as savvy an observer as Michael Savage actually supports this buffoon because now he says he opposes illegal immigration?  Trump should go back to building Xanadu for himself, because the man has no business in politics.
       Update:  Assclown Donald Trump insults the service of Senator John McCain by suggesting that draft-dodging (which is what the Donald did) is better service than being tortured by Communists for five years.  Citizen Kane just keeps getting worse.