Monday, June 29, 2015

Cokie Roberts Praises King's Bench

   Hat tip to Grabien.

       The Supreme Court is for our inability to self-govern, says Coked-Up Cokie Roberts.  The pundit says that the court exists "to take over from" the democratic process.  Because, you know, democracy just doesn't work fast enough for Ms. Roberts.
        Many of us realized that the Court of King's Bench can justify any ruling when we studied Griswold v. Connecticut/Roe v. Wade.  I mean, when the black-letter Constitution counts for absolutely nothing, what can't the King's Bench find a right to?  Abortion--just invent a Right to Privacy.  Gay Marriage--just say that everyone has a Constitutional right to do most anything they feel like.  It isn't about law.  It's about politics.  Ms. Roberts admits the same.  And if the electorate aren't advanced enough to get it done, do it by Praetorian Edict.  Because democracy, it just doesn't work fast enough!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

History Repeats Itself

       A favorite joke of the 30s:
       God goes to a psychiatrist's office.  God says, "You've got to help me, Doc.  I think I'm Franklin Delano Roosevelt."

Monday, June 01, 2015

Reverse Confederacy

       Confederalism is a type of government that associates a group of states under a government that is only as powerful as the member states wish.  The system of government established by the Articles of Confederation was a confederal government.  The Constitution of 1787 created something different:  a Federal government.  A Federal government consists of a group of states sovereign in most matters, but superintended by a general government that exercises supreme power over a few matters--namely, foreign policy and national defense.  The American Civil War was a struggle between confederal government and federal government.  The Confederate states basically believed that the Articles of Confederation should have remained the founding law of the United States.
       What the modern U.S. government has become is a reverse confederacy.  The Federal government is assumed sovereign in every area of government, and the states are often treated as mere proxies of the Federal government.  States are treated as tools of the Federal government.  Federal laws often dictate what tax revenue generated by the states will be spent on.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Liberal Puritanism

     A Clinton appointee to the Federal bench, Rosemary Pooler, ruled that the NY state DMV had the right to reject a pro-life license plate, even as it allowed other political plates, on the grounds that a pro-life plate was "offensive."  Personally, I find 95% of what Bill and Hillary Clinton say to be offensive.
         But this introduces a larger problem, this being the Puritanism of the Left.  So-called Liberals have all sorts of speech that make them uncomfortable.  You mustn't say anything that makes certain groups unhappy.  Protected groups include
                                                                    :gays
                                                                      drug addicts
                                                                      prostitutes  (Use "sex workers")
                                                                      violent criminals (e.g.  "Thug" now is equivalent to the                                                                                              n-word)
                                                                      midgets (little people? That's less offensive?)
                                                                      Environmentalists (Nota bene:  Ted Kazcynski was not one.)
                              If these statements seem arbitrary or silly, then you are a bigot, right?

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Quidnunckis

 How vain are mortal man's endeavours?
 (Said, at dame Elleot's, master Travers)
 Good Orleans dead!  in truth 'tis hard:
 Oh! may all statesmen die prepar'd
 I do foresee (and for foreseeing
 He equals any man in being)
 The army ne'er can be disbanded.
  --I with the king was safely landed.
  Ah friends!  great changes threat the land!
  All France and England at a stand!
There's Meroweis-- mark! strange work!
 And there's the Czar, and there's the Turk--
The Pope-- An India-merchant by
Cut short the speech with this reply:
All at a stand?  you see great changes?
Ah, sir!  you never saw the Ganges:
There dwells the nation of Quidnunckis
(So Monomotapa calls monkeys
On either bank from bough to bough,
They meet and chat (as we may now):
Whispers go round, they grin, they shrug,
They bow, they snarl, they scratch, they hug;
And, just as chance or whim provoke them,
They either bite their friends, or stroke them.
There have I seen some active prig,
To show his parts, bestride a twig:
Lord!  how the chatt'ring tribe admire!
Not that he's wiser, but he's higher:
All long to try the vent'rous thing,
(For power is but to have one's swing).
From side to side he springs, he spurns,
And bangs hisfoes and friends by turns.
Thus as in giddy freaks he bounces,
Crack goes the twig, and in he flounces!
Down the swift stream the wretch is borne;
Never, ah never, to return!
Zounds! whata fall had our dear brother!
Morbleu! cries one; and damme, t'other.
The nation gives a general screech;
None cocks his tail, none claws his breech;
Each trembles for the public weal,
And for a while forgets to steal.
Awhile all eyes intent and steady
Pursu him whirling down the eddy:
But, out of mind when out of view,
Some other mounts the twig anew;
And business on each monkey shore
Runs the same track it ran before.
          -John Gay

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ticket to Ride

       Why should a person rule over others?  Four basic reasons are usually given:
       1).  Nobility.  That is, a person should rule because of their heredity.  Examples were the Adams family, the Habsburgs, the Kennedys and so forth.

        2).Virtue.  A person rules due to moral behavior or personal courage.  The election of so many corrupt and dishonest people demonstrate the obsolescence of this concept.  Where it does exist, it often results in theocracies.

         3).Representation.  This line of thinking says that because everyone must live under the government, every group should be periodically in control of the reigns of power.  Coincidentally, Tom Holland opines that ordinary citizens be randomly added to the House of Lords in today's Independent.  A very current tendency, rule on the basis of race, gender or sexual orientation typically plays a large role, especially in urban politics.

          4).Qualification.  Because of personal talents or education, some are judged to merit office.  The main difficulty with this justification is in agreeing what experience or education are a proper preparation.  Rightists consider business and military service qualification.  Leftists often believe lawyers are supremely prepared for office.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Legislative Nostalgia, Part Five

       "Opposed to expansion in any form, {President Grover} Cleveland was a man of integrity, as well as shape, similar to Reed's.  Once, when mistaken for Cleveland in an ill-lit room, Reed said, 'Mercy!  Don't tell Grover.  He is too proud of his good looks already.'  Before he had been in office a week, Cleveland recalled the treaty of {Hawaii} annexation from the Senate, much to the distress of Reed's young friend, Roosevelt, who felt 'very strongly' about 'hauling down the flag,' as he called it.
       
       Reed was now at the zenith of his power.  The dangerous battle of his first term was long past and the guerilla warfare of two terms as minority leader over, leaving him with unlimited control.  'He commands everything by the brutality of his intellect,' said a member.  His well-drilled ranks, though occasionally, and as time went on, increasingly, restive, could not break the habit of obedience.  When the Speaker waved his hands upward members would stand as one man, and if by chance they rose to claim the floor when he wished them silent, a downward wave made them subside into their seats.  'He had more perfect control over the House than any other Speaker,' wrote Senator Cullom of Illinois.
       Stern on dignity and decorum, he permitted no smoking or shortsleeves and even challenged the cherished priviledge of feet on desk.  A member with particularly visible white socks who so far forgot himself as to resume that comfortable posture, received a message from the Chair, 'The Czar commands you to haul down those flags of truce.'
       With no favorites and no near rivals, he ruled alone.  Careful not to excite jealousy, he avoided even walking in public with a member.  Solitary, the stupendous figure ambled each morning from the old Shoreham Hotel (then on Fifteenth and H Streets), where he lived, to the Hill, barely nodding to greetings and unconscious of strangers who turned to stare at him in the street.
       He had a kind of 'tranquil greatness,' said a colleague, which evolved from a philosophy of his own and left him 'undisturbed by the ordinary worries and anxieties of life.'  Reed gave a clue to it one night when a friend came to discuss politics and found him reading Sir Richard Burton's Kasidah , from which he read aloud the lines:
                                                 Do what thy manhood bids thee do,
                                                 from none but self expect applause,
                                                 He noblest lives and noblest dies
                                                  who makes and keeps his self-made laws.
       Secure in his self-made laws, Reed could not be flustered.  Once a Democratic member, overruled y Reed on a point of order, remembered that the Speaker had taken a different position in his manual, Reed's Rules.  Hurriedly, he sent for the book, leafed through its pages, pounced on the relevant passage and marched to the rostrum in anticipatory triumph to lay it before the Speaker.  Reed read it attentively, cast a glance down at the man from his glowing hazel eyes and said with finality, 'Oh, the book is wrong.'
       During the Venezuela crisis he said little publicly, kept the Republicans in the House under firm control and trusted to Cleveland's basic antipathy for foreign adventure, which he shared, to withstand the Jingoes' eagerness to annex this and that.  Reed was unalterably opposed to expansion and all it implied.  He believed that American greatness lay at home and was to be achieved by improving living conditions and raising political intelligence among Americans rather than by extending American rule over half-civilized peoples difficult to assimilate.  To him the Republican party was the guardian of this principle and expansion was 'a policy no Republican ought to excuse much less adopt.'

       Reed could see the trend but he could not have changed himself.  'Some men like to stand erect,' he once said, 'and some men even after they are rich and high placed like to crawl.'
       When in a masterly speech he tore, trampled, and demolished free silver, which was less a question of currency than of class struggle, Roosevelt, filled with enthusiasm, wrote him, 'Oh Lord!  What would I not give if you were our standard-bearer.'  At times, however, Roosevelt confessed to being 'pretty impatient' with Reed, who would not satisfy his insistence on support of a big navy.  'Upon my word,' he complained to {Henry Cabot} Lodge, 'I do think that Reed ought to pay some heed to the wishes of you and myself.'  It was a vain hope to express of a man who was not given to 'heeding' anyone's wishes.  To Lodge's annoyance, Reed also refused 'to promise offices from the Cabinet down or spend money to secure Southern delegates.'  Hanna, well supplied with funds, was busy in the South collecting white and Negro Republican delegates who were for sale.  'They were for me until the buying started,' Reed said.

       Still firm in command of the Republican members, Reed could subdue any unhealthy lust among them for annexation, but as Speaker he was bound to pilot {McKinley} Administration policy through the House.  The question was, what was Administration policy:  the soft reluctance of McKinley or the 'outward' drive of Lodge and Roosevelt powered by the ideas of Mahan and the persuasions of the sugar trust?  The answer came in June, when a new treaty of annexation was concluded with the Hawaiian government, signed by McKinley and sent to the Senate for ratification.  Although there was little likelihood of assembling two-thirds of the Senate in favor of it, the anti-expansionists were worried.  Carl Schurz, whom McKinley, always anxious to please, had earlier assured of his disinterest in Hawaii, faced him with the issue after dinner in the White House, over cigars.  Very uncomfortable, McKinley pleaded that he had sent the treaty to the Senate only to get an expression of opinion.  Nevertheless, Schurz said somewhat nervously that the treaty marked 'an end to the historic policy of the Republic since its foundation. . . and will mean its gradual evolution into a less peaceful and possibly militant power.'
       With regard to Cuba, the country was becoming increasingly excited.  Reed regarded the Hearst-fabricated furor over Spain's oppression with contempt and Republican espousal of Cuba's cause as hypocrisy.  He saw his party losing its moral integrity and becoming a party of political expediency in response to the ignorant clamor of the mob.  Without compunction he suppressed the resolution recognizing the belligerence of the 'Republic' of Cuba.  He too took to the magazines to argue against expansion--in an article whose title, 'Empire Can Wait,' became a rallying cry for the opponents of Hawaii's annexation.  It spoke the awful name;  as yet the outright words 'empire' and 'imperialism,' which connoted the scramble for Africa then at its peak among the European powers, had not been used in the United States.  James Bryce, perhaps the only Englishman who could have been allowed to give advice, urged Americans to have nothing to do with a policy of annexation.  America's remote position and immense power, he wrote in the Forum, freed her from the burden of armaments crushing the European powers.  Her mission in the world was 'to show the older peoples and states an example of abstention from the quarrels and wars and conquests that make up so large and lamentable a part of the annals of Europe.'  To yield to the 'earth-hunger' now raging among the European states would be 'a complete departure from the maxims of the illustrious founders of the republic.'  Behind his sober words could be sensed the love a man feels for the object of his life's work and a pleading to America not to contradict the promise that hung about her birth."  The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman, pgs. 130-31,141-42, 144,148-49.