Cookie Consent

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Citizen Kane and the Constitutional Crisis

       In the wake of an obvious terror attack in San Bernadino, CA, our Attorney General, Loretta "Worse than Holder" Lynch vows to infringe the First Amendment rights of Americans on behalf of Muslims.   Gee, it's not like Senate Republicans knew Loretta Lynch would ignore the law, or anything.  Loretta Lynch admitted she would ignore our current immigration laws during her confirmation hearings.  Her predecessor ignored DOMA and the federal narcotics laws by allowing states to ignore Federal laws banning marijuana.  Lawlessness is the defining characteristic of the Obama Justice Department.  Yes, the responsibility partly lies with the Obama Administration.  But if "Republican" Senators like Illinois' Mark Kirk would do their job of judicial oversight, the Obama Administration would not be so audacious in ignoring not only the statutory law, but even the Constitution itself.   There are three basic branches to the government, but current constitutional practice is turning the legislative branch into an irrelevance, and the judicial branch into a puppet of the executive branch.  As for the regulatory branch (e.g. EPA, etc.) the legislative branch has ceded so much of its involvement that the presidency is, in fact, becoming the liberal dream of an elected monarchy.
       Unfortunately, GOP front runner Donald Trump seems also to be totally on-board with the presidency being an elected monarchy.  One of the side effects of The Donald's having no knowledge of politics is that he has no political theory at all.  He doesn't know the Constitution from a hole in the ground, and thus he is not making an issue of how the balance of powers has been perverted in this country since 2001.   Citizen Kane is a total fraud who is taking advantage of how bland and boring his competition is.  If Scott Walker and Bobby Jindal had more stage presence, they might be on their way to the Oval Office.  We aren't electing a host for the Tonight Show, people.  Get a grip, and realize that a time of great national danger is no time for an amateur president.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Seventy Mayo Surnames

       This is a first for Q.E.D.  Estase thought about creating a separate blog just for genealogy, but doesn't intend that this should be material presented more than just occasionally.  The following is a miscellany of surnames from church records of Kilcoman, County Mayo.  These names were noted either because they seemed unusual in spelling or unique to me in some other way.  The dates of the records they were found in were approximately 1820-1840.


*These names were entered into the records using the habit from the elegant eighteenth of writing or printing a double-S as "fs".

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Bill O'Reilly Agrees With Salon

          Going to Reagan White House malcontent Donald Regan and Kitty Kelley for research about Ronald Reagan seems like bad journalism to me.  But it is just what Bill O'Reilly did with his new book "Killing Reagan," which should have been called "Killing Reagan's Reputation."  When comparing the attitudes of conservative pundits towards Ronald Reagan, William F. Buckley was considerably more impressed with the Gipper than was George Will, who tended to think Reagan left something to be desired as a statesman.  (This is a Will ideosyncracy.  Will loves conservatism, and thinks few exemplify it.)  So for Bill O'Reilly to act as though Will is an uncritical apologist for Reagan, going so far as to call Will "a hack," shows that not only is O'Reilly a poor journalist, he is also a hypocrite of the worst kind.  The same guy who thinks it's all right to act as though his audience are the only American patriots, selling "American Patriot" merchandise off his website, now has the temerity to insult George Will?  Now O'Reilly has the same verdict on Will as ueber-leftist Salon magazine.  Let's see how this partnership works out, folks.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Lose Control

Refrain:Lose control
             With increasing pace
             Watched and bewitched
             Intent to erase
             Whatever they say
             These people are told
             Wan and bereft
             And set to explode

First Verse:  War is overdue
                    The time has come for you
                     To shoot your leaders down
                     Join forces underground
Second Verse:  Oppose and disagree
                       Destroy demonocracy
-------------------(Repeat Refrain)-----------

Performed by MUSE

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Political Idealism from Lord Monmouth

       "I have for a long time looked upon the Conservative party as a body who have betrayed their trust;  more from ignorance, I admit, than from design;  yet clearly a body of individuals totally unequal to the exigencies of the epoch, and indeed unconscious of its real character. . . .Power has left our order, this is not an age for factitious aristocracy. . . .Let me see property acknowledging, as in the old days of {Catholic} faith, that labour is his twin brother, and that the essence of all tenure is the performance of duty."  Benjamin Disraeli, Coningsby, Chapter Three

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Political Idealism

     "But I cannot find that it is part of my duty to maintain the order of things, for I will not call it system, which at present prevails in our country.  It seems to me that it cannot last, as nothing can endure, or ought to endure, that is not founded upon principle;  and its principle I have not discovered. . . .Every session of that Parliament in which you wish to introduce me, the method by which power is distributed is called in question, altered, patched up, and again impugned. . . .Our morals differ in different counties, in different towns, in different streets, even in different Acts of Parliament.  What is moral in London is immoral in Montacute;  what is crime among the multitude is only vice among the few. . . .I see nothing in this fresh development of material industry, but fresh causes of moral deterioration.  You have announced to the millions that their welfare is to be tested by the amount of their wages.  Money is to be the cupel of their worth, as it is of all other classes.  You propose for their conduct the least ennobling of all impulses.  If you have seen an aristocracy invariably become degraded under such influence;  if all the vices of a middle class may be traced to such an absorbing motive;  why are we to believe that the people should be more pure, or that they should escape the catastrophe of the policy that confounds the happiness with the wealth of nations?"- Benjamin Disraeli, Tancred, Chapter Seven 

Whig Church

"Tadpole was wont to say in confidence, that for his part he wished Sir Robert had left alone religion and commerce, and confined himself to finance, which was his forte as long as he had a majority to carry the projects which he found in the pigeon-holes of the Treasury, and which are always at the service of every minister."

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Trump Narrenschiff

       Nothing vital has changed in the last two weeks on Citizen Kane.  Other than Rick Perry and Scott Walker, two actual conservatives, having left the GOP field, little has transpired in the presidential race.   Large numbers of highly deluded conservatives still regard Citizen Kane as the nation's only hope.   This group includes Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage.   Ann Coulter, the pundit for those who lack a gag reflex, has not only joined this group, but has led the pack in pure stupidity.  Coulter asked "how many f*cking Jews" were in the country, making (in her view) Israel an issue for no good reason.  Anti-semitism. . . .check!   Then she went on a tear about Pope Karl.  Those who have read Q.E.D. know that Estase is far from enthusiastic about the direction Pope Karl has taken the Church.   All the same, when Ann Coulter opined that it was right for nativists to deny Catholics the vote, and went further to say that Catholicism only became acceptable when it stopped being Roman and started being American, Estase wanted to chuck it all and register as a Democrat.  Really?  Leaving aside the character of the current pontiff, this is just about as Jack Chick a thing as I've ever heard anywhere.  The Catholic Church is led by a Pope.  The Pope's home is Rome.  The political structure of the Catholic hierarchy is based on ancient Rome.  There is no such thing as American Catholicism, just as there is no such thing as German Catholicism or Italian Catholicism.  Look up the word "catholic," Ms. Coulter.  "He had catholic interests."  "His sympathies were catholic."  Catholic means universal, dumbass!  Now that Ann Coulter has appealed to bottom-feeding troglodyte Catholic-haters, what more needs to be done to quash Republican hopes for 2016?  Maybe Coulter can say that blacks need to be shipped back to Africa?  Are you kidding me?  How will Citizen Kane get elected, now that his acolytes have insulted hispanics, Jews, and now Catholics?   Kiss the pro-life Catholic vote goodbye, Donald.

         On a lighter, and completely different topic, Estase has been thinking of a horror movie that could also be considered film noir--the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho.  It starts out as a crime caper, where Marion Crane leaves her husband and steals a fortune from her employer.  Thus, you have the film noir theme of a bad guy versus a horrible guy.  Crane thinks she has the monopoly on dirty dealing, but doesn't realize that her motel is run by someone with and Oedipal complex and a split personality.  Then you have the private dick Arbogast, who was pretty hardboiled, but completely unprepared for Norman Bates.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Vlad Typische

       The Saudis refuse to accept any Syrian refugees, but offer to build 200 mosques in Germany.  That's big of them.  Assuredly, they will also provide Wahabi clerics to staff them.  Germany--once the home of Nazi Jew-haters, soon to be the home of Muslim Jew-haters.  Some things never change.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Thought for the Day

"I would only wish that equality in politics consisted of everyone being equally free and not, as one hears so often in our days, of everyone being subjugated to the same master."
                                                    Alexis deTocqueville

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.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Protecting Atavism

       Estase has a theory about why the Obama administration is reluctant to damage the Daesh (ISIS/ISIL).  1)  Obama's best friend in the region is Erdogan of Turkey.  Erdogan is the most likely beneficiary of a new caliphate.  2) Obama was supportive of rebels fighting Bashir al-Assad three years ago.  These rebels are what we now know as ISIS. 3) Under Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton deliberately destabilized the governments of both Egypt, under Hosni Mubarak, and Libya, under Muammar Khadafi.  Obama and Clinton, however, have avoided responsibility for the chaos that has engulfed both countries in the absence of Mubarak and Khadafi.  What's more, Estase read a book on the Yugoslav civil war in the 90s that pointed out that Khadafi was a voice for moderation on the part of Muslims in Yugoslavia, a voice that, unfortunately, was ignored.  The one-time backer of terrorism had apparently mellowed with age, which is probably why he was a target for politicians looking to strengthen the hand of radical Islam.  The Benghazi debacle was a modest price to pay for helping the Daesh.
      In the wake of the Tunesia attack, Obama tried to prevent military action by the United Kingdom against the Daesh.  Is there any more telling evidence that Obama strengthened this group?  When Egypt and Jordan attacked ISIS, Obama opposed that action, too.  At the risk of being called a conspiracy theorist, why would a group of premodern butchers find a protecting hand in the White House?

Update:  Petasus tip to Rick Wells.  Lt. General Michael Flynn (USA, ret.), former head of the Defense Information Agency, opines that ISIS were fostered by the U.S. government.

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
                                                                      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.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Legislative Nostalgia, Part Four

       "The secret of his self-possession, as he told a friend long afterward, was that he had his mind absolutely made up as to what he would do if the House did not sustain him.  'I would simply have left the Chair and resigned the Speakership and my seat in Congress.'  He had a place waiting for him for the private practice of law in Elihu Root's New York firm, and 'I had made up my mind that if political life consisted in sitting helpless to pass legislation, I had enough of it and was ready to step down and out.'  Coming to such a decision, he said, 'you have made yourself equal to the worst' and are ready for it.  This has a very 'soothing' effect on the spirit.
       It did more than soothe:  it gave him an embedded strength which men who fear the worst , or will yield principles to avoid the worst, can never possess.  It endowed him with a moral superiority over the House which members without knowing why could sense in the atmosphere.
       Now the Democrats, changing their strategy, decided to absent themselves in actuality, counting on the inability of the Republicans to round up a quorum of themselves alone.  As one by one the Democrats slipped out, Reed, divining their intention, ordered the doors locked.  At once there followed a mad scramble to get out before the next vote.  Losing 'all sense of personal or official dignity,'  Democrats hid under desks and behind screens.  Representative Kilgore of Texas, kicking open a locked door to make his escape, made 'Kilgore's Kick' the delight of cartoonists.
       On the fifth day, the Democrats absented themselves altogether and when a vote was called the Republicans were still short of a quorum.  Two of their number were brought in on cots from their sickbeds.  There was still one too few.  One member was known to be on his way to Washington.  Suddenly a door opened, and, as a reporter told it, 'there was a flash of red whiskers and a voice saying, 'One more, Mr. Speaker.' ' Sweney of Iowa was counted in, the quorum was filled, and the vote recorded at 166-0.  The battle was over.  Democrats sullenly filed back to their seats.  The Rules Committee reported out a new set of rules, composed, needless to say, and imposed by the Chairman.  Known thereafter as 'Reed's Rules and adopted on February 14, they provided among other things that (1)all members must vote;  (2)one hundred shall constitute a quorum;  (3)all present shall be counted;  and (4)no dilatory motion shall be entertained and the definition of what is dilatory to be left to the judgment of the Speaker.
       Five years later Theodore Roosevelt wrote that in destroying the silent filibuster, Reed's reform was of 'far greater permanent importance' than any piece of legislation it brought to enactment at the time.  Reed knew this as soon as he had won.  In his speech closing the Fifty-first Congress he said that 'the verdict of history' was the only one worth recording and he was confident of its outcome 'because we have taken here so long a stride in the direction of responsible government.'
      More immediate than a verdict by history, and, indeed, then widely considered its equivalent, was a portrait by Sargent.  Commissioned as a tribute to the Speaker by his Republican colleagues, it was a memorable failure.  'He is supposed to be in the act of counting a quorum,' a critic observed, 'but in fact has just been inveigled into biting a green persimmon.'
       The death of the silent quorum was discussed in parliamentary bodies all over the world.  At home it made Reed a leading political figure and obvious candidate for the Presidential nomination in 1892.  But his time had not yet come, as he correctly judged, for when asked if he thought his party would nominate him, he replied, 'They might do worse and I think they will.'
       They did.  Reed's 'czardom' was still resented and his sarcasm had not made friends.  Nor did his disgust for deals, his refusal to woo the public with smiles and handshakes, or politicians with promises, enlarge his circle of supporters.  The party regulars preferred to nominate the incumbent Harrison, incorruptible but sour, known as the 'White House Iceberg,'  whom Reed disliked with no concealment whatever.  When Harrison appointed as Collector of Portland, Reed's home town, a man Reed despised, he thereafter refused to enter the White House or meet Harrison until the day he died.
       When, in 1892, the Democrats won control of the House by so large a majority that they could always assemble a quorum among themselves, they triumphantly threw out Reed's reform.  He waited for history, not without some faith, as he use to say, that 'the House has more sense than anyone in it.'  History did not keep him waiting long.  In the next Congress, with the Democratic majority reduced by half and split over the currency and other heated issues, Reed enjoyed a delicious revenge.  Over and over he demanded roll calls and when Bland of Missouri stormed against this 'downright filibuster,' he countered instantly, 'Downright?  You mean upright.'  His control over his party, as minority leader no less than as Speaker, remained total.  'Gentlemen on that side blindly follow him,' Speaker Crisp said wistfully.  'You will hear them privately saying, 'Reed ought not to do that,' or 'This is wrong,' but when Reed says 'Do it,' they all step up and do it.'  When at last the Democrats had to give way, and for the sake of their own program, re-adopt his quorum-counting rule, Reed refrained from crowing.  'This scene here today is a more effective address than any I could make,' he said.  'I congratulate the Fifty-third Congress.'" The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman, pgs. 128-130.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tory Element in Modern America

       The fact that today's American Liberal is the lineal descendant of the British Tory is hard to contest.  The public employee is the modern equivalent of landed aristocracy.  Government by experts is the modern equivalent of Divine Right of Kings.  Most telling is the political theory expressed by Hollywood in With Honors, where the Presidency, it is concluded, is an elected monarchy.  Doesn't get much more Tory than that.  Add to that the fact that modern liberals consider Congress a cipher.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Legislative Nostalgia, Part Three

       "In 1889, however, Theodore Roosevelt proved politically useful to {Speaker Thomas B.} Reed in his intra-party contest against McKinley, Joe Cannon and two others for the Speakership.  While ranching and hunting in the Northwest, Roosevelt campaigned vigorously, and with success, to ensure that the four new states which had just entered the Union--Washington, Montana and the two Dakotas--would send Republicans to the next Congress.  On his return to Washington he opened personal headquarters in a back room of the old Wormley Hotel where he 'rounded up' the new Congressmen's votes for Reed.  Although, to the despair of his supporters, Reed refused to fish for votes with the bait of promised committee appointments, he won nevertheless.
       He now occupied the highest electoral office in the gift of his party next to the Presidency.  'Ambitious as Lucifer,' in the opinion of Representative Champ Clark, who knew him well, he did not intend to stop there.  He was determined, on taking up the gavel as Speaker, to put into effect a plan on which he had long deliberated, consulting no one, and on which he risked his political future.  He knew that the fight would focus upon him the nation's attention and also that if he failed his Congressional career would be over.  The stakes were high:  he would either break 'the tyranny of the minority' by which the House was paralyzed into a state of 'helpless inanity,' or he would resign.
       The system Speaker Reed had decided to challenge was known as the silent--or disappearing--quorum.  It was a practice whereby the minority party could prevent any legislation obnoxious to it by refusing a quorum, that is, by demanding a roll call and then remaining silent when their names were called.  Since the rules prescribed that a member's presence was established only by a viva voce reply to the roll, and since it required a majority of the whole to constitute a quorum, the silent filibuster could effectively stop the House from doing business.
      The recent election of 1888 had been a Republican victory in which for the first time in sixteen years one party controlled both Executive and Congress.  But by barely a hair.  The dour Benjamin Harrison was a minority President who had lost to Cleveland in popular vote and sat on that unstable throne so oddly carpentered by the electoral college system.  The Republican majority of 168-160 was wafer-thin, only three more than a quorum, which was set at 165.  With this the Republicans faced the task of enacting two major pieces of party legislation, the Mills Bill for revising the tariff and the Force Bill directed against the poll tax and other Southern devices to keep the Negroes from voting.  The Democrats were prepared to obstruct this legislation and also to prevent a vote on the seating of four Republicans, two of them Negroes, in contested elections from Southern districts.
       To Reed the issue was survival of representative government.  If the Democrats could prevent that legislation which the Republicans by virtue of their electoral victory could rightfully expect to enact, they would in effect be setting aside the verdict of the election.  The rights of the minority, he believed, were preserved by freedom to debate and to vote but when the minority was able to frustrate action by the majority, 'it becomes a tyranny.'  He believed that legislation, not merely deliberation, was the business of Congress.  The duty of the Speaker to his party and country was to see that that business was accomplished, not merely to umpire debate.
       The Speakership was a post of tremendous influence, still possessed of all the powers which in 1910, in the revolt against Joe Cannon, were to be transferred to the committees.  Since the Speaker was ex officio Chairman of the Committee on Rules, whose two Republican and two Democrat members cancelled each other out, and since he had the right to appoint all committees, the careers of members and the course of legislation depended upon his will.  In Reed's hands was now the 'power with responsibility,' and notwithstanding a famous dictum, power has other effects than only to corrupt:  it can also enlarge the understanding.  It sometimes begets greatness.  The Speaker's office, which the Washington Post called 'no less consequential than the Presidency,' could be the stepping stone to that ultimate peak.  Reed was not the man either to miss his opportunity or to meet it feebly.
       He reached his decision to attack the silent quorum, and planned his campaign, alone, partly because no one else would have thought there was a chance of success and partly because he was not sure that even his own party would support him.  There were indications that they might not.  Because of Reed's known views on the silent filibuster it was clear that quorum-counting would be an issue in the new Congress.  REED WILL COUNT THEM, predicted a headline in the Washington Post, and the story beneath it said that even Mr. Cannon, Reed's closest lieutenant, was opposed to the attempt.  The Democrats were manning their defences.  Ex-Speaker Carlisle let it be known that any legislation enacted by a quorum which had not been established by a 'recorded vote' would be taken to court as unconstitutional.
       Reed, however, had satisfied himself that he would be upheld if it came to law, and on the attitude of his own party he was prepared to gamble.  He shrewdly judged that the Democrats in their rage would provoke the Republicans to rally to his support.  When the first of the contested elections appeared on the schedule for January 29 he was ready.  As expected, the Democrats raised a call of no quorum and demanded a roll call.  It produced 163 yeas, all Republican, two less than a quorum.  Reed's moment had come.  Without a flicker of expression on the great white moon face, 'the largest human face I ever saw,' as a colleague described it, without any quickening of the drawling voice, he announced, 'The chair directs the Clerk to record the names of the following members present and refusing to vote,' and began reading off the names himself.  Instantly, according to a reporter, 'pandemonium broke loose.  The storm was furious. . . and it is to be doubted if ever there was such wild excitement, burning indignation, scathing denunciation and really dangerous conditions as existed in the House ' during the next five days.  Republicans were wildly applauding, all the Democrats were 'yelling and shrieking and pounding their desks' while the voice of their future Speaker, Crisp of Georgia, boomed, 'I appeal!  I appeal from the decision of the Chair!'  The explosion was 'as violent as was ever witnessed in any parliament,' a member recalled later.  Unruffled, expressionless, the Speaker continued his counting.  'Mr. Blanchard, Mr. Bland, Mr. Blount, Mr. Breckenridge of Kentucky. . .'
       Up jumped the Kentuckian, 'famous for his silver hair and silver tongue.'  'I deny the power of the Speaker and denounce it as revolutionary!' he called.
       The resonant twang from the Chair continued unregarding, "Mr. Bullock, Mr. Bynum, Mr. Carlisle, Mr. Chipman, Mr. Clement, Mr. Covert, Mr. Crisp, Mr. Cummings'--through hisses and catcalls and cries of 'Appeal!' irresistably rolling down the alphabet--'Mr. Lawler, Mr. Lee, Mr. McAdoo, Mr. McCreary. . .'
       'I deny your right, Mr. Speaker, to count me as present!' bellowed McCreary.
        For the first time the Speaker stopped, held the hall in silence for a pause as an actor holds an audience, then blandly spoke:  'The Chair is making a statement of fact that the gentleman is present.  Does he deny it?'  
       He went on with his count, unmoved by the protests, denials, cries of 'Order!' that rose to bedlam, through the S's and T's to the end.  Then, suddenly, seeming to gather all the power of his huge body, projecting all the force of his commanding personality and raising the voice which could fill any hall when he wanted, he announced, 'The Chair thereupon rules that there is a quorum present within the meaning of the Constitution.'
       Tumult even worse than before followed.  Breckenridge of Kentucky demanded a point of order on the ground that the Chair had no right to make such a ruling.  'The Chair overrules the point of order,' declared Reed coolly.
       'I appeal the decision of the Chair!' shouted Breckenridge.
       'I move to lay the appeal on the table,' quickly interposed an alert Republican, Payson of Illinois.  As this motion, if carried, would have shut off debate, the Democrats foamed with rage.  A hundred of them 'were on their feet howling for recognition,' wrote a reporter.  'Fighting Joe' Wheeler, the diminutive former Confederate cavalry general, unable to reach the front because of the crowded aisles, came down from the rear 'leaping from desk to desk as an ibex leaps from crag to crag.'  As the excitement grew wilder, the only Democrat not on his feet was a huge Representative from Texas who sat in his seat significantly whetting a bowie knife on his boot.  When a Republican member said he believed 'we should have debate' on such an important matter, Reed allowed it.  The debate was to last four days with the Democrats fighting every inch of the way, insisting on readings of every word of the Journal, on appeals and points of order and roll calls, each of which were met by Reed impeturbably counting off the silent members as present and evoking each time further infuriated defiance.  Once Representative McKinley, striving to please as usual, inadvertently yielded the floor, and had to be prompted by Reed, 'The gentleman from Ohio declines to be interrupted.'
       'I decline to be interrupted,' echoed McKinley valiantly closing the breach.
       As implacably at each juncture Reed counted heads and repeated his formula, 'A Constitutional quorum is present to do business,' the fury and frustration of the Democrats mounted.  A group breathing maledictions advanced down the aisle threatening to pull him from the Chair and for a moment it looked to a spectator 'as if they intended to mob the Speaker.'  Reed remained unmoved.  Infected by the passion on the floor, visitors and correspondents in the galleries leaned over the railings to shake their fists at the Speaker and join in the abuse and profanity.  'Decorum,' lamented a reporter, 'was altogether forgotten.  Members rushed madly about the floor, the scowl of battle upon their brows. . . .shouting in a mad torrent of eloquent invective.'  They called Reed tyrant, despot and dictator, hurling epithets like stones.  Among all the variants on the word 'tyrant,' 'czar' emerged as the favorite, embodying for its time the image of unrestrained autocracy, and as 'Czar' Reed, the Speaker was known thereafter.  The angrier the Democrats became, the cooler Reed remained, bulking hugely in the chair, 'serene as a summer morning.'  Although his secretary saw him in his private room, during an interval, gripping the desk and shaking with suppressed rage, he never gave a sign in the hall to show that the vicious abuse touched him.  He maintained an iron control, 'cool and determined as a highwayman,' said the New York Times.  The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman, pgs. 124-28.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Legislative Nostalgia, Part Two

       "His lucidity and logic were particularly effective under the 'five-minute' rule.  'Russell,' he said to a Representative from Massachussetts, 'you do not understand the theory of five-minute debate.  The object is to convey to the House either information or misinformation.  You have consumed several periods of five minutes this afternoon without doing either.'
       Reed made his point by narrating, not orating.  Once when engaged in his favorite sport of baiting the adjoining chamber for which he felt a profound disrespect, he described a Presidential election fifty years in the future when by Constitutional amendment the President would be selected from among and by the Senators.  'When the ballots had been collected and spread out, the Chief Justice who presided was observed to hesitate and those nearest could see by his pallor that something unexpected had happened.  But with a strong effort he rose to his feet and through a megaphone, then recently invented by Edison, shouted to the vast multitude the astonishing result:  seventy-six Senators had each received one vote.'
       Discussing economic privilege during a tariff debate he told how, when walking through the streets of New York and contrasting 'the brownstone fronts of the rich merchants with the unrewarded virtue of the people on the sidewalk, my gorge rises,. . .I do not feel kindly to the people inside.  But when I feel that way I know what the feeling is.  It is good honest high-minded envy.  When the gentlemen across the aisle have the same feeling they think it is political economy.'
       When word ran down the corridors that Reed was on his feet, about to speak, gossiping groups dissolved, members hurried to their seats, boredom and inattention vanished as the House listened expectantly for the sculptured prose, the prick of sarcasm and the flash of wit.  Every member coveted the notoriety of debating with Reed, but he refused to be drawn in by the 'little fellows,' reserving himself only for those he considered worthy opponents.
       Reporters, in the hope of eliciting a witticism, were always asking him for comments on the news of the day.  They were not always successful.  Asked to comment on a Papal message, he replied, 'The overpowering unimportance of this makes me speechless.'  Asked what was the greatest problem confronting the American people, he replied, 'How to dodge a bicycle.'
       After his first term, his nomination as Representative of Maine's First District was never afterward contested.  Elections were another matter and he almost lost the one of 1880 when he refused to compromise or equivocate on free silver despite strong 'greenback' sentiment in Maine.  He kept his seat on that occasion by only 109 votes.  But as his fame grew he generally ran ahead of his ticket in the biennial elections.  Even Democrats confessed to 'voting for him on the sly.'  'He suited the taste of New England,' said Senator Hoar of Massachusetts.  'The people liked to hear him on public questions better than any other man not excepting {James G.} Blaine or McKinley.'  The reason was perhaps the same as that given by an Englishman to explain the secret of Palmerston's popularity:  'What the nation likes in Palmerston is his you-be-damnedness!'
       Though Reed scorned fence-building and never encouraged familiarity with the public, among intellectual equals 'no more agreeable companion ever lived.'  In the small world that was then Washington's elite he was a jovial and radiant personality, a poker-player, storyteller and sought-after dinner guest.  At one dinner party when the conversation turned on gambling, another famous raconteur, Senator Choate of New York, remarked somewhat unctuously that he had never made a bet on a horse or card or anything else in his life.  'I wish I could say that,' a fellow guest said earnestly.  'Why caan't you?' asked Reed with his peculiar twang.  'Choate did.'
       His table talk was enriched by the resources of a cultivated mind.  His favorite poets were Burns, Byron and Tennyson, his favorite novel Thackeray's Vanity Fair.  He habitually read Punch, and Balzac in the original, of whom he said, 'There is hardly a book of his which is not sad beyond words.'  He had learned French after he was forty and kept a diary in that language 'for practise.'  The existence of a national library is owed to Reed, whose persistent and eloquent insistence finally wore out the natural parsimony of the House to secure adequate funds for the Library of Congress.
       'No one was ever better to listen to or a better listener,' said Lodge, 'for his sympathies were wide, his interests unlimited and nothing human was alien to him.'  'We asked the Tom Reeds to dinner,'  wrote a young friend of Lodge from New York, 'and he was delightful.'  Shortly afterward Reed, an advocate of civil service reform, obtained for the young man a post in Washington on the Civil Service Commission and thereafter, whenever the new Commissioner needed help on the Hill, Reed was ready to give it.  Later when the young man from New York bestrode the national scene, Reed composed probably the most memorable tribute ever made to him:  'Theodore, if there is one thing more than another for which I admire you, it is your original discovery of the Ten Commandments.'  With a little less prescience he had also said, 'Theodore will never be President; he has no political background.'  The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman, pgs. 122-24.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Thy Name Is MUD

       The life of the spirit is at odds with the social-science mentality.  The economist never considers the cultural effects of the economic policies he advocates.  What he or she deals in is mechanistic:  one does what satisfies their personal drives for material goods, sex, food and so forth. 
         Thus you have Materialism, which occurs alongside Unspiritualness.  Unspiritualness is the inability to self-abnegate or empathize.  By self-abnegation, Estase means doing without or self-denial.  Empathization, of course, means being able to imagine the suffering of others.  The third factor is Darkness, the relentless glamorization of evil.  Visible through the fact that many horror movies are torture-porn, much music extolls negative emotions, and popular books are often fantasies of immorality.
          Taken together, you have MUD (Materialistic Unspiritual Darkness).  Similar to what Pope John Paul II called "the culture of death," MUD is to be seen in the self-absorbtion of modern life.  One American political party says that women should have government-funded contraception and abortion.  Sex as MUD.  The other, not to be outdone, contends that even the most basic social programs are unacceptable.  I don't want to pay for someone else's food stamps!  Economizing as MUD. 
       Keeping MUD out of our lives may be as impossible as keeping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.  Perhaps the best way to fight MUD is to be aware of it.  MUD is the noonday devil, the encouragement to put Number One first.  It permeates the policy positions of both parties.  As we progress towards Marxism, it becomes an immense danger, as MUD is an enormous part of Marxism.  In that case, MUD justified mass murder and the gulag.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Legislative Nostalgia, Part One

       "Speaker {Thomas B. of Maine} Reed in character, intellect and a kind of brutal independence represented the best that America could put into politics in his time.  He was sprung from a rib of that hard northern corner of New England with the uncompromising monosyballic name.  At the time of his birth in 1839 his ancestors had been living in Maine for two hundred years.  Through his mother he was descended from a Mayflower passenger and through his father's mother from George Cleve, who came from England in 1632, built the first white man's house in Maine and was founder of the Portland Colony and its first Governor.  The Reed who married Cleve's great-great-granddaughter came of a fishing and seafaring family.  Never landed in a large sense, nor wealthy, these forbears and their neighbors had striven over the generations to maintain a settlement on the rock-ribbed soil, to struggle against odds was bred into Thomas Reed's blood.  His father, captain of a small coastal vessel, had mortgaged his home to send his son to Bowdoin.  To maintain himself at college, Reed taught school, walking six miles to and from his lodgings every day.  The sons of Portland families went to Bowdoin, not to satisfy social custom, but to gain a serious education.  As most of them were situated in circumstances like Reed's, the semesters were arranged to allow for teaching school in winter.  Reed intended himself for the ministry, but sitting up nights on the bed in his attic room reading aloud with a college friend Carlyle's French Revolution, Goethe's Faust and Werther, Macaulay's Essays and the novels of Thackaray and Charles Reade, he formed religious convictions that were too individual to submit to a formal creed.  After graduating in 1861 he studied law while continuing to teach for $20 a month and "boarding round" in local families.
       The Civil War did not engulf him until 1864 when he joined the Navy and saw service of a none too bellicose nature on a Mississippi gunboat.  He was commissary officer and would freely admit in later life that he had never been under fire.  The usual aura of glory and glitter of gallantry which gradually encrust most wartime memories were no part of Reed's.  "What a charming life that was, that dear old life in the Navy," he would say when others took to recalling the war, "when I kept grocery on a gunboat.  I knew all the regulations and the rest of them didn't.  I had all my rights and most of theirs."  He was to repeat the method and gain the same result in Congress.
       When admitted to the bar in Maine in 1865, Reed was a tall, strong young man of twenty-five with a square handsome hard-boned face and thick blond hair.  During the next ten years he served as City Counsel for Portland, was elected to the state Legislature and then to the state Senate, was appointed Attorney-General for Maine, married, and grew fat.  He had two children, a son who died young and a daughter.  His hair thinned until he was almost bald, his figure bellied out until, as he walked down the streets of Portland, he resembled "a human frigate among shallops."  Silent, impassive, with an inward-turned eye, noticing no one, he moved along with the ponderous, gently swaying gait of an elephant.  "How narrow he makes the street look!" a passer-by once exclaimed.
       In 1876, Reed, now thirty-six, was elected to Congress in place of Blaine, who moved up to the Senate.  As a member of the committee formed to investigate the Democrats' charges of electoral fraud in the Hayes-Tilden election, his cross-examination of witnesses drew spectators for its forensic artistry and made him nationally prominant.  In subsequent Congresses he became a member of the all-important Rules Committee and chairman of the Judiciary Committee while session by session perfecting his knowledge of House procedure and parliamentary device.
       A body of rules had grown up "calculated better than anything else," as a colleague said, "to obstruct legislation," a body as full of "intricacies and secrets" as the armamentarium of a medieval cabalist.  Reed mastered it.  "In my opinion there never has been a more perfectly equipped leader in any parliamentary body at any period," said a professional observer, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, who had served with him for seven years in the House.  Reed not only knew parliamentary practice and law but "understood as few men do the theory and philosophy of the system."  Whether consciously or not, he was preparing for the time when as Speaker he would be able to impress upon the House a sense that no one on the floor could compete with the Chair in command of the rules.
       Even with this he could not have imposed his authority if he had not also been "the finest, most effective debater," in Lodge's opinion, "that I have ever seen or heard."  He never used an extra word, never stumbled in his syntax, was never at a loss, never forced to retreat or modify a position.  He was instant in rejoinder, terse, forcible, lucid.  He could state a case unanswerably, illuminate an issue, destroy an argument or expose a fallacy in fewer words than anyone else.  His language was vivid and picturesque.  "Hardly time to ripen a strawberry," he said to describe a lapse of two months.  He had a way of phrasing things that was peculiarly apt and peculiarly his own.  In an argument over which of two members, Berry or Curtis, was the taller, he asked them to stand up and be measured.  When Berry uncoiled slowly to his full height, Reed said, "My God, Berry, how much of yourself to you keep in your pockets?"  His epigrams were famous.  "All the wisdom in the world consists in shouting with the majority" was one.  "A statesman is a politician who is dead" was another.  He rarely made a gesture when speaking.  "When he stood up," said Lodge, "waiting for an opponent to conclude, filling the narrow aisle, with his hands resting upon the desk, with every trace of expression banished from his face and looking as if he had not an idea and barely heard what was being said, then he was most dangerous."  After one retort which left its victim limply speechless, Reed, looking about him sweetly, remarked, "Having embedded that fly in the liquid amber of my remarks, I will proceed.""  The Proud Tower by Barbara W. Tuchman, pgs. 119-122.