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Saturday, July 04, 2020

Renewing the Pledge

A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.
—G.K. Chesterton

A man learns to love his country who has learned to love his family. A man cares for his family first—and not because of strong feeling merely, but because he has sworn an oath to God and his neighbors to stand by his bride, and to protect, with his very life, the offspring of their union. And to those before whom he swore the oath, he owes also a special duty to protect them from such harm that it is in his control to avoid. For these, a man's first, tiny platoons, he has fought and won heroic victories. In memory of these victories, and of his fallen brothers, he has erected monuments, and taught his children to remember them and to honor them.

Chief among these monuments is the flag under which they fought, and died. The flag is a symbol of first loyalties. A man will fight and even die for his own country, but he owes no supererogatory duty to equate the interests of foreigners with those he is sworn and bound to protect. The world is God's charge, not man's, who, frail and impotent, is charged instead with the modest task to care for those around him. For he who will not be satisfied with saving less than the whole world, would make himself God—and in so doing would he not only defy the creator of the world, but would commit acts of treachery against his fellow man: by casting those in his charge out of their homes, away from their friends, and into strange lands who know them not.

No man learns to fight and die for his country from some head of state. If ever such a thing has happened in history, it was an unnatural thing. For no one ought to persuade anyone to fight and die, for any country or for any person. Yet, one who is not willing to fight and die for his own country is a refugee; one who would not die for his family is an orphan. It is in the fortress of the family, and through campaigns with friends, that one learns the parent of all virtues, which is love. For greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. He who loves, fights.

And so it has come to pass that those who detest fighting, detest love also.

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Americans, my friends!


Friday, July 03, 2020

Franklin Roosevelt addresses a nation on the verge of a great war


"There is, moreover, another enemy at home. That enemy is the mean and petty spirit that mocks at ideals, sneers at sacrifice and pretends the American people can live by bread alone. If the spirit of God is not in us, and if we will not prepare to give all that we are to preserve Christian civilization in our own land, we shall go to destruction."

FDR, September 2, 1940 at the Dedication Ceremony of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Newfound Cap, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park dedicated in 1940 | Raleigh ...

Monday, June 29, 2020

John Roberts' first loyalty

As has become his judicial custom, such as voting with the Supreme Court's liberal bloc in upholding Obamacare's constitutionality with a tortured argument about it being a "tax," Chief Justice John Roberts today joined the liberals in striking down a restrictive Louisiana abortion law via form, not substance.

Image: Anti-abortion advocates wait outside of the Supreme Court for a decision in a Louisiana abortion case on June 29, 2020.

Since his wife is a devout Catholic who once worked as an attorney for Feminists for Life, an anti-abortion feminist group, many reasonably questioned his impartiality when it comes to abortion. But they needn't have worried.

The Chief Justice's first loyalty is to the Supreme Court as an institution. Not to the truth, not to what is right, not even to the Constitution. Here he admits that precedent—even a bad one—is more important than any of those things:

Roberts said he thought the court was wrong to strike down the Texas law, but he voted with the majority because that was the binding precedent. "The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana's law cannot stand under our precedents."

Stare decisis is for suckas, and John Roberts is the biggest one of all.  Roberts is so concerned with the appearance of the Supreme Court as a trusted, apolitical arbiter of constitutional truth that he'll vote with the four liberal ideologues who make no attempt to hide their blatant disregard for it.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Liberals: Then and Now

Liberals from November 2016 until June 2020: The Department of Justice enjoys independence, both legally as well as normatively, from the White House and President. The President should only supervise investigations and prosecutions at the broad policy-making level (via statutes and regulations) and by appointments in the normal course of rotation in office, through retirements and resignations. If the President wants to know the details of ongoing investigations and prosecutions, he can read about them in the newspapers like anyone else. The unitary executive theory is alien to our legal system—a phony doctrine made up by the Federalist Society.

Liberals after June 2020 Publication of the Strzok Memorandum in the Flynn MatterOf course, the President should be apprised of the details of all ongoing investigations—even if they involve the opposition party’s candidate and his confidantes. No one is above the law! The President is supposed to comment about how to staff those investigations. And the Vice President is supposed to put forward novel legal theories (e.g., the Logan Act) in order to help the investigation/prosecution (of his future opponent). These are not disqualifying conflicts: such conflicts are built into the Constitution. The Vice President is part of the Executive Branch and has a role in active Justice Department investigations—even if that involves the opposition. The unitary executive includes the Vice President. The Unitary Executive …

To put it another way ... the active involvement of the Attorney General and Main Justice in overriding the decisions of subordinates and career civil servants is bad, particularly if all the facts are known and when it is done in public. But the Vice Presidents putting forward novel legal theories to move an investigation of the opposition forward is ... perfectly normal ... especially when done in secret. Makes complete sense.

Seth

Seth Barrett Tillman, Liberals: Then and Now, New Reform Club (June 26, 2020, 5:40 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2020/06/liberals-then-and-now.html>; 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Found Poetry

"Found Poetry" is a something I was taught about in school. The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls. And tenement halls. And there's something to that.



School principal terminated. You poor fool. You poet, you. See my correction below. Tiffany Riley, hit me up.

'I firmly believe that Black Lives Matter, but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken to get to this point across; some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point. While I want to get behind BLM, I do not think people should be made to feel they have to choose black race over human race. While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all? Just because I don’t walk around with a BLM sign should not mean I am a racist.'


If only you'd have punctuated like a poet
You'd be getting an award right now instead of a pink slip:



While I want to
by Tiffany Riley


I firmly
believe

that Black Lives Matter,


but I DO NOT agree with the coercive measures taken
to get to this point across;

some of which are falsified in an attempt to prove a point.

While I want to get behind BLM, 

I do not 
think 
people should be made to feel
they have to choose 

black race 
over human 

race.

While I understand the urgency to feel compelled to advocate for black lives, what about our fellow law enforcement? What about all others who advocate for and demand equity for all?

Just because
I don’t walk around 

with a

BLM sign

should not mean 


am 
a 'racist.'


Well done, Tiff. No need to thank me. Next time, run it by me first.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

God bless the name of Washington, that name this land reveres

When the Prince of Wales came o’er, and made a hullabaloo,
Oh, everybody was turned-out in gold and tinsel too;
But then the good old sixty-ninth they didn’t like lords or peers,
They wouldn’t give a damn for Kings, the Irish volunteers!
 
We love the land of liberty, it’s laws we will revere,
“But the devil take the nobility!” says the Irish volunteer.
We love the land of liberty, it’s laws we will revere,
“But the devil take the nobility!” says the Irish volunteer.
 
Now if the traitors in the south should ever cross our roads,
We’ll drive them all to blazes, as Saint Patrick did the toads,
Well give them all short nooses that come just below the ears
Made strong and good from Irish hemp, by Irish volunteers.
 
Then here’s to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres,
He’ll lead us on to victory, say the Irish volunteers.
Then here’s to brave McClellan, whom the army now reveres,
He’ll lead us on to victory, say the Irish volunteers.
 
Now fill your glasses up, me boys, a toast come drink with me,
May Erin’s harp and Starry Flag united ever be;
May traitors quake, and rebels shake, and tremble in their fears,
When next we meet the Yankee boys, the Irish volunteers.
 
God bless the name of Washington, that name this land reveres,
Success to Meagher and Nugent and the Irish volunteers.
God bless the name of Washington, that name this land reveres,
Success to Meagher and Nugent and the Irish volunteers.
Excerpt from The Irish Volunteer, by Webster, J. P. (composer) and Bennet, S. Fillmore (lyricist), H. M. Higgins, Chicago, 1862.

Mordor, USA

All the ruffians do what he says; and what he says is mostly: hack, burn, and ruin; and now it’s come to killing. There’s no longer even any bad sense in it. They cut down trees and let ’em lie, they burn houses and build no more.
My children's favorite chapters from Tolkien's The Return of the King did not make the cut for the blockbuster film adaptation. After the simple hobbits saved Middle Earth by defeating the evil of the stinking, smoking land of Mordor, they returned home to find the Shire terrorized by the wizard Saruman's ruffians, who had knocked down the hobbits' buildings, trees, and monuments, for no other reason than to remove all markers of memory. For a people without pride of place is less likely to defend that place. The trees of the Shire were not just bark and branches, they are where children climbed and hunted, and under whose leaves the people gathered to enjoy warm August nights. A homeland denuded of monuments is just a zip code, and its people mere names in a phone book. "‘This is worse than Mordor!’ said Sam. ‘Much worse in a way. It comes home to you, as they say; because it is home, and you remember it before it was all ruined.’"

A little bit of Mordor is coming home to us in America. The list of our monuments defaced, displaced, or destroyed in this riot season alone is long and still running, but already includes such figures as Thomas Jefferson (who wrote the Declaration of Independence), George Washington (the father of our country who freed his slaves upon his death), Junipero Serra (who founded the California missions), and Cervantes (who was himself held as a slave). They have toppled Ulysses S. Grant, whom Frederick Douglass eulogized as “a man too broad for prejudice, too humane to despise the humblest, too great to be small at any point. In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior.” The first American progressive president, Teddy Roosevelt, is no longer welcome. Across the pond, even Winston Churchill is far from safe.

The message is clear. It is not the monuments they hate. It is the people who revere them.

Scanning the comments of this campaign, some of the ruffians -- most of whom appear to be young, white college graduates -- still attempt to justify the monument toppling on the basis that the monuments represent historical figures of impure virtue. Though at the above examples, the strain of this exercise becomes too great. Instead, more radicals are adopting the breezier stance of rejecting the very idea of statues. Why should we have statues at all? they proclaim. In this they are hitting rather closer to the spirit of Mordor: That a people should love their homeland is itself contemptible. It stands against the ruffians' will to rule us. The ruffians slash and burn not because they love something, but because we do.

Our monuments are us. A people who will not object to their monuments being toppled and erased will not very strongly object to themselves being toppled and erased.

Our ruffians and their wizards, produced at our elite institutions, have been miffed at our statues for a long time. In the 1980s, the first prize for a competition to create a monument to the perished soldiers of the Vietnam war was awarded not to an artist, but to an architect, Maya Lin, who had chosen to honor our country's dead with an enormous phone book -- a flat surface coldly listing the names of dead soldiers. The work is a surgical deconstruction of the soldiers' lives and sacrifice: their deaths are worth nothing, and so their lives are worth nothing. For Lin, art was an act of destruction, a gash in the ground, an open wound.


Veterans were so upset by the ghoulishness of the work that sculptor Frederick Hart was commissioned to contribute his work, Three Soldiers, for display at the memorial as well. Lin reportedly was annoyed at having to share the memorial with a sculpture. Amusingly, upon seeing Three Soldiers, Lin asked Hart if his models had complained of any pain. Pain? asked Hart. Yes, when you removed the plaster from their bodies. Apparently, Lin had assumed he'd used wet plaster to cast his models, rather than to actual sculpt the works. Lin was incapable of imagining that remembering a person should require the artist to care about him.

Hart posing with the three soldiers depicted in Three Soldiers.

The statue topplers of 2020 carry on Lin's contempt, and with nearly as much skill.

Americans love their statues. They love their history. They love their country. They love it not because it is perfect, but because it is theirs. The conceit of the monument topplers is that a country is just another consumer product. "The assumption," G.K. Chesterton once put it, is that one may criticize a place "as if he were house-hunting, as if he were being shown over a new suite of apartments." This is nonsense, because:
no man is in that position. A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.
And because we love our country, we love those who founded it, and those who defended it. We love them not because they are perfect, for if they were perfect, they would be imposters -- or we would. They were not some alien race. They were flawed humans, as are we. When we condemn the imperfections in others, we condemn ourselves.  We accept these flaws, Chesterton said, not out of optimism, but out of patriotism. "It is a matter of primary loyalty. The world is not a lodging-house at Brighton, which we are to leave because it is miserable. It is the fortress of our family, with the flag flying on the turret, and the more miserable it is the less we should leave it." In the final chapters of The Return of the King not depicted in the film, Merry and Pippin, who had been louts and miscreants before following Sam and Frodo into war merely for the sake of friendship, returned skilled and courageous warriors, capable of raising their Shirefolk into a successful campaign to rout the ruffians and run them out of their homes. Through their love of their friends and their homeland, Merry and Pippin attained marshal virtues, and became unlikely heroes.

Not only do we not turn out our monuments, we do not even turn out our topplers. And for the same reason. For in them moves the same spirit, though twisted and corrupted by vice and viciousness, that moves in us. As our monuments teach us, moments of honor shine even through sinful and wretched creatures, and just as the attainment of virtue does not secure against decline into vice, even one who is mired in vice may yet be saved, and bring honor to himself and his people. In The Return of the King, when the hobbits overthrow Saruman and turn him out of the Shire, Frodo stops his angry Shirefolk from killing him. For "[h]e was great once," Frodo tells them, "of a noble kind that we should not dare to raise our hands against. He is fallen, and his cure is beyond us; but I would still spare him, in the hope that he may find it." If we reject the possibility of redemption in who helped create and shape our country, do we not reject the possibility of redemption in the country itself?

To keep the great deeds of our history alive was the last charge Frodo gave to Sam: to "keep alive the memory of the age that is gone, so that people will remember the Great Danger and so love their beloved land all the more."

Leading up to his first inaugural, President-elect Barack Obama said, "What is required is a new declaration of independence," through "an appeal not to our easy instincts but to our better angels." He went on to implore: "Let's all of us do our part to rebuild this country." But our heroes are created out of flawed mediums. And that flawed medium is the message. Obama would write our ideals on lifeless stone, as Lin wrote the names of our war dead, while frowning at the statue of the soldiers who remind us of the flesh and blood who lived, and who fought, and who died, for their country, and for us. If you wish to destroy the message, start by destroying the medium -- the stories and images of the lives who saved us from the Great Dangers to secure our beloved land.

Those who topple our statues have in mind to topple us. We must rouse ourselves against them.






Saturday, June 20, 2020

The more things change...

Marvel Comics, circa 1970. It was a trap, Hulk. If only you had smashed them all.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

More statues, forever



Image



The left's race outrage at inanimate objects in America has spread to England. First Winston Churchill, now one Cecil Rhodes, the colonialist who was perhaps the godfather of the apartheid regime in Rhodesia.


How brave. Statues can't fight back. The left is always tearing stuff down and calling it "progress." But we can learn nothing from history by erasing it. Instead of tearing down the statue of Cecil Rhodes, they should erect one of the risible tyrant Robert Mugabe as a study in, oh, let's call it Comparative Racism.

                                        Image


What I would expect such a study to find is that men and peoples are pretty much the same all over the world once the tables are turned. The oppressed become the oppressors. We become what we hate. A lesson perhaps far more instructional than any given set of sins and grievances.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Joe Versus the Volcano

This summer, while staying home because of a disgraced scientist's advice, and journalists who continue urging that advice, consider enjoying a whimsically portentous film:
Joe Versus the Volcano. Film, 1990. A doctor diagnoses a rare disease in a depressed patient and suggests he sacrifice his life by jumping into a volcano on the small island of Waponi Woo to appease its superstitious inhabitants. After leaving his job and friends behind, however, the patient falls in love with a woman who reveals the doctor is a huckster hired by the Waponis.
And then, go outside and enjoy your summer. Don't worry. The Waponis will still be there when you get back.

Does Anyone Remember?




Does anyone remember those days when all the great-&-good criticized Trump for having doubts about one of his Supreme Court nominees? Do you remember when Trump gave thought to withdrawing a nomination, but his advisers prevailed upon him to go forward?

Does anyone remember Trump stating back in 2016 that gay-rights rulings were settled-law, but abortion rulings were not? If you are surprised by Gorsuch, then you were not listening.

Seth Barrett Tillman, Does Anyone Remember?, New Reform Club (June 16, 2020, 6:55 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2020/06/does-anyone-remember.html>; 


Monday, June 15, 2020

‘The Train’: When filmmakers and their public understood it was wrong to destroy remembrances of things past



The Train (1964)

When filmmakers and their public understood it was wrong to destroy remembrances of things past:

Labiche (played by Burt Lancaster): Now we are three. One, two, three…. We started with 18 [men]. Like your paintings, mademoiselle, we couldn’t replace them. For certain things, we take the risk. But I won’t waste lives on paintings.

Mlle. Villard: But they wouldn’t be wasted. Excuse me. I know that’s a terrible thing to say. But those paintings are part of France. The Germans want to take them away. They’ve taken our land, our food. They live in our houses. And now they’re trying to take our art. This beauty, this vision of life born out of France. Our special vision. Our trust. We hold it in trust. Don’t you see? For everyone. This is our pride. What we create and hold for the world. There are worse things to risk your life for than that.

See <https://www.scripts.com/script/the_train_21496>.





Seth

Seth Barrett Tillman, ‘The Train’: When filmmakers and their public understood it was wrong to destroy remembrances of things past, New Reform Club (June 15, 2020, 8:55 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-train-when-filmmakers-and-their.html>;


Welcome Instapundit readers! My co-bloggers do good workso have a look around New Reform Club



Law school grad Chris Cuomo gets a 1st Amendment schooling


The "Ramen King" is now a viral superstar [over 6 illion views!] as CNN's "Fredo" gets his: