Monday, May 18, 2009
Was modernism totalitarian? That's coming at it a bit high, but it's true that more than a few top-tier modernists were also one-size-fits-all system-mongers who thought the world would be improved if it were rebuilt from top to bottom -- so long as they got to draw up the plans. Just as Arnold Schoenberg wanted to scrap traditional harmony in favor of his 12-tone system of musical composition, so did Le Corbusier long to demolish the heart of Paris and turn it into an ultraefficient "machine for living" dominated by cookie-cutter high-rise apartment towers. So what if the rest of the world liked things the way they were? Send in the bulldozers anyway!Read the whole thing here. Teachout has put his finger on the great sin of the Twentieth Century, the hubristic notion that credentialed experts had not only the right, but the duty to run other peoples' lives, because that was the path to utopia. It's not surprising that intellectuals and artists should adopt such self-serving foolishness, but it is absolutely terrifying that so many people acquiesced to it.
Donald, over at Two Blowhards reacts to TT's article.
[I]t might be almost a given that bright people with well-articulated worldviews and idea systems have a greater than average tendency to want to see to it that the rest of the world buys into their positions. I have to conclude that it's one more aspect of human nature and that, fortunately, most such people are tucked away in academia where the damage they do tends to be minimized compared to what it would be if they were, say, politicians.Read the whole thing here.
This relates to my own argument, oft expressed here and elsewhere, that academia is in essence a playground wherein adolescents are encouraged to engage in what Jacques Barzun calls "intellectual play". That is, to take ideas and play with them, testing and torturing them, linking them up to see what emerges, etc. The point is that academia is a fantasy environment, sheltered from the exigencies of real life, where there is a strong incentive toward irresponsible thought and action. Because of its fundamental irresponsibility, the boundary between academia and the outside world should be at best semipermeable. The sillyness should be contained lest it spread into areas where real damage could result.
This is why I am strongly opposed to the romantic notion of the public intellectual. Such people should be walled off from society rather than imposed upon it.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Aaaaah! That was nice, wasn't it!
There was one lady who, on a good day, could give Ella a run for her money -- Anita O'Day. Here is her version of the same song.
Something completely different, but just as impressive. Can't decide which version I like better.
And I just might, if I'm in the mood, prefer Django Reinhardt's version.
That's the great thing about the great standards you can hear a wonderful diversity of interpretations.
How about some Benny Goodman?
And, believe it or not, the Beatles!
And for my sis, a bluegrass version by Alison Krauss & Union Station. She performed this at the Philly Folkfest. Too bad I missed that year.
I could do this all night, but I won't. I'll close out with a version by two of the greatest guitarists of our time -- Chet Atkins and Lenny Breau.
And now to bed....
Saturday, May 16, 2009
You see something like this along the side of the road and you think, "nice" and pass on, but if you stop and get up close you see this, and you think, "wow"!
Here are a few more closeups:
The things you can see wandering along a country road here in the gorgeous commonwealth.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
The Obama administration is bold. It also is careless regarding constitutional values and is acquiring a tincture of lawlessness.Read the whole thing here.
The Obama administration's agenda of maximizing dependency involves political favoritism cloaked in the raiment of "economic planning" and "social justice" that somehow produce results superior to what markets produce when freedom allows merit to manifest itself, and incompetence to fail. The administration's central activity -- the political allocation of wealth and opportunity -- is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The experience with Cuba is often cited as evidence of the futility of non-engagement. For five decades the United States has shunned formal ties with, and indeed has maintained an economic embargo on, Cuba. Yet the Castro brothers remain in power. [But] the Cuban case does not demonstrate the general utility of engagement, because Cuba has not been isolated from the world, but only from the United States. Other Western countries have long maintained diplomatic and economic ties with the Castro regime—there has been, that is, plenty of engagement—without noticeably expanding the freedoms or enhancing the economic welfare of the average Cuban.China, on the other hand is cited as an example of the wonders that engagement can achieve. Prior to the Nixon administration the US had shunned Communist China, but after Nixon's 1972 visit, strong economic ties between the two countries have developed and China has liberalized its economy. As a result, both countries have benefited. But, as Mandelbaum points out, Nixonian engagement had little to do with the shift in China's position. He writes:
The pattern of Sino-American relations does not... illustrate the virtues of engagement so much as it reflects the power of circumstances. Mao Zedong was willing to put aside his ideological aversion to the United States in the early 1970s because his country was severely threatened by the Soviet Union. The two communist giants fought a small-scale, two-stage border war in 1969 and in the second round China was the clear loser. Moscow proceeded to deploy a huge army on its border with China and suggested... that it was seriously contemplating a strike on China’s then-small stockpile of nuclear weapons.
In these dire circumstances, China behaved the way classical international relations theory would predict: it moved closer to the United States to offset Soviet power....
This was, in other words, an alliance of convenience, not a real engagement based on principle, and as such ephemeral.
As for the close economic ties between the United States and China, these have their roots in economic decisions made by Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, primarily for reasons of domestic politics rather than international security—decisions of a kind the rulers of the Islamic republic show no sign of making. The American experience with China has, therefore, little or nothing to teach us about the prospects with Iran.
Finally, regarding the Soviet Union, he notes that our relations with them demonstrates the ephemeral nature of alliances of convenience. As soon as the German threat was removed, the Cold War started.
Throughout the Cold War, however [theU.S.and U.S.S.R.] maintained regular diplomatic contact, arranged cultural exchanges and athletic contests, staged summit meetings, and conducted elaborate and protracted negotiations about armaments, particularly nuclear weapons. All this contact comes under the general heading of engagement....But engagement did little to lessen the hostility between the two countries.
Yet the cumulative impact of all that engagement on the overall relationship between the two nuclear superpowers was, while certainly not trivial, at best marginal. Two separate features were central to the relationship: post-1945 Soviet-American relations may be divided into two unequal parts, each with a single defining feature: from the mid-1940s to the late 1980s, deterrence; from the late 1980s to December, 1991, regime change.And what can we conclude from this?
The relationships that develop between nations owe little or nothing to policies of constructive engagement. Rather they are determined by the perceived interests of the nations involved. Regardless of whether or not America seeks engagement with Iran, the only results possible for the foreseeable future are the same as those that prevailed toward the Soviet Union -- deterrence and regime change. It is unlikely that good relations can be restored under the current Iranian regime.
Read the whole thing here.
Mandelbaum is no neo-con idealist; he's a hard-headed realist. He should be listened to, but the covey of incompetent clowns currently running America's foreign policy establishment still think that international relations can be managed the way interpersonal relations can be.
Hoping to recapture the grassroots energy of last month’s “tea parties,” Republican Govs. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Rick Perry of Texas will host a tele-town hall Thursday that’s being dubbed “Tea Party 2.0.”Read it here.
The Republican Governors Association said it is expecting 30,000 people to participate in the town hall, which will take place roughly one month after the much-publicized anti-tax tea party rallies held in hundreds of locations across the country on April 15, the tax filing deadline.
Sanford and Perry will each speak for several minutes before opening up the town hall to up to an hour-long question and answer session.
The strength and authenticity of the Tea Party movement is a result of its having been organized, not by politicians or political operatives, but by citizens. If the govs stick their noses in it they will ruin the whole thing. But isn't that what they always do?
And by the way..., for the benefit of the very, very slow people out there [like the MSM drones], those weren't "anti-tax" rallies so much as they were ANTI-SPENDING rallies.
Read it here.
One out of every four ballots requested by military personnel and other Americans living overseas for the 2008 election may have gone uncounted, according to findings being released at a Senate hearing Wednesday.
Sen. Charles Schumer, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said the study, while providing only a snapshot of voting patterns, "is enough to show that the balloting process for service members is clearly in need of an overhaul."
This is outrageous!
I wonder how many of the close elections won by Dems would have gone Republican if our servicemen and women had been allowed to vote.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Democrats charged Tuesday that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on harsh interrogation techniques in order to deflect attention and blame away from itself.Read it here.
“I think there is so much embarrassment in some quarters [of the CIA] that people are going to try to shift some of the responsibility to others — that’s what I think,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who sat on the Senate Intelligence Committee and was briefed on interrogation techniques five times between 2006 and 2007.
Well now, this is rich. The CIA for years has been selectively leaking to advance or protect its institutional interests heedless of what harm doing so might wreak on the incumbent administration, its policies, Congress, or indeed the nation it is supposed to serve. The CIA, in short, has long been a subversive institution. So long as the Bush administration was the one being subverted Democrats gleefully took advantage of the situation and became active accomplices in the crime. Now that they are the ones being targeted they are squealing to high heaven. This goes beyond mere hypocrisy -- their acquiescence to and even promotion of CIA criminality in the past in order to gain temporary political advantage is not only despicable, it is downright dangerous. But now, the Dems have an opportunity to at least partially atone for past sins. They should come down hard and long on the CIA. Heads should roll -- lots of them -- people should go to jail, and the Veteran Intelligence Professionals should be terrorized to the point where they will never, ever, again dare to undermine the agendas and directions of their political superiors.
For a while now, I've been asking people at conferences, on and off the record, what America's sovereign debt risk is? That is, how long until people stop treating treasuries as the "risk free" securities, and start demanding a premium for the risk that we might default.Read it here.
The answer from the right has been a nervous (perhaps hopeful) 2-3 years. The answer from the left, and professional Democratic wonks, is some unspecified time in the future. Probably, there will be a Republican in charge.
In other words, economists and bond traders are in general agreement that Obama has set us on a course that will bankrupt the country, destroy the dollar, and inflict immeasurable hardship on the American people. The cynical calculation by political elites of both parties is contemptible. Republicans are hoping that the collapse will take place before the end of Obama's term of office so he and the Democrats can be blamed. Democrats hope that the collapse can be deferred until a Republican is President so he/she can be blamed. Both sides accept the inevitability or at least the high probability of collapse.
What is most contemptible is the fact that our national leadership has opted to pursue short-term political advantage at the risk of long-term economic hardship. This goes far beyond mere irresponsibility -- it is criminal.
Monday, May 11, 2009
I'm not a Catholic but this time I have to applaud Benedict XVI.
When a senior Palestinian Muslim cleric forced himself onto the program during a Papal visit to Jerusalem and launched a poisonous verbal attack on Israel, the Pope walked out.
Way to go Benedict!
Read about it here.
Read it here.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Barack Obama fired the top U.S. general in Afghanistan on Monday, replacing him with a former special forces commander in a quest for a more agile, unconventional approach in a war that has gone quickly downhill. With the Taliban resurgent, Obama's switch from Gen. David McKiernan to Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal suggests the new commander in chief wants major changes in addition to the additional troops he's ordering into Afghanistan to shore up the war effort.
McKiernan, on the job for less than a year, has repeatedly pressed for more forces. Although Obama has approved more than 21,000 additional troops this year, he has warned that the war will not be won by military means.
The article sugggests that Obama's "revamped strategy" will emphasize Special Forces ops as well as non-military engagement with the Taliban [which sounds more like negotiating a disengagement than anything else]. It also involves shifting primary attention toward Pakistan.
In other words Afghanistan has now been firmly placed on the back burner. We will reduce our involvement there so as to focus more attention and more of our efforts on Pakistan -- understandable given the fact that Pak is a nuclear power that threatens our close ally, India, but it threatens to negate all of the gains we previously have made in the region.
Clearly Washington and academic "realists" approve of this move. Ceding Afghanistan to save Pakistan makes sense on the level of IR theory. But abandoning the Karzide regime, if it comes to that, will have huge consequences, not just in Afghanistan but througout all of Asia. Once again America will be perceived as the "weak horse".
General McKiernan must have stoutly resisted the change because he was summarily fired.
I wonder how long it will be before dismissed commanders will begin to issue their books attacking the administration's military strategy in Afghanistan. In the case of Iraq it was only a matter of months. And when these attacks on the Obamination come, will they be treated with the same amount of deference by the MSM as were the attacks on Bush and Rummy?
Don't count on it.
What bothers me most about this is that, while Bush demonstrated the determination, leadership, and political skills necessary to sustain large-scale war effort against a level of political and bureaucratic opposition that would have overwhelmed a lesser man, Obama shows none of these qualities. He appears weak, vacillating, and eager to rid himself of the whole set of problems. I hope he will prove otherwise, but this apparent willingness to cede gains in Afghanistan does not inspire confidence that he will be able to suddenly grow a spine when the going gets tough [as it certainly will] in Pakistan.
Wretchard over at the Belmont Club summarizes the major points of analysis surrounding this change in command. I agree wholeheartedly with his final comment:
What the “real” reasons are will likely be leaked in the coming weeks. But what matters most isn’t McKiernan’s replacement itself, but what it tells us about the new strategy in Washington, which is the key determinant of victory or defeat in the region.Read it here.
James Joyner, head of the Atlantic Council, has interesting comments here.
This weekend we traveled with some friends up to the Clyburn Arboretum where they were having a "market day". The event brought plant vendors and craftspeople from all around the Baltimore area together to sell their wares to plodding masses of aging and aspiring gardeners.
Not being a gardener myself I simply wandered around with my camera for a while, snapping pictures of the oddities on display (like "Rum Buns" here) then found a cool, shady place to sit and read. Between the crafties and the greenies the atmosphere was vaguely reminiscent of late sixties/early seventies hippydom, and I found it a bit off-putting. These weren't my kind of people back then, and they aren't today.
After a while my wife returned loaded down with plants. We all piled into the car and went back to the Inner Harbor for a late lunch. Not a bad excursion, but not particularly good either. The main consequence -- our apartment is coming more and more to look like a greenhouse.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Read it here.
The Obama campaign slandered the [military] commissions, just like it slandered Gitmo, military detention, coercive interrogations, the state secrets doctrine, extraordinary rendition, and aggressive national-security surveillance. Gitmo is still open (and Obama and Holder now admit it's a first-rate facility), we are still detaining captives (except when Obama releases dangerous terrorists), the Obama Justice Department has endorsed the Bush legal analysis of torture law in federal court, and Obama has endorsed state secrets, extraordinary rendition, and national-security surveillance (and the Bush stance on surveillance has since been reaffirmed by the federal court created to rule on such issues).
Do these people ever get called on their hypocrisy?
To answer Andy's question, of course not, that is if you are waiting for the MSM to do their job.
There are two very important points to be made regarding the continuity of policy from the Bush to the Obama administrations:
1) Bush was following legal and proper courses of action in his prosecution of the war on terror.
2) Obama knew that Bush was right, but chose instead to lie about and undermine those programs for political gain.
We arrived home in the middle of the night. The garage door wakened the flycatcher that nests on our alarm box. In its panic the poor thing took refuge in the closest brightly lit area, the garage, and refused to leave. So what to do? If we closed the door it would be trapped inside. If we left the door open all manner of critters would come in, and that, my wife declared, was completely unacceptable.
So we compromised. We shut the door for the night, got up early in the morning, and left it open while my wife poked around in her garden. After a few hours we checked out the garage again and the bird was gone. It was also gone from the nest over the alarm and we haven't seen it since.
The second round of azaleas are looking good this week, as are the trees, particularly the dogwoods.
Even the holly was blooming.
And the fading blooms still retained their beauty.
Just another Spring day here in the gorgeous Commonwealth.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Thursday, May 07, 2009
State of Play is a competently-made conspiracy thriller. There is a lot of talent on the screen. Ben Affleck is adequate in one of the main roles while Russell Crowe once again dominates the screen in the other. Rachel McAdams is lovely in a supporting part while Helen Mirren reprises her boss lady persona in another. Director Kevin MacDonald keeps things moving along and DP Rodrigo Prieto does a nice job with the camera. I wonder how many viewers noticed that the political scenes were shot in a completely different style from the newspaper ones.
Yes, newspapers and politics. Once again we are in liberal-land where virtuous and incorruptible reporters expose the deeply corrupt and dangerous core of Washington politics. One half expects Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman to pop up in cameos. They don't, but some scenes are filmed at the Watergate [wink, wink].
Based on a BBC TV series that has been well-received by the British left-wing critical community, "State of Play" provides a fascinating glimpse into the paranoid left-wing imagination. All of the tropes are there -- a corrupt political boss from rural America who spouts Jesus-speak; the crusading young congresscritter determined to expose a dangerous national security conspiracy; a plot on the part of military contractors [a thinly disguised Blackwater] to construct an internal surveillance system that threatens to crush civil liberties; a "new ownership" taking over a venerable liberal newspaper [read Rupert Murdock] and inhibiting its ability to function as a tribune of the people; the unstable and violent military veteran; the callow and superficial blogger who serves as a foil for our reporter hero and gradually learns what real journalism is all about. You get the picture. This is the left-wing view of America in spades.
The plot is fairly straightforward. A couple of people die mysteriously. A grizzled old reporter with a nose for news suspects a link and begins investigating it. A sex scandal enmeshes an up and coming young liberal congressman. The veteran reporter and his cute sidekick gradually, and at considerable personal and professional risk, expose the fact that a sinister conspiracy ties all of them together. Then comes the twist at the end. Some of the good guys turn out to be baddies. Ho hum. The film ends with a plea to save print journalism on the grounds that only grizzled old print journalists can expose corruption in high places.
"State of Play" is thus an exercise in liberal nostalgia, hearkening back to the glory days of Watergate. If you are a liberal go to see it. You'll like it. You can wallow in memories of a time when print reporters were able to bring down a Republican administration [despite having ignored the shenanigans of the previous two, equally corrupt and far more dangerous, Democrat administrations]; relish watching Helen Mirren dominate Russell Crowe; enjoy the quirky newsroom characters; and most of all have your innate sense of moral superiority confirmed. If you are a conservative or intelligent moderate, there's not much here to see other than Russell Crowe being chased through a parking garage by a deadly assassin. That's not enough. Don't waste your time, and especially don't waste your money on this one. Wait for it to show up on cable. You won't have to wait long. With its low box office, this stinker will be on the little screen soon.
Read it here.
Overweening hubris and clouded judgment, aren't those in the job description for U. S. Senator? Certainly sounds like a good description of our boy Arlen. He deserves every humiliation that is heaped on him and more. But Hoff is right. The Dems at some point in the future are going to need Specter's vote, and when they do....
Specter may be a fool, but he has a long memory. He does not forget, and he does not forgive.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
Read it here.
An expedition team which set sail from Plymouth on a 5,000-mile carbon emission-free trip to Greenland have been rescued by an oil tanker.
Raoul Surcouf, Richard Spink and skipper Ben Stoddart sent a mayday because they feared for their safety amid winds of 68mph (109km/h).
All three are reportedly exhausted but safe on board the Overseas Yellowstone.
Go ahead and laugh... These guys are a joke.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Satan lures a desperate man with promises of power and glory, then once the poor sap had commits himself and has nowhere else to turn, those promises turn to dust.
Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter's seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.
"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said tonight.
Specter's office declined to comment.
Poor Arlen. He's just realized that the Dems are just as sleazy and corrupt as he is. And it's too late..., too late..., too late....
Read about it here.
If I were a compassionate conservative I might feel a twinge of pity for poor Arlen, but I'm not, and I don't. He deserves it and I sorta enjoy watching him twist slowly..., slowly in the wind.
It's starting to look like a Sestak vs Toomey matchup in Pa. That could be really interesting.
Read it here.
Of course, who would want to live in a society comprised exclusively or largely of geniuses.
I was thinking about this recently at a Peabody concert. The performers were uniformly young and extremely skilled [this was, after all, the Peabody Institute]. What was disappointing was to note how few young people were in the audience. The exception was a few Asian families who brought their children to hear a couple hours of Mendelssohn and Mozart. Lucky kids, those.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Read about it here.
This morning I heard Joe Scarborough [who is rumored to be interested in re-entering politics] saying pretty much the same thing -- basically that the Republicans have to honor Reagan, but not to follow his ideas slavishly as they attempt to adapt to new circumstances. Scarborough also says that the problems for Democrats are accumulating rapidly and that 2010 looks to be a pretty good year for Republicans. I don't know about that, but there are encouraging indicators out there -- widespread corruption among the Democrats, an over-reaching administration, persistent economic bad news, likelihood of a foreign crisis, etc. One final point made by Scarborough, is that anger does not play well in elections for Republicans. Democrats can get away with being angry because the press will not call them on it, but Republicans have to learn from Reagan that geniality, rather than anger, impresses voters.
As I write, Rush Limbaugh is talking about the tour and Jeb's remarks. His response is interesting. He says that conservatives are not so much looking for a return to Reaganite ideas as looking for a leader who can articulate a coherent conservative position, as Reagan did. He then affirmed that one core principle that cannot be compromised is opposition to abortion. Beyond that he didn't get specific. That means that, for Limbaugh at least, there is a lot of wiggle room for moderates. He also considers people like Romney, and any other participant in the 2008 contest, to be beyond the pale. They had their chance, he argues, they waffled on principles, and they failed -- don't give them another chance because they will fail again. But, and this is significant, Rush was careful to note that he does not include Jeb in that bunch and considers Bush to be a potential leader for the future.
What I take from this is that there is a real conflict going on within the Republican Party, but that there is considerable room for compromise, and that 2010 will be the real test. If moderates do well in the congressional contests of that year, if they do so without compromising on the abortion issue, and if they can focus attention on the horrors being perpetrated by the current administration rather than directing fire at conservatives, they will take control of the Party going into the next Presidential election and mount a serious challenge to the Obamination. If not, then the current internal dissension will continue and so will Democrat dominance.
Read about it here.
Sunday, May 03, 2009
Read it here.
America has wound up with a charming leftist as a president. And this scares me. This scares me not because I hate leftists. I don't. I have many charming leftist friends. They're lovely people - as long as they keep their nose out of things they don't understand. Such as making a living.
When charming leftists stick their nose into things they don't understand they become ratchet-jawed purveyors of monkey-doodle and baked wind. They are piddlers upon merit, beggars at the door of accomplishment, thieves of livelihood, envy coddling tax lice applauding themselves for giving away other people's money. They are the lap dogs of the poly sci-class, returning to the vomit of collectivism. They are pig herders tending that sow-who-eats-her-young, the welfare state. They are muck-dwelling bottom-feeders growing fat on the worries and disappointments of the electorate. They are the ditch carp of democracy.
And that's what one of their friends says.
What he said! "Ditch carp of democracy" I like it!
Read it here.
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Went to the close of the "Picasso to Leger" exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The theme of the exhibit was circuses, so naturally there were a lot of clowns around.
Now that I look at the pictures, some of them look more than a little sinister.
Normally I prefer chamber concerts, but this was special. It was the Peabody Concert Orchestra and the Peabody Singers Peabody-Hopkins Chorus performing Mendelssohn's "Renaissance" Symphony [No. 5 in D major] and Mozart's Mass in C minor, "The Great".
I never cared that much for Mendelssohn, but the Mozart was a treat. Soprano soloist Jennifer Holbrook was particularly impressive. She has a wonderful and versatile instrument, great range and tone, and remarkable precision. Mozart's little joke: You had to feel for the bass soloist, Benjamin Moore, who sat stiffly on stage through the entire performance, trying not to look bored, until the Benediction when he finally got to sing a few bars, and then the show was over.
See clips of the program here, here and here.
Friday, May 01, 2009
Read Nordlinger's post here.
UPDATE: In a followup post Nordlinger provides a short list of admirable people who have expressed their admiration of President Bush. They include Paul Johnson, David Pryce-Jones, Norman Podhoretz, Robert Conquest, Armando Valladares, Natan Sharansky, Álvaro Uribe, Hamid Karzai, Barham Salih, John Howard, and . . . the Dalai Lama.
Read it here.
Some of these are heroes of mine -- it is gratifying to learn that they share my opinion of one of our best Presidents and one of our nation's best men.
Wouldn't that be a great gig for Sarah?
It's really an embarrassment of riches. There are so many beautiful things to photograph here in the gorgeous commonwealth. I may have to make a second post later this weekend to do them justice.
There is a major cultural schism developing in America. But it's not over abortion, same-sex marriage or home schooling, as important as these issues are. The new divide centers on free enterprise -- the principle at the core of American culture.
Regarding the recent round of "tea parties" that sprung up around tax day, he notes:
[T]he tea parties are not based on the cold wonkery of budget data. They are based on an "ethical populism." The protesters are homeowners who didn't walk away from their mortgages, small business owners who don't want corporate welfare and bankers who kept their heads during the frenzy and don't need bailouts. They were the people who were doing the important things right -- and who are now watching elected politicians reward those who did the important things wrong.I like that term, "ethical populism".
And what, in the minds of the protesters, constitutes wrong behavior on the part of government? He points to:
government deficits, unaccountable bureaucratic power, and a sense that the government is too willing to prop up those who engaged in corporate malfeasance and mortgage fraud.These are not specifics; they represent core cultural values. Enormous deficits place an unfair burden on future generations; bureaucratic power short-circuits basic democratic principles; and government tolerance of corporate malfeasance is seen as fundamentally unjust.
Obama's programs and policies are thus, in the minds of many Americans unfair, unjust and undemocratic. I agree! Brooks further feels that this perception could provide the basis for a revitalization of the Republican Party. Of that I am not so certain. I do feel, however, that the charge that Obama is unfair, unjust, and undemocratic does resonate with mainstream Americans -- I know it does with me.
Read the whole thing here.