More on 'class'.

Via American Digest, I came across this post by the Anchoress, "Wealth Porn and Cognitive Dissonance at Grey Lady" where she discusses this article by Dick Meyers.

A money quote from the article:

"Bill Clinton didn't bash the rich a lot, but he could have; Johns Kerry and Edwards did bash the rich a lot, and it flopped. It flopped partly because Americans who are not rich simply do not have a European-style, class base resentment. Americans aspire to being rich. That's the American way. But the '04 Democratic rhetoric also flopped because the guys spewing looked like such phonies; they weren't just rich, they were richer than the Republicans: they were hyper-rich."

And its this that strikes both Meyers and the Anchoress about the NY Times. Blathering on about class in a Red sort of way, while advertising to the Hyper-rich (Not that I really like that term, hyper, as it smacks of Braulliard), but still.

I saw more of this 'wealth porn' this very morning while waiting for my car's oil to be changed--the TV had on the morning news of ABC's New York Affiliate, where apparently one of the important stories this morning (along with the Michael Jackson trial, and that lost girl in Aruba) was one on the British Royal Family, and I thought to myself, "Why on Earth is this important at all to Americans?" For some strange reason, there was also a copy of a recent Conde Nast Traveller magazine, which, frankly, is just chock full of the stuff.

It used to be, I think, that people really weren't so aware of this. I can't say why exactly, although I think the monopoly that media had on information distribution had something to do with it.

That has changed. It can only be a good thing it has.

Differences Between Men and Women


Cassandra recommends this guide to female psychology. Normally I'm opposed to psychology, but this one appears to be pretty solid, if my own experience is any guide.

At least, the parts about Roger are right on.

"Mr. Company President is sexy!"

Yeah. I know. WTF?

Since we've been discussing fashion (or lack thereof) I thought I'd highlight this item I came across on the Drudge Report:

Japan's Middle-Aged Men Start to Preen

Is it a sign of the Apocalypse? I dunno. But be prepared for more of this sort of thing. Since one way the Japanese government has decided to deal with global warming is to get its office workers to turn down the air conditioning, I think we're going to see more of this.

I wonder if it will spread? I know I'd rather not be wearing a tie in the summer.

Winds of Change.NET: Zimbabwe Changed My Mind: Guns Are A Human Right

Welcome, Joe:

A big welcome to Canadian Joe Katzman of Winds of Change, who has come over to join those of us who assert that the right to bear arms is a human right of the first importance. He has a strong post about it today.

Those of you who would like to consider the issue ought to start with A Human Right, which is linked in the "Gunfighting and Bladework" section. It is an excellent resource on several levels, by an artist and former citizen of the Soviet Union. Those of you who are already convinced on one side or another will still find thoughtful argument (and some very clever posters the fellow has made), but the real target audience is those who are still thinking about it, or those who used to be convinced who have begun to think it over anew.

The Fourth Rail: Sometimes "Cowboy Diplomacy" Means Learning A Little Lakota

Fourth Rail:

I have accepted Bill Roggio's kind invitation to become a regular blogger at The Fourth Rail. I will be doing blogging on the war / national security issues.

Blogging on cultural issues, social issues, domestic politics, and entertaining stories will continue here at Grim's Hall.

Kim du Toit - Daily Rant

Joel Was Right:

Joel Leggett warned me about this.

I think that any self-respecting individual should take the time to ensure that their grooming and apparel standards are up to snuff. Nevertheless, I categorically reject the idea that an obsessive concern with the latest fashion trends is the hallmark of gentlemen. That is the hallmark of a fop. Remember, the concept of the gentleman comes the tradition of chivalry, which was itself an ethical system for fighting men, not fashion models.
Exactly right, I said -- but since we've never discussed it before, we can hardly be charged with "obsessive concern." Just trying to sort out the rules, once and for all.

Well, it seemed reasonable at the time. I now see that this kind of thing gets out of hand quickly. Today even Kim du Toit is giving fashion advice:
I have only one simple fashion rule: Never, never wear Realtree camo after Halloween. It has served me well.
That's good advice. I myself have only four rules, which I'm going to lay out here and then leave the topic forever:

1) Khakis and cowboy boots for "work" at the office, blue jeans and ropers for real work.

2) Boots and belt should match the sheath of your knife or pistol, unless it's going to be concealed anyway.

3) Never leave home without a good hat. Not only will it protect you from wind, sun, and rain, but if you get too cold it will help you stay warm, and if you get too hot you can fill it with water and dump it on your head.

4) You should either wear a beard or moustache, or you should shave cleanly and properly. Trying to look like Aragorn, when you haven't actually been living in the Wild for the last few months, only makes you look like a jackass.

There you go.

Next topic: First Aid Kits. The Geek with a .45 asked for advice, and Doc came through with flying colors.

I don't have anything to add to Doc's comments, which are far better informed than my own ideas about such things. Like the Geek, I took First Aid and Lifesaving in the Boy Scouts. I took away a different lesson from him: instead of needing a proper first aid kit, my instructor suggested that you could fix most anything that can be cured with one of these and one of these. Splint a limb? Rig a sling? Bind a wound? Make a tourniquet? That's all you need.

My sense is that Doc has the better idea, but I'm not sure I'd know how to use an epi pen -- what is one, anyway? "A disposable drug delivery system," so the page says. Looks like one of those Star Trek injectors. I'm a fighter, not a doctor, dammit!

Move over Rambo, you're cramping new man's style - Yahoo! News

Not The Road You Think It Is:

You surely saw the AFP article featuring the man wearing his suspenders backwards. "All the traditional male values of authority, infallibility, virility and strength are being completely overturned," says the article. I saw it on Southern Appeal, which responds in exactly the way I'd expect: a flat and proper rejection of the aesthetics involved.

What interests me about the article, though, is something a bit further down from the headline.

The designers claim that this "overturning" of "traditional male values" is being driven by that most traditional and bedrock of all male values: Courage.

"The traditional man still exists in China, Le Louet said, and 'is not ready to go'. But in Europe and the United States, a new species is emerging, apparently unafraid of anything.

'He is looking for a more radical affirmation of who he is, and wants to test out all the barbarity of modern life' including in the sexual domain, said Le Louet[.]
There are two things to be said about this. First, this is not a new trend, but a remergence of a primitive one. Second, it has already been tried in the modern world, and has proven to be a disaster.

To the first point: you may remember the character in Little Big Man who rode his horse backwards. This was a reflection of a real kind of Cheyenne warrior called a "Contrary," or a "Contrary clown." Like the character in the movie, these warriors were the sort who were most devoted to proving their courage -- so much so that they openly invited ridicule, yet made themselves so dangerous that few would dare to offer it.

The same drive has been seen in any number of primitive societies, often associated with shamanism, as it often was among the Cheyenne as well. The exploration of boundaries is meant to break them down for you; and the exploration of sexual and other boundaries is meant to train the spirit in the habits of courage it needs to be brave enough to break through the boundaries between worlds.

It may be that many in Europe, and in certain portions of the United States as well, are genuinely frightened by the boundaries they see falling apart before their eyes. The demographic changes in Europe, particularly, mean that much of the walls that have held society together are falling apart: religious attendance has all but ceased in Europe, and birth rates are falling, and there is massive immigration of unassimilated people of different culture; and there is economic worry, such as the French displayed in their recent vote on the EU, that the social support systems on which they rely may be failing.

Under these circumstances, it is not at all surprising to see a resurgance of this primitive form. It is, in its way, reasonable. If all the barriers are falling, and there is nothing you can do to put them back up again, it makes some sense to explore what sort of character you must adopt to survive after the catastrophe. Exposing yourself to sexual humiliation -- to "all the barbarity of modern life, including in the sexual domain" -- may help you prepare for the greater and final humiliations that are to come. It may ease your passage into this new world, as it does the shaman's.

Before adopting this movement, though, you should consider Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wilde was one of many who adopted this same idea in the last century, when the industrial revolution was also breaking down barriers in Europe. He too sought out 'the barbarities of modern life,' especially in the sexual domain. He also thought of it as expressing a kind of courage: he called it "The Time of Feasting with Panthers," in which "the danger was half the excitement."

The problem with breaking down barriers between yourself and other worlds, is that it can cause you to lose touch with this world. Traditional shaman often appear to be mad, even though they have a place in their culture that supports what they do. Modern life lacks one. You can see the results in Wilde's writings:
My own experience is that the more we study Art, the less we care for Nature. What Art really reveals to us is Nature's lack of design, her curious crudities, her extraordinary monotony, her absolutely unfinished condition.
Wilde wrote that 'sunsets are not valued because we cannot pay for sunsets.' Chesterton replied, "But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde."

And, in time, Oscar Wilde himself came to agree. In his prison writings, he had reconsidered. Having found the ultimate humiliation, which he had so sought among the Panthers, he found that the next world, the world without sunsets, was not at all to his liking.
For us there is only one season, the season of sorrow. The very sun and moon seem taken from us. Outside, the day may be blue and gold, but the light that creeps down through the thickly-muffled glass of the small iron-barred window beneath which one sits is grey and niggard. It is always twilight in one's cell, as it is always twilight in one's heart.... I know also that much is waiting for me outside that is very delightful, from what St. Francis of Assisi calls 'my brother the wind, and my sister the rain,' lovely things both of them, down to the shop-windows and sunsets of great cities. If I made a list of all that still remains to me, I don't know where I should stop: for, indeed, God made the world just as much for me as for any one else.
But he had cast away the world made for him, and sought another. By breaking down those barriers, by seeking out humiliation, he found himself in just the place that Chesterton described later in his work:
We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff's edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased.
So it is here, and now, and would be shamen should mark it. We do live in fearful times, but Man always has.

The proper response is not to cast aside the world, but to defend the walls. The fashion that will save you is not the fashion of wearing backwards suspenders.

It is the fashion of wearing a sword.

The Blue Bus is calling us...: Let's play tag


I've seen this game played on other websites -- poor Cassandra was hit with several of these recently.

Well, I must disappoint Lizard Queen somewhat, as I never forward chain letters. Still, I will answer the questions, since she asked.

1) Number of books I own: I would be hard pressed to guess. Several thousand, surely. It's inexcusable, because my wife and I move annually. Every year, I promise myself that I will simply donate most of them to the local library, rather than lug the hundreds of pounds of boxed books to another location. So far, I've never managed to actually do so. I keep having visions of the Great Library that I will have someday, in some house far away where we finally manage to stay.

2) Last book I bought: It happened that I finished the book I was reading Monday morning, on the train to D.C. As a result, I needed a new book to read on the way back. In a used bookstore, I found a copy of Flashman on sale for seventy-five cents. I'd heard of the great Flashman stories, but never read any, so I thought I'd give it a try. Our Mr. Blair would like it.

3) Last book I read: I normally read several books at a time, usually one or two nonfiction as well as a novel. My book reading has to take a back seat to my professional reading, plus also to my son and wife. As a result, I end up reading in snatches, and tend to grab whichever of the two or three books is closest to hand when I find that I have a moment.

I'm about to finish McLemore's Bowie And Big-Knife Fighting System, which was recommended by Daniel. The book I finished on the train was The Iron Marshal by Louis L'Amour, another used-bookstore purchase that ran me all of one dollar. I have a couple of others I'm working on as well, but they're closer to started than finished.

4) Five books that mean a lot to me: In no particular order: Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (to include The Hobbit as a prequel), Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse, the Beowulf, the Poetic Edda, and Lord's The Singer of Tales.

Now that I've chosen them, I see that there is a strong theme running through the selection. The four fictional works are all epic literature, in fact, Northern European epic poetry (excepting Tolkien, which includes both prose and poetry). The nonfiction book, Lord's, is only a history of life among some of the last surviving traditional epic poets, Turkish 'singers of tales' living at the turn of the 20th century.

I won't be tagging anyone. However, any of you regulars who want to do so are welcome to sound off in the comments. I'd enjoy hearing what some of your favorites are -- as you can tell from the list above, I do take suggestions from you on what to read myself. So far, that has worked out well!

The Belmont Club

People You Can Meet in Warrenton, VA:

I met a gentleman today of many years and poor hearing. After a while, I discovered -- not that he told me, but another man did while he was out of range -- that the old gent was a former B-17 pilot with the 8th Army Air Force during World War II. He had five thousand hours in a B-17.

The Eighth Army Air Force -- the Air Force, not the Eighth Army as a whole -- had higher combat losses in WWII than the United States Marine Corps.

Think about Iwo Jima, and then think about that.

But it's true: 19,733 Marines were killed in World War II. The Mighty Eighth lost 26,000.

I understand he still gets up and flies now and then, with a local Flying Circus, age, sight and hearing notwithstanding. Good for him.

I also learned that the guy who developed the M1A SOCOM II rifle is a resident of the town. He's a former Marine, and would prefer not to have his name associated with the business for political reasons: apparently the development of the rifle occasioned some jealousy between SOCOM and the Department of Justice, which had originally asked for the weapon as a platform for helicopter-based snipers in drug interdiction raids.

But come down to Warrenton some time. Have an afternoon drink at Molly's pub, on main street. You may learn you are sitting beside one of these gents, if only you have ears to hear.

As for me, at the end of the month I move on. But it's been a nice town, and one I shall visit regularly.

Winds of Change.NET: David's (Nuclear) Sling: The EMP Threat


Winds of Change today has a report, drawing from Congressional and other sources, which suggests that the United States could be wiped out by a single nuclear weapon. The population would survive the initial blast, because it would be detonated so high -- but the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) would wipe out most of the circuitry and electronics in the nation. The US, as a first world, 21st-century country, would cease to exist.

The aftermath of that is almost impossible to imagine, but it would certainly include: mass starvation, as the networks of food provision fall apart in the absence of most of the aircraft / trains / etc, which now all work on electronics; disease; the collapse, not only of the American economy, but of the world economy, which is largely driven by American consumption; and worldwide chaos, as the nation that guarantees the world's overall security vanished from the scene.

The report suggests immediate moves to contain the threat, mostly pre-emptive:

We must make it difficult and dangerous to acquire the materials to make a nuclear weapon and the means to deliver them. We must hold at risk of capture or destruction anyone who has such weaponry, wherever they are in the world. Those who engage in or support these activities must be made to understand that they do so at the risk of everything they value. Those who harbor or help those who conspire to create these weapons must suffer serious consequences as well.

To be effective, these measures will require vastly improved intelligence, the capacity to perform clandestine operations the world over, and the assured means of retaliating with devastating effect.

That is to say, these measures cannot be effective. If "vastly improved intelligence" could be bought or easily made, we would have done so. There is very little that can be done, for example, to "vastly improve" our intelligence capability where a North Korea is concerned.

The recommendation for a ballistic missile shield is more reasonable. A ballistic missile is the only effective way for a potential enemy to boost a nuke to the required altitude. The ability to shoot down such a thing -- already a serious concern of the US military -- would largely mitigate the threat.

Another suggestion was to improve our civilian capability to recover from such an attack. This is trickier than the report suggests, though, as it requires a redundancy of manufacture that is ongoing. It's not enough to stockpile some extra generators and the like in a shielded location; we have to continue to stockpile new material for the entire nationwide grid (and, where our overseas forces are concerned, the global grid) as technology improves. This raises the cost of such increases, and would tend to brake economic and technical growth.

Of the panel's suggestions, the ballistic missile shield is the best option. It's worth recognizing that there is a serious threat, but one that requires the enemy to hit a narrow window. We should devote whatever resources are needed to close that window. It will be cheaper, not only than the results of a successful attack, but even than the other methods of attempting to avert one.


The Major's Lady:

I had meant to post a link to Lornkanaga's site some time ago; I was only waiting confirmation from her that she'd want a link from me. However, since she's still hanging around, I assume she doesn't mind the association. She is linked by her chosen title, "The Major's Lady," in the "Gunfighting" section of links.

Spanking on Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Financial Planning for Women:

The Chinese viewpoint has something to be said for it, surely.

The South China Morning Post is a perfectly respectable publication out of Hong Kong, for the record. Having lived in China myself, I have a couple of friends in country, one Australian in particular who occasionally brings items of this sort to my attention. The article is from 22 May; it took a little while to find a place that had the graphic posted online.

Naturally, it turns out that there is a blog that keeps track of such things. Adult content warning(!), which is highly unusual for Grim's Hall, but it's only fair to cite the source that located the picture.

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Colombia Paper Offers to Host Vote Blogs

Colombian Presidential Bloggers:

According to this AP report, the largest newspaper in the nation of Colombia is offering to host blogs for the candidates for President.

I think this is exciting news, not only because it shows the increasing power of bloggers -- so much power, that even wannabe Presidents want to be us! -- but also because it shows something of maturity in Colombia's political system. Colombia looked a lot worse and more dangerous a few years back. Now, it has a hotly contested Presidential race, and enough freedom of speech and the press to have blogs for all the candidates.


Thomas Jefferson's Reaction, Marbury v. Madison, Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Judges: What is at Stake

Since Noel has me thinking about this, I would like to express an opinion on what this debate is really about. The rhetoric surrounding this debate has long ago spun off into personal attacks on the Left, whereas the Right debates about how democratic principles are expressed through the peculiar mechanics of the Senate. Neither issue has anything to do with what is really being decided here, although -- perversely, for a lover of logic -- the ad hominem attacks of the Left come closer to the substance. Though they are each an expression of an informal fallacy, they do at least grace the surface of the matters at issue. The parliamentary arguments avoid those issues entirely.

There are two issues for which our side is really fighting:

1) The Bill of Rights, where we are either asking for the government to stop ignoring parts they find troublesome -- the Second, Ninth and Tenth Amendments, for example -- or, for the government to reinterpret existing understandings in a way we find more amenable to individual liberty (e.g., the Establishment Clause, to allow for a more open expression of religious principle by individuals, even though they be judges or military officers, and groups, even though they be Boy Scouts).

2) A great rebalancing of the power of the Judicial branch with the other two branches of the Federal government, which is the third such effort in the history of our Republic.

The two previous large-scale attempts to rebalance judicial power were the early struggle between Jefferson and Madison, and the famous "Supreme Court Packing" attempt by FDR. Both of these are usually portrayed as failures by the Executive and victories by the Judiciary. I think that this is an incomplete understanding.

It is easy to see why people have that understanding, however. Consider Thomas Jefferson's reaction to Marbury, and you will see that the Supreme Court carried the day. Judicial review by the USSC has prevailed entirely over Jefferson's suggested alternatives, a Constitutional convention or the regular use of the amendment process.

Nevertheless, Jefferson was nearly right that Marbury made the Constitution "a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please." The judiciary of the day was rather restrained in comparison with our own, which invents new rights out of "penumbras," and denies plainly expressed rights either by refusing to apply them, or by pretending to find them too difficult to understand.

If the conflict had ended with Marbury, the Court would have had a complete victory. It did not, however. The Jefferson Administration joined with Congress in further attempts to restrain judicial authority. These met with only mixed success, on their face: some of the particular acts succeeded, and others failed.

Here is the thing that is usually missed, and the great success of the movement: the USSC did not overturn another law on constitutional grounds for half a century. While it retained the power to do so, in practice it stopped thwarting legislative intent and executive power.

This seems to me something to feel good about. It does not really serve any citizen's interests to see the judiciary subordinated to the other branches. On the other hand, it must not be allowed to be the final authority, or it becomes superior rather than co-equal. This was a success for the Republic. The Court retained the power to rule on constitutionality of laws, but it recognized that it did so at peril of drawing the fire of the people and the other branches. As such, it acted with great circumspection in applying this power.

Contrast with today. Now, any law in any state that is in any way controversial is instantly slapped with a lawsuit and taken into court as unconstitutional. Federal courts today rule laws unconstitutional as a regular affair, and often on purely procedural grounds. Consider this First Amendment case:

A federal judge ended the ban on Confederate flags in Hurricane High School, in part because the overwhelmingly white school does not have a history of racial tension or violence... Copenhaver wrote that he lifted the school’s ban on Confederate flags because the school has not had “flag-based physical violence between students, a pervasive background of demonstrated racial hostility or the involvement of any hate groups aligned on either side of a serious racial divide.”

Without that racial turmoil, the school does not have the right to trample on Bragg’s First Amendment right to express himself freely, Copenhaver ruled.

“That was the key, that the flag didn’t cause any problems there,” said Bragg’s American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, Roger Forman of Charleston. “You know, as long as the flag is properly used it is not a symbol of hate, and I think it’s fair to say that’s what [Copenhaver] found.”
Leave aside the question of whether the Confederate flag is appropriate. There are two other matters more important. The first point here is that it either is a form of political speech, or it is not; and if it is, the First Amendment's language is plain: "Congress shall make no law... abridging the Freedom of Speech[.]" Not, "unless it would cause tension." There is a principle here, not a procedure.

The second is that the Courts feel so free to exercise the power to rule on constitutionality that they do it even in matters relating not even to laws of overwhelming importance, but to the internal disciplinary rules of a single High School -- this particular one, which has no tension, as opposed to any other one, which might. It is bad enough that every sphere of human organization is brought under the rule of the Federal Courts. It is worse that they feel no restraint whatsoever in exercising that power. It is worst of all that they feel so expansive as to freely state that the First Amendment means one thing at your school, and another at a school across the way.

The First Amendment is a ball of wax. This power of the courts strips it of the ability to serve as a guiding principle. The Constitution is harmed by this.

FDR's court-packing "scheme," as it is usually called, was the second great movement to rebalance the relationship with the judiciary. What is important here is that it had broadly the same results as the first: the attempt as such failed. However, the court -- which had until that point been ruling New Deal programs unconstitutional both left and right -- ceased to ban FDR's reforms. The government as we know it today, the one that all good Liberals admire, is the result of that rebalancing. Faced with the combined ire of the Executive and Legislature, the court stayed on the field only long enough to win the discrete battle. It then left democracy alone for a great while, using its tremendous power only when absolutely necessary.

The third such rebalancing is upon us. Once again, it isn't particularly important if this or that battle is won. What is important is that the courts be reminded of who the real arbiters of Constitutionality are.

And who are they? The very ones Jefferson identified:
But the Chief Justice says, 'There must be an ultimate arbiter somewhere.' True, there must; but does that prove it is either [the judiciary or the executive]? The ultimate arbiter is the people of the Union, assembled by their deputies in convention, at the call of Congress or of two-thirds of the States.
The true arbiter of the Constitution, of what it means and how it ought to apply, is the people.

The Court has, despite Jefferson, been allowed to serve as a proxy for that. It has not captured the authority from the people, however; it has only been lent it. Twice before the people have, through their representatives, reminded the court that the power must be used responsibly, or it will be removed entirely. It is time to do so again. The judiciary likely will retain the power, as they have in the past; but they also will be more circumspect, as they were in the past.

I think that Pat Buchanan, with whom I broadly disagree on most points, was right about what the results of this revolution will be. It will be a greater degree of rule by the people:
If Americans were a self-governing people, ours would be a different country. There would be voluntary prayer in the schools and term limits on members of Congress. Pornography would be restricted. There would be legislated limits on "abortion rights." The Citadel and VMI would still have their all-male cadet corps. America's cities would never have been torn apart by the lunacy of forced busing for racial balance. And, at Christmas, we could drive through town and see a beautiful display of the Nativity scene, with carolers singing "Silent Night."
I dissent from the rest of Buchanan's piece, but I think this is where we are heading. I shall be glad to get there. What he is describing is nothing other than the America in which I grew up: it is home.

It is in this sense that the Left's ad hominems are closer to the truth than the tactical maneuvers of the Right, which talk about "up and down votes" and fairness and filibusters. There is a real revolution intended.

Where the Left may be wrong is in asserting that its practitioners are "out of the mainsteam." My expectation is that it is just the other way around. These tactical maneuvers of the Right are a serious mistake because they expend resources on what can only be a tactical victory.

We stand on the ground for winning a strategic victory, and we ought to press for it. Buchanan really is an extremist, but let as much of his vision stand as was quoted here. Who wants to go before the American people and oppose it?

Nor needs the Left to fear the decision, when it comes, for it will not sweep anything away from their redoubts. The restraint of the federal judiciary can only protect their interests, as it is the federal judiciary which often requires national solutions to divisive questions. Its restraint is a victory for federalism, which means for example that the "legislated restraints" on abortion may be as light as the bluest blue state chooses to enact. That leaves the Left in a stronger position than if the federal judiciary is unrestrained and -- as seems inevitable, given the composition of the Senate -- eventually swings further and further right.

This is what is really at stake. It is come time, as such times come now and again, to fight another skirmish to reassert a border. The border establishes the proper place for judicial authority. We 'who wi' Jefferson bled,' and ye who did with FDR, ought to unite on the question. It is in our interest, as it was in theirs: we for the yeoman farmer, and you for a local law that protects the programs and legal understandings you prefer.

In this, as in so much, we are brothers and sisters.

Sharp Knife

Founders Talk:

Sharp Knife has one of Noel's always-thoughtful, always-informative comparisons of founding documents with modern, ah, thinking. In this case, he is looking at how Alexander Hamilton would have spoken to the recent acts of Mr. McCain.

Noel does these things regularly, they are always worth reading. This is a rare occasion for me, in that I think I disagree with the results he draws from the comparison.

I find the concept of a deal of this sort less bothersome than Noel does. It has the advantage of being open and transparent. It certainly is antidemocratic, in the sense of being anti-majority.

On the other hand, the entire purpose of the Senate was to provide a brake on majority rule, much as the House of Lords used to do. Hamilton himself would probably not have been seriously bothered by the idea of fourteen or so Senators standing half the nation at bay. If anything, I think this sort of thing is what the Senate was designed to do.

It happens that I disagree with the principles the fourteen are seeking to impose, and would probably prefer that the majority rule in this case. In that sense, Noel and I are surely in agreement.

I don't, however, follow him in asserting that it is improper to do what has here been done. My sense is that our Constitution (and the British one also) was in better shape when the Upper House was more strongly active in this fashion. It does slow what we are pleased to think of as progress; but we of all people should be most suspicious of the concept of "progress" in legal and social matters. In science, yes: progress always. But not so in the law, and not in society.

If it is really a good thing -- if it is really "progress" -- it will come in time. There are benefits to waiting. For one thing, human wisdom is uncertain, and what seems right now may seem wrong with a few years' more learning behind us. We may thus be saved from a mistake, however hard it may be to conceive of it as a mistake at this point in time.

For another, if it proves that we are right, we shall only grow stronger by waiting. The Senate, as the House of Lords, is not impervious to democracy -- it is only somewhat more resistant to democracy. If these principles prove out in time, as I expect them to do, they will be strong enough to remake the Senate in future elections. For the price of waiting, we shall find ourselves in a far stronger position in the future. We shall find ourselves there, that is, if we are right: but I believe that we are, and therefore am pleased to play out the game and collect what I expect to be real rewards.

McCain may be detestable as a Senator -- surely is detestable, if only for McCain-Feingold, which remains a great abomination of the law. On that too, however, we shall prevail in time. When we do, it will not be in a narrow partisan fashion. Because we were patient and let the Republic work according to its intended fashion, our eventual victory will be one to shake the stars.