Get PJ Media on your Apple

Roger’s Rules

Remembering America

October 17th, 2013 - 8:33 am

I was having lunch yesterday with a politically mature Democrat, one of those “Scoop Jackson” fellows you read about in books but — unless you are older than I am — have probably never met outside a book’s pages. These are the chaps who see a fairly large role for government but who are also unabashedly pro-American, favor a robust foreign policy, are allergic to political correctness in all its squalid manifestations, and accordingly are the friends, not the enemies, of meritocracy.

It was a convivial lunch, but with a certain melancholy creeping in around the edges.

Witnessing the unedifying spectacle put on by our masters in Washington this last week or so, we could only shake our heads sadly. And when we contemplated the action of ordinary citizens — those vets who disassembled the “Barrycades” erected in front of national monuments by a punitive Obama administration — we couldn’t help wondering whether the country was teetering towards a pre-revolutionary state. Take a look at this video showing hundreds of veterans confronting park police in riot gear — riot gear! — in front of the White House. How about this photo of a vet: he lost the bottom half of both legs fighting to protect us from foreign enemies, and here he is now, tearing down those Barrycades, fighting to protect our prerogatives as free citizens, protesting the arrogant, overweening actions of a political elite that more and more views us citizens as serfs:

joey_jones2

There is a lot more to be said about the events of the last couple of weeks: the pseudo-shutdown, the ham-handed and ineffectual pontifications of John Boehner, the punitive actions of the increasingly lawless Obama administration. Pundits and markets the world over heaved a collective sigh of relief when this circus of intransigence, stupidity, and preening brinksmanship collapsed on itself yesterday, but what happened is not behind us: it is prelude, not history. We are in the midst of political, social, and moral realignment, the lineaments of which no one’s crystal ball is sufficiently prescient to delineate with anything more than guess and possibilities.

This is a large subject, better suited to a book than a blog post. But let me draw on “The Obamacare Disaster,” an essay by Conrad Black at NRO, to highlight some of the headwinds we face. First, a few data points:

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s people, 25 percent of its incarcerated people, and half of its trained lawyers (who now take about 10 percent of the GDP); the legal system is an embarrassment, and the criminal-justice system is a disgrace, in which prosecutors win 99.5 percent of their cases, 97 percent of them without a trial. The legislators of the country are ultimately responsible for this corruption of what the Constitution and Bill of Rights set up as a just and merciful Society of Laws. The terminal cancer of legal paralysis spreads every week of every year.

Can you doubt that what Black says is true? But what are “we the people” going to do about this metastasizing pathology? Probably, what we have always done: nothing.

Consider the wickedly named “Affordable Care Act.” It owes its very existence, as Black points out, “to political treachery, electoral hijinks, and extreme prosecutorial misconduct”:

The 60-vote level in the Senate was obtained by the subornation of Arlen Specter in that tainted window between his rejection by his own party and his defeat by the Pennsylvania voters, and by Al Franken’s questionable win in the Senate election in Minnesota, where partisan, county-by-county recounts overturned the people’s choice. Also, most egregiously, Republican senator Ted Stevens of Alaska had been narrowly defeated in 2008 after being convicted of taking a bribe — a conviction that was subsequently thrown out because of the prosecutor’s completely improper suppression of exculpatory evidence.

Again, can any candid person cavil with these facts? Black focuses on the enormity that is Obamacare. But he also notes that that disastrous piece of legislation is a sort of synecdoche for a larger disaster: the eclipse of political legitimacy:

This is the governmental equivalent of congestive heart failure. It is the domestic-affairs equivalent of the Syrian policy: the moral imperatives, red lines, “moral obscenity,” punitive action that wouldn’t really be damaging (would, in fact, be “unbelievably small”), and the constitutional position of commander-in-chief devolving to Congress. This has all become surreal.

Indeed it has. But where do we go from here? Black conjured the specter of Cromwell storming Parliament and thundering out its dissolution (“in the name of God go!”). Perhaps it will come to something like that.

I am not sure whether Black’s concluding remarks count as consolatory, or the opposite:

The American people are the greatest talent pool in the world; this is a system that has always worked adequately and often well. It is a democracy, and in a democracy the people are always right and they get the government they deserve. I do not dare to believe that the people that deserved Washington, Lincoln, the Roosevelts, Truman, Eisenhower, and Reagan (and chose them a total of 14 times) deserve this.

One question, I suppose, is where exactly are the successors of these titans? Not, I think, in Washington, D.C.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
I learned something today that I think is emblematic of what we are facing in America in 2013. My elderly disabled neighbor and friend, a retired math professor from a prestigious small college, has told our landlord not to allow her grand-daughter into her apartment under any circumstances because she steals her money and credit cards and can't be trusted. We live in an idyllic, picturesque, very safe small town where the threat comes, not from marauding criminals, but from within the family. Has morality and simple human decency been extracted from the American character? And what is to blame?

We Americans have always had a suspicion of what used to be called high culture and a reluctance to engage with it because to do so was considered European and effete. In my youth there were those referred to as "culture vultures", people who grazed the surface of art and literature just enough to toss out a few facts to impress the folks at the dinner party but whose true understanding was minimal. Mass culture was our American culture. a homogenized culture brought to us through movies, radio and TV. This was a culture of superficialities, easy to understand and digest with no effort and which rarely elevated us but which, instead, made us feel good about ourselves. We devoured it and the rest of the world did, too, giving the creators of the mass culture great power that had never before been possible. To make a long story short, the power of mass culture fell into the wrong hands at the wrong time, the '60s, and was turned into a weapon against the morality, self-reliance and self-respect that had sustained us as a society. It's going to take a miracle to recover what we've lost.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
Prosecutor, eh?

"We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them...you create a nation of lawbreakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden."
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
That video with the Police facing the Veterans is the saddest thing I have seen in a while, politically speaking.

Very sad.

Metal batons in their hands. To face People who have risked their lives and limbs for the Freedom of us all.

Let us pray.

Let us pray.
40 weeks ago
40 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (55)
All Comments   (55)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
"[T]he legal system is an embarrassment, and the criminal-justice system is a disgrace, in which prosecutors win 99.5 percent of their cases, 97 percent of them without a trial."

Do you know how hard you have to work to be put on trial? Are we now going to add to our collapse by making sure the worst people among us don't get incarcerated? Worrying about the conviction rate of criminals should rank about 15,897th on the list of things to fix.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem is they are not just convicting real criminals, but otherwise innocent people who have fallen to the excesses of the regulatory state, and overzealous prosecutors.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
The ruling class is transfixed in a gnostic dream world. They perceive themselves alone as possessing immanent enlightenment - the vision and a method to perfect society. Along with another theoretical fallacy, that our order is now a necessary and permanent part of the universe. How often do we hear the statement "end of history"? Well ladies and gentlemen our elites have internalized the non-recognition of reality as a matter of principle. It is more than a mood, the logic of the gnostic mind is based on their understanding of cause and effect in the dream.

I suggest you research Eric Voegelin and gnosticism, he gives the reader a conceptual definition for understanding our contemporary crisis. He is worthy of your efforts, his work was written over sixty years ago yet in making statements such as "propaganda for moral insanity" and "clarification of problems will be seen as an immoral enterprise"; don't these ring true today? Instead of just getting set off by the latest hare brained antics of elites, find out why and see that nothing will persuade them out of their agenda.

It's remarkable how Roger makes reference to Black's comment on the Puritans, in the "New Science of Politics" chapter 5 discusses in detail their lust for power under the mask of religiosity along with a willingness to allow any form of chaos and disruption of public order so long as society failed to represent their specific form of truth.

Doesn't that seem rather similar to today?
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Little by little the tendency toward civil unrest and civil ignoring the stupidity coming out of our inept Congress and White house .
The Royalty in France ignored the people and the result ,the people picked up their pitch forks and torches. You know what the did with their corrupt leaders.
Washington ,beware
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Unfortunately the French revolution also executed a lot of innocent people, just for the crime of honestly making money. If we have a revolution, lets make sure it is more like the American Revolution, than the French one.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Roger: You might be the only person in the English-speaking world to use the word "enormity" in its proper sense. You write: "Black focuses on the enormity that is Obamacare."

Everyone else, including especially college professors and public-school teachers, believes that the word denotes "magnitude" or "immensity," whereas you correctly use the word to mean "monstrous evil," "overwhelming and unrestrained flagitiousness,' or "outrage."

The pedestrian eggheads whom I mentioned above simply sniff at the point. But the distinction strikes right to the heart of your thesis. I guess I'm naive to expect precision from our tenured radicals.

Thank you for your column and your English.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
@MeridianMan: It's clear Mr. Kimball is using "enormity" to mean "monstrous evil" as you say. However, "enormity" can also be used to mean "hugeness" and it has been used with that meaning since the 18th century.
===================
USAGE NOTE: (from OnLine Dictionary): 3. Enormity has been in frequent and continuous use in the sense “immensity” since the 18th century: "The enormity of the task was overwhelming."
Some hold that enormousness is the correct word in that sense and that enormity can only mean “outrageousness” or “atrociousness”: "The enormity of his offenses appalled the public."
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
We are about to gain an extreme appreciation for the 2nd Amendment.

That will be the catalyst, when they come for our guns.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
That was the catalyst in 1775, though few realise it. After a long train of abuses from an out of control tyrannical and illegal government usurping power not theirs, the boy-king ordered his lackeys in North America to begin disarming the colonists, his supposed "subjects". General Thomas Gage, the COmmander in Chief of all military forces, and governor over all the colonies, dispatched some 800 handpicked soldiers to effect a fourth powder raid, this time on the communities of Lexington and Concord. The element of surprise, carefully guarded but not sufficiently, had been lost, the British military force were met with Colonial militia force... the locals, armed with their own weapons ("stupid farmers with squirrelguns") mustered and stood fast on the Commons at Lexington. Disarmament was indeed the core issue..... this time the Colonials had gotten a copy of the letter and orders from the king, and knew full well his intent to disarm them. Captain Parker, of the Lexington Militia, declared as his troops were waiting the arrival of the Redcoats, "we don't want a war, but if they mean to have one, let it begin here". It did.

WILL WE make the same stand? Disarmed people are slaves. Our history, and the more recent history of Europe and much of Asia proves it over and over. They defied the order to "lay down your arms and disperse", knowing the seizure of those very arms, all personal property of the men holding them, would be the end of their resistance, and their fervent hope for liberty. They dispersed, but did NOT lay down their arms.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
My father in 86, my father in law is 94, both World War 2 veterans. I have told them both that they are frankly reaching the end of their lives not a moment too soon, since they were at the peak of their lives when America was at the peak of its greatness. They (fortunately?) will not live to see the final dissolution of the country they love so dearly and risked their lives to defend.

I weep for the future of my children. I posted in 2003 (not linking, just take my word for it),

"When my children are my age, they will not be free in any recognizably traditional American meaning of the word. I’d tell them to emigrate, but there’s nowhere left to go. I am left with nauseating near-conviction that I am a member of the last generation in the history of the world that is minimally truly free."

I never imagined, 10 years ago, that it would happen so quickly.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...we couldn’t help wondering whether the country was teetering towards a pre-revolutionary state."

'I've said the same thing, numerous times in the past. You folks aid I was nuts. "It just can't happen in America!"

Welcome to the real world, my fellow Americans. Please, enjoy your stay.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
When did we become a democracy?
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
1964 was the first time I heard: “If they are entitled to steal from me I am entitled to get what I can when I can”. I will always believe that LBJ’s Great Society was the catalyst that got the ball rolling in destroying the ethics of honesty and honest work while each new entitlement moved it further. When people who have never worked a day in their lives can live better with no effort, why bust your rear? Honesty and hard work is not the way to get ahead. That is for suckers. Your government has spent 17 Trillion dollars of other people’s money since 1964 making true believers of multiple generations of entitled dependent takers. Those true believers are now in charge of government. Hard work and honesty is for suckers who will have their earnings taken.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let s also not forget things like OSHA and the EPA which destroyed our manufacturing base ad the only good jobs strong backs with weak minds can do, if they are going to pay for a house, car, family, etc.
OSHA is a protection racket, straight up. The environment will never be clean enough for the EPA.
THAT'S why the Chinese and Indians make all our stuff, now.
That's why dumb men don't have good jobs here, any more.
39 weeks ago
39 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 4 Next View All