Archive for September, 2018
30 Sep 2018

Back in 1991, Joe Biden Discredits Jeff Flake and Today’s Judiciary Committee Democrats

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30 Sep 2018

Why Did Democrats Smear a Straight Arrow Guy Like Kavanaugh?


Judiciary Committee democrats.

John Hinderaker has an explanation that works.

One question I have pondered over the last few weeks is, why are the Democrats so determined to block Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court? Realistically, he is the most moderate nominee they are likely to see from the Trump administration. If his nomination fails, the president will most likely appoint Amy Barrett, who is secure against #MeToo allegations and is both more conservative and younger than Kavanaugh. So what is the point?

To some extent, the Democrats’ bizarre smear campaign against Kavanaugh is explicable on short-term political grounds. The Democrats’ crazed base demands that they #Resist, so resist they will, whether it does any good or not. But I think there is something deeper and more sinister at work.

Brett Kavanaugh enjoys one of the most spotless reputations of anyone in American public life. He has been enthusiastically endorsed by those who have known him all his life–by girls he knew in high school and college, by judges he has served with, by professors and students and Harvard and Yale law schools, by judges who have worked with him, by his judicial clerks–most of whom have been women–by the American Bar Association, by sitting Supreme Court justices. In short, everyone who has ever known or dealt with Brett Kavanaugh endorses him.

I think that Judge Kavanaugh’s pristine reputation is one reason why the Democrats have unleashed against him a smear campaign unparalleled in American history. This is the message they are trying to send: If we can do this to the Boy Scout Brett Kavanaugh, we can do it to anyone. Are you thinking of serving in a Republican administration? Or accepting an appointment to the federal judiciary from a Republican president? Think twice, and then think again.


29 Sep 2018

“Advise and Consent” Meets “Rashomon”

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Rashomon (1950).

Lance Morrow found the Kavanaugh Confirmation hearing Thursday reminding him of some classic cinema

The story of the Kavanaugh affair had the elements of a black-and-white movie from long ago: “Advise & Consent” retold as “Rashomon,” a masterpiece of tabloid civics in the old Washington style. When the day was over, everyone was depressed about the country; some said this was a new low. And yet everyone had been richly entertained. Only Frank Capra, returned from the dead, could have done the day justice. …

After Ms. Ford finished her testimony, the audience voted, informally, and the verdict was all but unanimous. “Kavanaugh is toast,” a friend emailed from London. On Fox News Channel, Chris Wallace said the same. Blood drained from faces in the West Wing.

The #MeToo movement sensed victory and vindication. You can imagine what Capra would have done with the moment: a fast montage of jubilant American women’s faces, energized.

But then came a ferocious turning of the plot, a great reversal—the sort of thing they teach in courses called How to Write a Brilliant Hollywood Script.

Judge Kavanaugh—previously all judicial temperament, all gravitas and family man—came hot into the committee room, now almost weeping, now insulting the Democrats (who recoiled a little), his distinctively Murland accent (that’s Maryland) harsh and a little reckless, his figurative middle finger extended toward the Democrats, whom he acknowledged now to be his bitter enemies—a menace to his home, his family.

And on the other plane, we were deeply back in adolescence, in underage beer drinking, football practice and swimming at the country club, back in the time of intense studies and intense friendships, of class rankings, all-nighters and idiotic, salacious entries in the yearbook.

The hearing became a sort of séance. The year 2018 set up a quivering, gauzy resonance with the year 1982. Middle age (with all its experience and achievement—Brett, from Georgetown Prep, at the height of the American judiciary now, and Christine, from Holton-Arms, a successful professional woman with a doctorate in psychology and, for all one knew, a rich private life) established communication with a prior world—with adolescent youth and its hopes, follies and terrors, and the mystery of an assault that did or did not happen.

The F. Scott Fitzgerald challenge came into play. Judge Kavanaugh—passionate, indignant, his voice breaking, eyes tearing—denied everything Ms. Ford had said, at least the parts involving himself. He, too, was entirely credible. …

Part of the sympathy accorded him now emerged from what we knew of his ordeal in recent days—the sudden onslaught of sexual allegations, three of them now, the second being quite incredible and the third being unprecedentedly scurrilous and filthy. Judge Kavanaugh gained sympathy from his evident suffering and that of his family. His wife sat behind him in the hearing room wearing an expression of unutterable disgust.

Ultimately, there developed an interesting dialogue between two phrases—“her truth” and “the truth.” New Jersey’s sea-green incorruptible, Sen. Cory Booker, made much of Ms. Ford’s having “told her truth.” He meant that if she told “her truth,” it was enough. Except it was not enough. The question was whether her truth was the truth—or whether his truth was the truth. It wasn’t possible that the two truths, his and hers, could square with one another.

The country will take its pick in November. In a way, American politics, even its idea of reality, has sifted down to a choice between Brett’s truth and Christine’s.

29 Sep 2018

Waxy Monkey Tree Frog

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27 Sep 2018

Iowahawk Wins Again

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27 Sep 2018

Wake Up Out There

26 Sep 2018

Warren G. Harding Has Become One of My Favorite Presidents

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Warren G Harding.

Harvard prof Jill Lepore’s new one-volume history of the United States, These Truths, has been showered with honors by the liberal establishment.

I’ve read reviews that make it clear that Lepore has simply added a heavy dose of Howard Zinn to the same Progressive “March of Progress,” applauding every increase in size and scope of federal authority, that we were reading back when I was in high school.

You all, I’m sure, are acquainted with the conventional professional historians’ ratings of US presidents in which Warren G. Harding invariably comes in at the bottom. We’ve been told, repeatedly, that Harding was a handsome complete airhead, who incompetently ran a corrupt administration (Teapot Dome Scandal) and who disgracefully had a mistress, but conveniently died and removed himself from office.

Harding’s presidency was before my time, so I had always accepted most of that as true, but Richard Epstein, at Ricochet, responding to Lepore’s book, points out some things about Harding I never knew.

The book covers many cultural and social issues—as well as constitutional and regulatory matters, on which she takes a strong and uncritical progressive stance that sees government intervention as an essential tool to correct the imbalances of the market.

In developing this idea, Lepore’s book covers multiple topics with stunning rapidity, elegant compression, and apparent erudition. One constant theme traces the interaction between constitutional law and technological development from the Founding period to the present, covering everything from the printing press to the Internet. But even that subject is too extensive to receive a full account, so on this occasion I will confine my attention to a small portion of that topic, covering the years between 1920 and 1945 dealing with the rise of broadcasting by radio and the government’s attempt to regulate the airwaves. This case study offers a contrast between the classical liberal view of limited government with strong property and contract rights that I have long defended, and Lepore’s clear endorsement of the progressive tradition that has in many ways displaced it.

Lepore’s narrative of this period begins with President Warren Harding, who, she writes, “in one of the worst inaugural addresses ever delivered,” argued, in his own words, “for lightened tax burdens, for sound commercial practices, for adequate credit facilities, for sympathetic concern for all agricultural problems, for the omission of unnecessary interference of Government with business, for an end to Government’s experiment in business, for more efficient business in Government, and for more efficient business in Government administration.” Harding’s sympathetic reference of farmers is a bit out of keeping with the rest of his remarks. Indeed, farmers had already been a protected class before 1920, and the situation only got worse when Franklin Roosevelt’s administration implemented the Agricultural Adjustment Acts of the 1930s, which cartelized farming. But for all her indignation, Lepore never explains what is wrong with Harding’s agenda. She merely rejects it out of hand, while mocking Harding’s conviction.

Given her doggedly progressive premises, Lepore may have predicted a calamitous meltdown in the American economy under Harding, but exactly the opposite occurred. Harding appointed an exceptionally strong cabinet that included as three of its principal luminaries Charles Evans Hughes as Secretary of State, Andrew Mellon as Secretary of Treasury, and Herbert Hoover as the ubiquitous Secretary of Commerce, with a portfolio far broader than that position manages today. And how did they perform? Lepore does not mention that Harding coped quickly and effectively with the serious recession of 1921 by refusing to follow Hoover’s advice for aggressive intervention. Instead, Harding initiated powerful recovery by slashing the federal budget in half and reducing taxes across the board. Both Roosevelt and Obama did far worse in advancing recovery with their more interventionist efforts.

To her credit, Lepore notes the successes of Harding’s program: the rise of industrial production by 70 percent, an increase in the gross national product by about 40 percent, and growth in per capita income by close to 30 percent between 1922 and 1928. [Emphasis added. –JDZ] But, she doesn’t seem to understand why that recovery was robust, especially in comparison with the long, drawn-out Roosevelt recession that lingered on for years when he adopted the opposite policy of extensive cartelization and high taxes through the 1930s.


Don’t miss the discussion of the Federal Radio Act of 1927. Who knew? Can you imagine what technological and cultural progress could have occurred over half a century of free market mass communications?

26 Sep 2018

Tweet of the Day


26 Sep 2018

Leon Redbone — “Shine On Harvest Moon”

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Wikipedia: “a popular early-1900s song credited to the married vaudeville team Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth. It was one of a series of Moon-related Tin Pan Alley songs of the era. The song was debuted by Bayes and Norworth in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 to great acclaim. It became a pop standard, and continues to be performed and recorded even in the 21st century. ”

26 Sep 2018

Old but Good

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25 Sep 2018

Scott Fitzgerald Reads Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale

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25 Sep 2018

Rørby Sword

, , , 1952 Thorvald Nielsen was dredging a ditch in a small bog at Rørby in western Zealand. He found an ornamented curved sword of bronze that had been stuck diagonally into the turf. The sword was from the beginning of the Bronze Age, around 1600 BC, and was the first of its kind to be found in Denmark. It was handed in as treasure trove to the National Museum, but the story does not end there. In 1957, when Thorvald Jensen was digging up potatoes around the same place, he uncovered yet another curved sword. The second curved sword was ornamented like the first, but it was also decorated with a picture of a ship. This is the oldest example of a ship image from Denmark.

Combat Archaeology:

A peculiar class of swords emerge in the earliest periods of the Danish Bronze Age, namely the curved sword. The specimens from Rørby Mose, western Zealand, are amongst some of the most impressive armament finds from the Early Bronze Age.

The first of these swords was found by chance in 1952. Five years later, again by chance, the second was found, only a few meters away from the location of the first. The two swords are nearly identical and both intensively decorated with geometric patterns which reveal a date of c. 1600-1500 BC .

The second of the swords found at Rørby, however, features a distinctive depiction of a boat on its blade and is the earliest known of its kind in the history of Denmark The depiction is strikingly similar to the boats contained in the many Bronze Age rock art panels of Scandinavia as well as the Hjortspring boat from around 350 BC. In a certain sense, the morphology of the Rørby swords, with their curved extremes, also bear some resemblances to these boats.

Although impressive, there is little to suggest that these curved swords had any combative function. They are massive and unwieldy and their morphology does simply not allow for any functional interpretation in combative terms. Being made of expensive bronze and so intensely decorated with fine geometric patterns, the swords can more appropriately be assigned to a symbolic role.

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