Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Bill of Commandments

John McKay has translated the Bill of Rights into King James English:

  1. Thou shalt not make laws respecting an establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
  2. Thou shalt not not make laws abridging the freedom of speech nor the freedom of the press.
  3. Thou shalt respect the right of the people peaceably to assemble and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
  4. Thou shalt not infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms.
  5. Thou shalt not quarter troops during peacetime in any house without the consent of the owner.
  6. Thou shalt not perform unreasonable searches. Neither shall thou seize without warrant.
  7. Thou shalt not hold a person to answer for any capital, or otherwise infamous crime, without first indicting by a Grand Jury. Neither shall thou twice put a person put in jeopardy of life or limb for the same offense. Neither shall thou compel self incrimination.
  8. Thou shalt give speedy and public trial and preserve the right to trial by a jury of peers.
  9. Thou shalt not impose excessive bail or fines. Neither shall thou inflict cruel and unusual punishments.
  10. Thou shalt preserve for the States and the people those rights not delegated to the United States by the Constitution.
Awesome. Go ye and sin no more.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Lyrics: The John Birch Society

At some point last week, the line "To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks" started going through my head....

Chad Mitchell Trio : The John Birch Society
by Michael Brown

Oh, we're meetin' at the courthouse at eight o'clock tonight
You just walk in the door and take the first turn to the right
Be careful when you get there, we hate to be bereft
But we're taking down the names of everybody turning left

Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society, help us fill the ranks
To get this movement started we need lots of tools and cranks

Now there's no one that we're certain the Kremlin doesn't touch
We think that Westbrook Pegler doth protest a bit too much
We only hail the hero from whom we got our name
We're not sure what he did but he's our hero just the same

Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Socialism is the ism dismalest of all
Join the John Birch Society, there's so much to do
Have you heard they're serving vodka at the WCTU?

Well you've heard about the agents that we've already named
Well MPA has agents that are flauntedly unashamed
We're after Rosie Clooney, we've gotten Pinkie Lee
And the day we get Red Skelton won't that be a victory

Oh we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Norman Vincent Peale may think he's kidding us along
But the John Birch Society knows he spilled the beans
He keeps on preaching brotherhood, but we know what he means

We'll teach you how to spot 'em in the cities or the sticks
For even Jasper Junction is just full of Bolsheviks
The CIA's subversive and so's the FCC
There's no one left but thee and we, and we're not sure of thee

Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Here to save our country from a communistic plot
Join the John Birch Society holding off the Reds
We'll use our hand and hearts and if we must we'll use our heads

Do you want Justice Warren for your Commissar?
Do you want Mrs. Krushchev in there with the DAR?
You cannot trust your neighbor or even next of kin
If mommie is a commie then you gotta turn her in

Oh, we're the John Birch Society, the John Birch Society
Fighting for the right to fight the right fight for the Right
Join the John Birch Society as we're marching on
And we'll all be glad to see you when we're meeting in the John
In the John,
in the John Birch So- ci- i- teee.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: Chronology and consistency

In response to an interesting article about political philosophy and civility post-9/11, I raised the following concern:

I have a—typical of an historian, perhaps—chronological problem with the set-up. It’s interesting, to be sure, to measure someone’s actions against their stated principles, but it’s much more convincing if the actions in question come after they’ve stated those principles.
Perhaps I should have added that there's virtue in changing one's mind; not all inconsistencies are hypocrisies. But I want to see if there's any reply (and what sort) before I get too involved in a discussion over there.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: underwear economics

In response to the news that underwear sales are down, I wrote
Actually, with population growth slowing, the steady sales of underwear were actually based on inflated expectations and overconsumption; the dip is a correction to a more appropriate level given the backlog of product in people's drawers. It's an underwear bubble, and it's been popped.

And I did my best to make that sound normal, not obscene, and I'm pretty sure I failed.

To be fair, I didn't try all that hard....

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: Tea Party Goals

In response to Steve Benen's comment about the Tea Party movement,
Meanwhile, I suspect one of the problems with the Tea Parties is that it's not altogether clear what they're rallying for. They're conservatives who don't like the Democratic domestic policy agenda; this much is clear. But usually there's some kind of point to organized political events, and the Tea Parties are still a little vague.

I take it they don't like the economic stimulus package, but that's already passed. They don't like budget deficits, unless they're run by Republican presidents. They don't want their taxes to go up, but Obama has already passed a significant middle-class tax cut, which by most measures, is the largest tax cut ever signed by a U.S. president.

So, angry, right-wing activists are going to get together to demand ... what exactly? A 36% top rate instead of a 39.6% top rate? A $3.1 trillion federal budget instead of a $3.5 trillion budget? It's hardly the stuff of a credible and coherent political movement.

I responded
angry, right-wing activists are going to get together to demand ...

The abolition of the IRS, the FDA, HHS and the Dept. of Education, the elimination of restrictions on gun and ammunition ownership, a return to the gold standard, "whites only" immigration policies and probably a return to gunboat diplomacy and 54-40.

This isn't about rolling back a few recent changes: it's about taking the opportunity of a loss to organize, finally, a radical right wing movement that doesn't (apparently) have its origins in the Klan.

Crosspost and Comment: Exceptionalism and Permanancy

President Obama, 4 April 2009, Strasbourg [via]:
"I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world. If you think about the site of this summit and what it means, I don't think America should be embarrassed to see evidence of the sacrifices of our troops, the enormous amount of resources that were put into Europe postwar, and our leadership in crafting an Alliance that ultimately led to the unification of Europe. We should take great pride in that.

"And if you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.

"Now, the fact that I am very proud of my country and I think that we've got a whole lot to offer the world does not lessen my interest in recognizing the value and wonderful qualities of other countries, or recognizing that we're not always going to be right, or that other people may have good ideas, or that in order for us to work collectively, all parties have to compromise and that includes us.

"And so I see no contradiction between believing that America has a continued extraordinary role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity and recognizing that that leadership is incumbent, depends on, our ability to create partnerships because we create partnerships because we can't solve these problems alone."

Passover is my nostalgic holiday. That and Thanksgiving, I guess: these are the holidays where the family comes together, or the community, or friends (or, since you can have multiple seders over Passover, all of the above!), where the food is distinctive and deeply rooted. Also, the preparation is fairly intense, so there's a period of anticipation and planning that hightens the experience.

So if you're wondering what I've been doing this last week, it's the usual, plus a bunch of extra shopping and planning. And next week will be a cavalcade of ritual: recipe following, haggadah-reading, actual seders, informal get-togethers, and more recipe following (I'm a very improvisational cook, usually, but not with Passover recipes; if you don't get them right, the results can be really unpleasant).

What are you up to these days?

That was my "Open Thread" post at Progressive Historians. I also left the following comment:
Twice in the last two weeks, at two different blogs, I've seen a post on which I'd left a comment deleted. In one case the author decided that it was a draft, not ready for prime time; in the other, the post remained crossposted elsewhere, where it got much friendlier comments.

One of the reasons I started my comments elsewhere tag was the sometimes fragile nature of the internet, but I need, apparently, to move more quickly on these things.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Comment Elsewhere: Who would have guessed?

For whatever reason, my comments on Kevin Drum's post about the Iowa ruling, a unanimous victory for marriage equality, keep getting eaten as spam. Here's what I said, roughly (lost it in the spam filter)
Who would have guessed?


High average levels of education, a long tradition of diversity and tolerance, an authentically progressive tradition of politics, and a quiet cosmopolitanism that puts much of both coasts to shame. Possibly the most authentically liberal place I've ever lived.