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by Christopher Chantrill
August 11, 2015 at 12:00 am
I GUESS THAT I’m too old to understand the modern world. I would have thought that for the White House to set the lefty dogs on Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for opposing the president’s Iran deal would be a bad idea. I would have thought that Sen. Schumer was powerful enough that nobody, not the president nor the lefty AstroTurfers, gets to mess with him
But what do I know? The Hill reports that “Credo [Action], MoveOn.org and Democracy for America are rallying supporters to flood congressional mailboxes and town halls over the course of the next month to demand lawmakers support the agreement.” And there’s more:
Activists and former top officials within the Obama administration are openly contemplating whether Schumer’s stance disqualifies him from serving as the next Senate Democratic leader — which he is primed to do — and seeking to temporarily cut off money to Democrats in the upper chamber.
I guess I’m old fashioned, but I thought that the august United States Senators themselves — bedight with freshly laundered white togas — were the guys that got to elect their leaders. I had no idea, no idea, that activist groups, contributors, bundlers, and White House staffers got in on the action too.
Maybe I just don’t get how non-treaty treaties work in the white hot crucible of the modern age. I thought, after reading about the debacle of President Woodrow Wilson and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge and the Treaty of Versailles nearly a century ago, that modern presidents understood that you don’t go off negotiating treaties without keeping the United States Senate in the loop. I thought that modern presidents understood that the amour-propre of top Senators requires that they be individually stroked by the president when big international negotiations are afoot. I thought that when the president starts dissing a prominent United States Senator then it is not the senator that has a problem, but the president.
But maybe the chaps in the White House know better than me. Hey, maybe they have the goods on Senator Schumer, and can take him out to the woodshed for a little Murdstone-style firmness.
But more likely the White House crew has totally misjudged the Iran deal and the reaction of the American people and is reduced to putting a little stick about in the vain hope that intimidation can get the non-treaty treaty over the line. The reality remains that there was wisdom in the Founders’ idea that a treaty negotiated by the president needed a two-thirds vote in the Senate, because consensus.
Maybe there was wisdom also in Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s dictum that when you pass a landmark piece of legislation like Obamacare you need a 70-30 vote in the Senate, because consensus.
Maybe there is wisdom in the idea that the Environmental Protection Agency should not have the power to regulate coal power plants out of existence, because that is Congress’s job.
Maybe if you don’t observe the niceties you end up with the president’s whole agenda burning up like straw on January 20, 2017.
Starting with the Clinton impeachment and MoveOn.org and then with the Netroots movement in the 2000s, Democrats have come to believe that take-no-prisoners activism really helps them set the agenda and win political fights. Hey, it worked with George W. Bush!
Then we elected a president marinated in left-wing culture by his mother and Frank Marshall Davis and a sojourn in Chicago with a gaggle of red-diaper babies like Axelrod, Jarrett & Co., and the only thing those people know is activism and intimidation.
But I think it will all turn out to be a strategic mistake.
Activism and intimidation and in-your-face-ism is one thing when you are dissidents and activists fighting the system. Then you can plausibly argue that you are Davids fighting Goliath, even if you get tons of money from lefty billionaires.
But when you are the government then your activists and intimidators become regime street thugs. That goes for Credo Action, MoveOn.org, and all the 60-odd progressive organizations directly funded by George Soros. These are no longer the halcyon days of the mid-2000s when progressives were battling against the evil forces of George W. Bush. These days the progressives are the government. So when they use intimidation tactics — on a United States Senator no less — they are acting like the street thugs of a South American thug dictator.
People don’t like government bullies. They think: If the Obama administration can bully Tea Party groups, or go after a powerful United States Senator like this, who will they bully and intimidate next? What happens when those thugs turn on me?
That’s what these progressives don’t understand. And that ignorance is what is going to cost them the White House in 2017, and very likely more.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of agesthey seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society
We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.
E. G. West, Education and the State
Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures
The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since
1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and
philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West
Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its
characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then,
once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities
But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie
that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison
I mean three systems in one: a predominantly market economy; a polity respectful of the rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and a system of cultural institutions moved by ideals of liberty and justice for all.
In short, three dynamic and converging systems functioning as one: a democratic polity, an economy based on markets and incentives, and a moral-cultural system which is plural and, in the largest sense, liberal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism
The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness...
But to make a man act [he must have]
the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove
or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
When we received Christ, Phil added, all of a sudden we now had a rule book to go by, and when we had problems the preacher was right there to give us the answers.
James M. Ault, Jr., Spirit and Flesh
The recognition and integration of extralegal property rights [in the Homestead Act] was a key element in the United States becoming the most important market economy and producer of capital in the world.
Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital