COLLECTIVE MADNESS


“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Our Rulers and Masters

President Theodore Roosevelt on Liberty


58 comments:

  1. Okay. I will do the dirty deed.

    July 16, 2008, 6:00 a.m.

    McCain’s Cult of Teddy Roosevelt
    The Sage of Sagamore Hill was not a conservative.

    By Michael Knox Beran

    Asked recently by the New York Times to name a conservative model, John McCain cited Theodore Roosevelt.

    Teddy, of course, had no shortage of virtues. Conservatism, alas, wasn’t one of them.

    It’s one thing for a conservative to admire T. R.’s style and gallantry, the charge up San Juan Hill, the rounding up of crooks in the Badlands. It’s something else for a conservative to identify Roosevelt as a fellow reformer, as Sen. McCain did in the Times interview. Far from allaying conservative fears, McCain can only add to them by trying to make a conservative of a man who, largely for reasons of expediency, embraced a host of dubious reforms, and who ended his public career by embracing the Progressive dream of a state strong enough to command the industry and commerce of the nation.

    True, as a young man T. R. resisted the Progressive agenda. In the New York State Assembly he opposed attempts to monkey with the free flow of goods and services, and he voted down a minimum-wage bill. But he was eager to advance himself, and he soon discovered which way the winds were blowing.

    As president he proposed the progressive taxation of incomes and estates, to the dismay of classical liberals who argued that laws should not discriminate against particular classes of people, even rich ones.

    The Hepburn Act of 1906, for which he worked lustily, strengthened the Interstate Commerce Commission’s grip on the railways — a step that led eventually to the dilapidation of the railroads and to Amtrak.

    As for the 1906 Food and Drug Act, which established the FDA, its principal beneficiaries (so Milton and Rose Friedman contend in Free to Choose) were the meat-packers, who were glad to have taxpayer-subsidized help in ensuring the quality of their cattle.

    Roosevelt’s dance with the command economy culminated in his “New Nationalism” manifesto. In the suitably visionary precincts of the John Brown Cemetery in Osawatomie, Kansas, on a hot day in August 1910, the ex-president mounted the tripod and lamented, in lugubrious and apocalyptic tones, the “absence of effective state” in America. He called for a paternalist form of government that would “control the mighty commercial forces” of the Republic.

    Two years later, having failed to wrest the Republican party from Taft, Roosevelt ran for president as the candidate of his own Progressive party. Though he out-polled Taft, he lost to Woodrow Wilson.

    * * *

    Teddy and his fellow Progressives were on a wild-goose chase. They failed to see what was really wrong with America’s system of political economy in their day, its lack of an effective anti-monopoly regime. Although the Sherman Act had been on the books since 1890, antitrust law was in its infancy. Roosevelt’s own approach to monopoly was emotional and neurotic. He acted as though he were on safari in Africa, trying to bag big game like the Northern Securities Company for purposes of psychological catharsis. There was nothing, in his predatory technique, of the professional coolness and method of Taft, who during a shorter spell of executive power brought nearly twice as many antitrust suits, and without nearly as much ranting and raving.

    Roosevelt made up for his want of inspirational principle by striking out in all sorts of irrelevant directions. His tax proposals were designed to bring the “criminal rich” and “malefactors of great wealth” into line. But wealth per se (which in a free society is merely an account of useful activity) was not the problem. The problem was wealth derived from monopoly.



    More vaguely Roosevelt argued that laissez-faire economics had been superseded by a new, more efficient gospel of administrative supremacy. Edmund Morris, who in Theodore Rex was manifestly hypnotized by his hero’s sound and fury, argued that “the outdated system of laissez-faire . . . was accelerating out of control.” So, at any rate, Roosevelt believed. Rather than use government to promote freer, more competitive markets, he used it to promote government itself. The state, not the market place, was his ideal. In the Roosevelt lexicon “bourgeois” was a pejorative.

    Yet if Roosevelt was not a capitalist, neither was he deeply or sincerely a Progressive. He was a man of the state. Robert La Follette perceived the falseness of his reformist strutting: “Theodore Roosevelt is the ablest living interpreter of what I would call the superficial public sentiment of a given time, and he is spontaneous in his reactions to it.” Teddy’s Progressive agenda was driven not by principle but by political opportunism and a heightened sensitivity to the mood of the moment. The deviousness with which he negotiated the shoals of public opinion might have passed for wisdom, had it not been so patently pressed into the service of self-glorification.

    In advertising his hero-worship of Teddy, Sen. McCain exhibits a little too blatantly an aspect of his own psyche that would best be kept under wraps. He, too, has been accused of political narcissism. If he wants to reassure conservatives, he needs to persuade them that, unlike Roosevelt’s, his own policies will be grounded in something more solid than expediency and a canny reading of the whimsies of the moment.

    * * *

    There is another problem with McCain’s attempt to induct Roosevelt into the conservative pantheon. T.R.’s contempt for what he called the “gold-ridden, capitalist-bestridden, usurer-mastered” aspects of American life, his admiration for the élan of the warrior, did not reflect a conservative temperament, as conservatism is understood in America. True, the warrior virtues are, in the last resort, what keep us free. But it is possible to take one’s admiration of the iron-jointed, supple-sinewed hero (he who catches the wild goat by the hair and hurls his lances in the sun) too far, especially in a country like ours, a commercial and as a rule pacific nation.

    In disparaging the “timid and short-sighted selfishness” of the “bourgeois type,” in cultivating the mystique of the warrior, an adoration of strength and muscle-tone, Roosevelt revealed his psyche to be tropically rank with that morbid second-growth of romanticism which Wagner and Bismarck, Treitschke and Nietzsche, did much to nourish in the latter decades of the 19th century.

    In his 1915 book Händler und Helden (Merchants and Heroes), the German prophet-economist Werner Sombart offered a précis of the degenerate philosophy of late romanticism. Sombart glorified the heroic aspirations of the Germans, which, he maintained, were of a higher order than the piggishly commercial credos of the English (and by extension the Americans).

    The union of the romantic yearning for the heroic-archaic and the socialist craving for an anti-capitalist utopia (to be administered by a vanguard of élite technocrats) which Sombart’s thought embodied led to those cults of blood and bureaucracy which spelled disaster, not only for Germany, but also for Russia and China, and for the many smaller countries which followed their examples.

    The inbred, déclassé romanticism of Sombart was alive in the swampier places of the sage of Sagamore Hill’s soul. Teddy read the German romantics with enthusiasm and interpreted them to an American public; he shared their affection for the police power; he could rattle the saber with the best of them. There was something distinctly Bismarckian in his reactionary progressivism, which bears affinity to the pathology of “liberal fascism” identified by Jonah Goldberg.

    * * *

    All in all, John McCain would do best to talk more about Ronald Reagan, and less about Theodore Roosevelt. And while he is at it, he might come up with a new “favorite book,” one that isn’t, like For Whom the Bell Tolls, a maudlin lament for a socialist bridge-bomber.

    — Michael Knox Beran is a contributing editor of City Journal. His most recent book is Forge of Empires 1861-1871: Three Revolutionary Statesmen and the World They Made.

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  2. Sorry your hubby is on the road but happy to see you posting substance!

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  3. In disparaging the “timid and short-sighted selfishness” of the “bourgeois type,” in cultivating the mystique of the warrior, an adoration of strength and muscle-tone, Roosevelt revealed his psyche to be tropically rank with that morbid second-growth of romanticism which Wagner and Bismarck, Treitschke and Nietzsche, did much to nourish in the latter decades of the 19th century.




    Tropically rank.

    That's some impressive phrase turning.

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  4. There seems to be two kinds of conservatives - Social Conservatives and Fiscal Conservatives. Two VERY different animals!

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  5. Why thank you, ash. But he's gone a lot and I long ago resigned myself to it. (Trish's husband: Coulda fooled me.) He'd be itchy and bored otherwise.

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  6. Concise conservatives?

    Me, too!

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  7. Michael Knox Beran is a contributing editor of City Journal. His most recent book is Forge of Empires 1861-1871: Three Revolutionary Statesmen and the World They Made.

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  8. Not to disparage the good man but I don't expect to see that on the NY Times Best Seller List.

    For too long, that fellow has been buried in the bowels of academia.

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  9. Tropically rank

    And what does that mean?

    Class?

    Anyone?

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  10. LINEAR--no word from Jor-ge today. Maybe got deported. Will try tomorrow. Over.
    -----

    morbid second-growth of romanticism which Wagner and Bismarck, Treitschke and Nietzsche... isn't bad either, Trish.

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  11. I'm not sure what that has to do with the argument he's making. Which has been made over and over again by both wary Republican supporters and conservative and libertarian detractors of McCain.

    This is wholly or in part what was giving sinless, rufus, and countless others so much heartburn. And I understand that.

    As a Friedman acolyte, you should, too.

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  12. Rank, stinking, steaming, moist, luxurious, tropical mass of crap.

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  13. If only Ash would post some substance. Or get on the road:)

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  14. Ash: There seems to be two kinds of conservatives - Social Conservatives and Fiscal Conservatives. Two VERY different animals!

    You forgot Neo-Conservatives, who think social conservatives are a bunch of NASCAR-watching rubes and Fiscal Conservatives need to drink the koolaid on funding Democracy in the Middle-east.

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  15. I thought a neo-con was the newly convicted, like OJ soon may be.

    Doug will blow a gasket if he gets off again.

    They have the entire incident on tape, oddly enough.

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  16. ACORN is working Ohio with pd. 'volunteers' I heard.

    This really disturbs me. With Ohio's new voting rules, it may turn the tide.

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  17. rank: growing with excessive luxuriance; vigorous and tall of growth: tall rank weeds.

    "tropical" just reinforces

    vividly, I might add

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  18. Bobal: Doug will blow a gasket if he gets off again.

    OJ's lawyers need to get rid of one of the all-white primary jurors and get one of the black alternates on there. Then OJ is sure to get off on a mistrial, because no black person would vote to convict OJ, video or no, bloody glove or no. If the juror is in denial then the judge must call a mistrial.

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  19. Virginia might go blue. As a life-long, albeit off-and-on, Virginian, that's like some sign of the apocalypse.

    My daughter relays that they are out in force in Richmond, snagging new Dem voters under the guise of, "Would you like to sign this petition protesting the Republican-induced Great Depression II?"

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  20. You f*ckers have been busier than beavers today....makin' it hard for a workin' man to stay caught up!

    dr - Wish you all would listen to Phil Gramm, stop your whinin'.
    Same Phil Gramm that gave US
    the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
    which j willie submited was the key cause of the current challenge


    Careful there, DR. You must pay a little closer attention, as I specifically submitted that the repeal of Glass-Steagall was the cause of the AIG problem (insurance company guarantees of mortgage-backed securities - not possible without Glass-Steagall repeal).

    Do not attempt to twist my words into something I did not say as you appear to do when you state "...the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
    which j willie submited was the key cause of the current challenge".

    I assume by "current challenge" you mean the entire set of financial events that have occurred this week, not specifically the AIG "bailout"

    From a dealmaking perspective this is really not a bad deal - the investor (US govt) get Libor plus 8.5% (11% plus) cash-on-cash return plus 80% of the upside for creating "breathing room"). If we are gonna bet the farm on somebody's financial savvy, Hank Paulson is probably the right guy in the right place...

    bobal - Black privilege is having a drunken moslem multimarried man who leaves babies all over Kenya and beyond as your father knocking up your slutty 17 year old unmarried mother, running for President, getting 98% of the black vote, and calling the country racist.

    Amen, brother. Say it again!

    Gag Reflex - Ash, do you have any political thoughts of your own?

    As they teach you to say in "charm school" - that is an EXCELLENT QUESTION!

    bobal - Makin' Babies Like Jemima Makes Biscuits

    The Right Reverend James Manning IS the ANTIDOTE to barack hussein obama!!!


    Ok, that's enough for this comment...but i'm still catching up.

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  21. via Stratfor, some serious talk:

    The United States would respond militarily to any future Russian operations in Georgia if Georgia becomes a NATO member, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, Sky News reported Sept. 18

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  22. Rat notes that habu did call this derivatives mess long ago.

    And I hear this - "derivatives mess" - repeated over and over by the FDIC types - who also happen to be my mother and various FOTF.

    The trick is saying "derivatives" with as much acid scorn as one can muster.

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  23. All part of black privilege T. Just vote guilty or innocent based on color alone. Particularily in high profile cases. The concept of beyond a reasonable doubt doesn't even have to come into it.

    To be fair about it, it wasn't so long ago the opposite held true in the south.

    OJ almost got a break the other day when one of the guys that 'got robbed' almost heart attacked out on the witness stand.
    Weak heart, has had four attacks in the last few months.

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  24. I always notice in the old films and pictures the folks are more formally dressed than nowadays. Suits, bow ties, that sort of thing. The old pictures from around here have that same quality. Everyone seemed to take better care to try to dress right in public, rich or poor.

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  25. Bobal it all started with JFK when he went around without a hat, and all the menfolk had to follow suit. Pretty soon you had those four men with shaggy-dog haircuts show up on Ed Sullivan, then the womenfolk started wearing boots which covered more thigh than their minidress did. It was downhill from there.

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  26. Thanks, Bob.

    I've been tryin' to tear my self away from the buns on the earlier post.

    Just magnificent!

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  27. FotF Faith of the Fallen
    FOTF Falling on the Floor
    FOTF Focus On The Family
    FOTF Four on the Floor
    FOTF Friend of the Family (band)
    FOTF Fun On The Fox (boating)

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  28. Anagrams for "Elephant Bar"

    Rehab Planet

    Blather Pane

    A Bra Help Net

    (3 of 1654)

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  29. Linear Thinker: I've been tryin' to tear my self away from the buns on the earlier post.

    Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed
    (Kinky Friedman)


    You uppity women I don't understand
    Why you gotta go and try to act like a man,
    But before you make your weekly visit to the shrink
    You'd better occupy the kitchen, liberate the sink.

    Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed
    That's what I to my baby said,
    Women's liberation is a-going to your head,
    Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed.

    Early every morning you're out on the street
    Passing out pamphlets to everyone you meet.
    You gave up your Maiden Form for Lent
    And now the front of your dress has an air scoop vent.

    Every single brakeman that's ever come along
    Had a little woman always tellin' him that he's wrong.
    Eve said to Adam, "Here's an apple you horse"
    And Delilah defoliated Samson's moss.

    Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed
    That's what I to my baby said,
    Women's liberation is a-going to your head,
    Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed.

    Mean-hearted harpies are breaking all the laws
    Tearing up their girdles and a-burning up their bras,
    Now the air is dirty and the sex is clean
    And your coffee makes my hair turn green.

    So damn emancipated in your mind and your body,
    Gonna have to cancel all your lessons in karate.
    If you can't love a male chauvinist
    You'd better cross me off your shopping list.

    Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed
    That's what I to my baby said,
    Women's liberation is a-going to your head,
    Get your biscuits in the oven and your buns in the bed.

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  30. Actual thought: Someone posted a recipe for buns??



    Friends of the family.

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  31. Anagrams for teresita


    Teaser It
    Eaters It
    Saree Tit
    Tear Site
    Eats Rite
    Teat Rise

    6/219

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  32. Friends of the Family.

    As I suspected...

    ...but ya never know around here.

    :-)

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  33. Bake them biskits, mama,
    Bake 'em nice and brown,
    And when ya get them biskits baked,
    I'm Alabamy bound.

    I gotta pig at home in a pen,
    And corn ta feed him on,
    And all I need is a purty li'l gal,
    To feed him when I'm gone.

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  34. Farmers Overwhelm The Femmes

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  35. Of little Miss Frisky
    I had lived in cold dread
    Till Erse sippin' whiskey
    Threw us tangled in bed.

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  36. Barkeep's lament.

    Nice congenial crowd. Low buzz of happy conversation.

    In comes a drunken lecher, drives out the ladies, bores everbody else.

    Falls asleep at the end of the bar.

    zzzzzzzz

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  37. A lecher named Fletcher
    Was in need of a stretcher
    From way too much beer and wine

    When the ambulance came
    They called out his name
    But found him a mere minus sign.

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  38. Joshua fought the battle at the walls of Jericho.
    He had to get inside those walls, but how he did not know.
    One blast from all his trumpets and ol' Joshua had no fears.
    The walls had been constructed by some Army Engineer.

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  39. I bought a one fifty

    Thinkin' it nifty

    And really very shifty

    To be once in my life totally unthrifty.

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  40. I cast my vote for Lady Palin
    With a ballot marked for mail-in
    And went to bed that night with hope
    My country would nix that Chicago dope.

    Night, Linear.

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  41. I told him to get prices on 4WD, automatic, and standard cab, and super cab, both. Talk tomorrow.

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  42. Good, Bob.

    My boy's in need of just such a rig.

    Nite.

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  43. I had me a wench from East Broint,
    Who bade me her skin to anoint.
    The girl had arthritis,
    And so I decided,
    She wouldn't mind one more stiff joint.

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  44. Roosevelt and McCain, two peas in a pod.

    That not being a compliment.

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  45. Barry O said to Rev Wright,
    “Jerry, get out of sight!
    When they hear what you’ve said,
    I’ll be p’litically dead,
    And our country will stay to the right!

    -------

    Sweet Cindy said to dear John,
    “Sometimes you run on and on.
    Your campaign is dyin’
    And no one is buyin’
    And me and my money are gone.”

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  46. Nice thread guys and of course our lovely lovely ladies.

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  47. Lay in a supply of Pepcid AC, sinless. ; )

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