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September 27, 2021

The Morning Report - 9/27/21


Good morning, kids. Start of a new week and I've been thinking about a painting done by World War 2 artist/illustrator Tom Lea. Though best known for his work "The Two Thousand-Yard Stare," it's an equally haunting work he created during the battle for Pelelieu, which coincidentally was in its opening phase 77 years ago, that I think is a metaphor for what we're experiencing. The caption in Life Magazine that accompanied the "The Last Step" read in part:

"Mangled shreds of what was once an arm hung straight down as he bent over in his stumbling, shock-crazy walk. Half his face was bashed pulp. The other half bore a horrifying expression of abject patience. . . His eyes searched for a fight. Then something exploded. He scrambled up from the ground as if embarrassed at falling. He looked at his left arm. Stumbled back to the beach. He never saw a Jap. Never fired a shot."

Look at everything that has figuratively, and in some instances literally, exploded in our faces over these last few years. Stolen elections, states of emergency as pretext to curtail freedoms, open borders, decriminalization of crime, persecution for political views other than leftist by government and non-governmental actors, the dismantling of the pax Americana to pave the way for a Sino/Islamic new dark age and on and on. Yet in the midst of all this, we (the royal "we") seem to be going through the motions of "resisting" and "fighting back." I still get e-mails from the usual panoply of politicians and other groups alarmed and horrified by what the Democrats and Leftists are doing before hitting me up for money.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere, it's the same kind of accurate analysis of the situation yet capped off by the infuriating exhortations to "vote even more harderer you guys!" or else how federalism and the Constitution are going to save the day. Yeah, just like they did at the 6 state legislatures and the Supreme Court a year ago and in Congress with Mike Pence last January 6th.

Two hundred and thirty-four years after Ben Franklin issued his warning on the occasion of its beginning, we couldn't keep it.

The Republic is dead. To pretend otherwise after the government usurpations of authority during the [Chinese] COVID "emergency" is delusional and self-destructive. The end was visible shortly after September 11th, 2001, with the panicked passage of an unconstitutional Patriot Act during the erstwhile war on terror, which has since been so terribly lost.

True, much of the public remains unaware."I didn't even know it was sick," they might say, preoccupied as they always are with earning a living and cleaning the gutters. But this is usually the case, until it isn't.

A dark age of technologically enhanced authoritarian rule is descending -- an age that I believe will not soon end. This brief time of passage must be taken as a last opportunity to recover our lost liberty. But what can the minority do? Certainly, any attempt at forcing the issue through violent revolution would only deepen the tragedy and coalesce support of the majority around the status quo. What then, can be done. . . ?

. . . We cannot stand still while other world powers are moving around us, and capitulation means disaster. Such a retreat would only condemn our children, those who survive, to the job we have failed to do. Whether from a virus or a nuclear holocaust, starvation or a bullet to the head, this horror is not inevitable and historically not so very different from the burdens accepted by past generations. . .

. . . As fate would have it, the time for a rediscovery of man and the restatement of a philosophy of free men is now. The oligarchy of the power-hungry, the greedy, and the lazy who control our present government will not agree to go away. And let it be understood: a violent revolution in these times would be deadly for all concerned. It is clear from recent elections that most of the citizenry is unaware of their own peril (never mind the corruption of the election process itself). Until it is obvious to the majority, and an alternative is in the offing, nothing can be done to change the status quo. . .

. . . a virtual "Constitutional Convention" can be called, nonetheless, and a viable alternative can be fashioned. A viable system of term limits would be a good start. Professional politicians are a curse. And an enlargement of Congress to better represent the population would help. A limitation on the bureaucracy would be another boon, with an enforced turnover to the private sector. The cost of "knowing who to call" is simply too great.

The great project of our age, then, is to build upon our ruins before they are lost beneath the sands.

Don't get me wrong. This is a well-written essay that, once again, lays out the situation and then suggests a "virtual 'Constitutional Convention.'" It's all well and good except what if the other side - the one holding all the cards as well as the courts, the military, law enforcement, the bureaucracy and the media - won't let us? What makes the author think that the GOP is going to fall in in lock step to do this in the first place? The title of this essay is The Republic is Dead. Well, if the republic is dead, calling for a Constitutional Convention, virtual or otherwise, is like that marine on Peleliu, heading off to the line while not realizing the gravediggers have already put a dog tag in his teeth and zipped up the body bag.

It's like amputees who swear they can still feel and move their limbs, even when staring straight at the stump. The estimable Roger Kimball has a long and worthwhile essay that cuts much closer to the chase.

Thinking about our situation puts me in mind of Walter Bagehot's cheery but clear-eyed masterpiece Physics and Politics (1872), a copiously annotated edition of which I edited and published some years ago. Bagehot traces the evolution of civilization from its rude and violent beginnings to his age, what he calls "the age of discussion," when making a point typically counted for more in political life than the point of one's sword.

The many centrifugal forces contending in our society today prompts me to reprise some thoughts about Bagehot's recommendations for the preservation and extension of social comity.

By "discussion," it should go without saying, Bagehot did not mean idle chitchat but robust, untrammeled inquiry about what Aristotle called "the good life for man." What sort of regime is most likely to nurture the human attributes we value? How should we lead our lives? Where do our fundamental allegiances lie?

Serious talk -- and serious thought -- about such matters is integral to the metabolism of a free society. It provides the space where choice can blossom. Which is why strategies to quash discussion are inimical to freedom.

Given the astonishing recrudescence of multifarious efforts to disrupt the free flow of discussion -- from the astringencies of political correctness to the minatory dicta of woke ideologues -- it is worth stepping back to ponder the career of this subtle but enlivening pillar of liberty. . .

. . . As we look around at the many assaults on free discussion today, the prospects for the continuation of our regime of liberty seems up for grabs in a more fundamental way than at any time since World War II. It was only a few years ago that the United Nations pondered an international law against blasphemy -- against blasphemy! -- to defend Islam against its detractors. A bit later, representatives of the United States met in London with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to discuss whether speaking about religion can violate international law. Yes, that's right. Around the same time, Egypt convicted eight Americans in absentia for blasphemy; if apprehended, they could face the death penalty. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the Taliban has just announced that it is reintroducing barbaric punishments like stoning and amputation for offices against the faith.

I think Bagehot was right: free discussion is an integral ingredient, a veritable pillar of liberty. But that freedom is under serious threat today by religious fanatics, overweening government bureaucrats, and a complacent populace. David Hume once observed: "It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once." It seems to be that we have alarm bells going off all around us. The oddity is that so few people seem to hear them. No wonder secession is once again in the air.

Look at some of the links. Is anything going to come from the John Durham revelations? From what is looking to be a tainted vote audit in Arizona and elsewhere that proves the elections were stolen and now evidently the audits as well? From the revelations that our border is being intentionally erased and millions of poor aliens and violent jihadists are being imported? From the persecution of those who refuse to be vaccinated while our tormenters go about maskless and unvaccinated? Etc. etc. etc.?

With our world ablaze, the pyromaniacs being primarily from the American left who also supplied our enemies with copious amounts of matches and kerosene, people from across all walks of life and backgrounds, some even from the left itself know that what's going on is wrong. Very wrong. It is here where change comes from. From the bottom up. That is how we are going to have to force the issue.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in some links may or may not reflect my own. I include them because of their relevance to the discussion of a particular issue.

ALSO: The Morning Report is cross-posted at CutJibNewsletter.com if you want to continue the conversation all day.

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