Cory Leonard

Archive for September, 2010|Monthly archive page

Founding Fathers v. the Tea Party and other Op-Eds

In politics on September 29, 2010 at 12:39 am

The biographer of Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow, notes that its easy to quote the Founders:

Many Tea Party candidates and activists have tried to seize the moral high ground by explicitly identifying with the founders. Sharron Angle, who is mounting a spirited run against Harry Reid for a Senate seat from Nevada with Tea Party support, bristled at Mr. Reid’s contention that she is overly conservative. “I’m sure that they probably said that about Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and Benjamin Franklin,” she protested. “And, truly, when you look at the Constitution and our founding fathers and their writings … you might draw those conclusions: That they were conservative. They were fiscally conservative and socially conservative.

…but harder to determine what they really agree on:

Of course, had it really been the case that those who wrote the charter could best fathom its true meaning, one would have expected considerable agreement about constitutional matters among those former delegates in Philadelphia who participated in the first federal government. But Hamilton and Madison, the principal co-authors of “The Federalist,” sparred savagely over the Constitution’s provisions for years. Much in the manner of Republicans and Democrats today, Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians battled over exorbitant government debt, customs duties and excise taxes, and the federal aid to business recommended by Hamilton.

No single group should ever presume to claim special ownership of the founding fathers or the Constitution they wrought with such skill and ingenuity. Those lofty figures, along with the seminal document they brought forth, form a sacred part of our common heritage as Americans. They should be used for the richness and diversity of their arguments, not tampered with for partisan purposes. The Dutch historian Pieter Geyl once famously asserted that history was an argument without an end. Our contentious founders, who could agree on little else, would certainly have agreed on that.

via Op-Ed Contributor – The Founding Fathers Versus the Tea Party – NYTimes.com.

Another view reminds us that the insurgents are legit (in case you forgot):

The Tea Party is a grass-roots movement — wild, woolly and chaotic — which sometimes makes it hard to figure out exactly what it stands for. But to the extent that the movement boasts a single animating idea, it’s the conviction that the Republicans as much as the Democrats have been an accessory to the growth of spending and deficits, and that the Republican establishment needs to be punished for straying from fiscal rectitude.

The Tea Partiers have a point. Officially, the Republican Party stands for low taxes and limited government. But save during the gridlocked 1990s, Republican majorities and Republican presidents have tended to pass tax cuts while putting off spending cuts till a tomorrow that never comes.

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Seduction of the Tea Partiers – NYTimes.com.

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Personal Political Heroes | Letters of Daniel P. Moynihan Collected – NYTimes.com

In career, politics on September 23, 2010 at 5:12 am

I admire Moynihan’s attention to detail, his academic demeanor and training, and the way he spoke prophetically on issues of diplomacy, social policy, and national security, namely explaining the dynamics behind the UN, shouting out the crisis of the black family in America, and pondering the implications of secrecy.

Nothing escaped his attention. He complained to Brooks Brothers about the holes in his socks, urged Mr. Nixon to reverse a Johnson administration austerity measure and use floodlights to illuminate the White House exterior. He described the Peace Corps as: “a rip-off by the upper middle classes. Fortunes spent to send Amherst boys for an interesting learning experience in Venezuela,” paid for by “men equally young pumping gas on the New Jersey Turnpike.”

In 1965, W. Willard Wirtz, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s labor secretary, described Mr. Moynihan’s report on threats to the black nuclear family as “nine pages of dynamite about the Negro situation.” Mr. Moynihan wrote to Mr. Johnson, perhaps invoking their shared upbringing: “You were born poor. You were brought up poor. Yet you came of age full of ambition, energy and ability. Because your mother and father gave it to you. The richest inheritance any child can have is a stable, loving, disciplined family life.”

He would later describe Mr. Johnson as “the first American president to be toppled by a mob. No matter that it was a mob of college professors, millionaires, flower children and Radcliffe girls.”

via Letters of Daniel P. Moynihan Collected – NYTimes.com.

via Personal Political Heroes | Letters of Daniel P. Moynihan Collected – NYTimes.com.

Bloomberg Gets it Right, But in the Center

In politics on September 22, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I understand that moderates are losing out nationally to the Tea Party.  I also understand that anger at government spending and ineffectiveness on immigration, health care, Iraq, and Afghanistan is real.  But who else understands this — and can channel it into effective policy and productive outcomes?

In his first extensive interview with a newspaper in several years, Mr. Bloomberg outlined his plans, which will include raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for candidates and represent his greatest involvement in a national election since he entered public life a decade ago.

Mr. Bloomberg described the Tea Party movement as a fad, comparing it to the short-lived burst of support for Ross Perot in 1992. The mayor suggested that the fury it had unleashed was not a foundation for leadership.

“Look, people are angry,” he said. “Their anger is understandable. Washington isn’t working. Government seems to be paralyzed and unable to solve all of our problems.”

“Anger, however, is not a government strategy,” he said. “It’s not a way to govern.”

Mr. Bloomberg said he wanted to see more of the cooperation once displayed by Senators Orrin G. Hatch and Edward M. Kennedy.

He said that he would not have voted for either of them (“one because he’s too liberal for me, one because he’s too conservative for me”), but added, “These two guys who went into the Senate together and were the closest of personal friends for 40 years, they were everything that democracy says a senator should be.”

via Bloomberg Pushes Moderates in National Races – NYTimes.com.

I dare say Michael Bloomberg has hit his stride.  This is the right message at the right time and place.  Will it resonate?

Radio Open Source » Nicholas Carr: our brains, drowning in the Shallows

In tech on September 12, 2010 at 12:32 am

Is technology–Google, Facebook, etc.–distracting us and making us stupider?

Reading and listening to Nick Carr I find him too subtle for his own argument, and far short of any brain-science evidence that the neurons that fire together when we’re on Facebook are wiring together against our better selves. We are stuck, Nick Carr and I, with a sentimental argument that Nathaniel Hawthorne and Ralph Waldo Emerson would have phrased better on a walk through Sleepy Hollow in Concord, Massachusetts — and doubtless did. A Hawthorne journal entry from 1844 noted the glimmer of sunshine through shadow, “imaging that pleasant mood of mind where gayety and pensiveness intermingle.” Till — horrors! “But hark! there is the whistle of the locomotive, — the long shriek, harsh above all other harshness… since it brings the noisy world into the midst of our slumbrous peace.”

via Radio Open Source » Blog Archive » Nicholas Carr: our brains, drowning in the Shallows.

Study Hacks » The Steve Martin Method: A Master Comedian’s Advice for Becoming Famous

In career on September 10, 2010 at 4:32 am

One of the great bloggers of our time, Cal Newport, explains “The Steve Martin Method” for becoming a superstar.

In Martin’s recent memoir, Born Standing Up, we gain unprecedented insight into this process. Indeed, Martin stated that one of his motivations for the book was to explicitly capture the how, not just the what. (As he mentioned in a December interview with Charlie Rose, he was frustrated with reading other entertainer biographies in which, all of the sudden, “the guy’s performing at the Copa, and you’re like: ‘how did that happen?”).

Even better, the insight Martin provides is applicable beyond just the entertainment industry. It covers most any field in which you might wish to make a name for yourself. In this post, I extract from this source material a simple system — which I call the Steve Martin Method — that captures the essence of Martin’s thoughts on making it big.

via Study Hacks » Blog Archive » The Steve Martin Method: A Master Comedian’s Advice for Becoming Famous.