Posts tagged ‘George Washington’

The Only Solution is To Take Their Power Away

Give people power and they will abuse it.  I don't care if it is Chicago Democrats or New Jersey Republicans.  Most recent example:

A top aide to Gov. Chris Christie told an executive at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey it was "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" before the authority closed lanes onto the George Washington Bridge in September, triggering a week of massive traffic jams, documents show.

The aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, sent the email, dated Aug. 13, to David Wildstein, a political ally of the governor who was the authority's director of interstate capital projects.

Mr. Wildstein, replied: "Got it."

Apparently this conversation occurred in response to Fort Lee's mayor Mark Sokolich refusing to endorse Christie in last year's governor race

[Mr. Wildasin said] in an apparent reference to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich: "It will be a tough November for this little Serbian."

Mr. Sokolich said in an interview Wednesday, "I didn't sign up for this petty political insanity."

Mr. Sokolich said he was now convinced he'd been the target of retribution for not endorsing Mr. Christie. "I've been punished not for something I've done, but for something I didn't do," Mr. Sokolich said. "This is the behavior of a bully in a schoolyard. It is the greatest example of political payback."

Also, Mr. Sokolich said he is Croatian.

Mr. Wildasin seens to have been teleported out of a Sopranos episode.

Wow, It Turns Out We do Have A Hereditary Aristocracy in this Country

Should we just change the name now from "Senate seat" to Duke of Massachusetts now?

With Massachusetts having paid its final respects to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the politics of succession begins in earnest this week - candidates will emerge, a race will take shape, and the Kennedy clan will have to reveal whether it wants to keep the seat in the family....

"Joe Kennedy, as emotionally drained as he must be, cannot help but be moved by the outpouring of affection and respect that has come from people all over the country in the last several days,'' said Dan Payne, a longtime Democratic media consultant. "I'm not saying he is going to run, but he wouldn't be human and he wouldn't be a Kennedy if he didn't give serious thought to running for the so-called Kennedy seat.''

I am somehow reminded of this story about George Washington, who turned down power after his army had beaten the British in the Revolutionary War.  All of Europe expected him to claim power.  Instead:

Give the last word to Washington's great adversary, King George III. The king asked his American painter, Benjamin West, what Washington would do after winning independence. West replied, "They say he will return to his farm."

"If he does that," the incredulous monarch said, "he will be the greatest man in the world."

That is what was considered greatness in that age - the willingness NOT to pursue power, even when by military success or family name such power could easily be had.  Unfortunately we celebrate just the opposite today, singing eulogies for a man and a family that do nothing but seek power.

On Presidential Power

While I find the torture recommendations in John Yoo's memos awful, they worry me less than the general assumptions embodied in them about presidential power.  After all, the issue of allowable tortures is a narrow issue that can be dealt with efficiently through Congressional legislation, and is almost certainly something to be disavowed by the next administration.

Based on historical precedent, what is less likely to be disavowed by the next administration are the broader definitions of presidential power adopted by GWB.  It is in this enhanced theory of presidential power where the real risk to the nation exists, and, unfortunately, there are all too few examples since George Washington's declining to run for office a third time of president's eschewing power.  Already, folks on the left are crafting theories around using the imperial presidency to address their favored issues, such as the University of Colorado's proposal for implementing greenhouse gas controls by executive fiat.

Correction on Life Expectancy

Bird Dog writes me with a correction to my statement that even the poorest today enjoy much longer life spans than folks 100 years ago.  He writes:

In the past, average life span was short, due to infant and childhood
mortality, and young adult mortality, due to infectious disease. It's a
statistical error, really.
 
There was a bi-modal mortality, peaking in the early teens, and again
in old age. Infant mortality was high.  That youth mortality has been
eliminated by antibiotics, so we no longer have a bimodal mortality graph. But
that youth mortality falsifies the historical averages, giving the
appearance of a lower life span than today..

That is a valid point.  Of course, the much longer average life span has meaning, just not in the exact way I implied.  In a previous article, I formulated this difference more carefully, and in a way I think is consistent with Bird Dog's observation:

1)  A hundred years ago, you would have been more likely, by an order of magnitude, to see at least one of your kids die.  Even in my father's generation (born in 1922) it is unusual to find anyone who did not lose a brother or sister young, as both my mom and my dad did.

2)  Many people from centuries past lived as long as we today might expect.  Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and John Adams all lived to ages we would even today call "old".  However, I would venture that most of these folks' lives in their last ten or twenty years was of much lower quality than our lives at these ages today.  We may not live much longer, but our last 10-20 years are much more enjoyable.  My father-in-law was biking and white-water kayaking in his seventies right up to his untimely death in a car accident.  Among other things, teeth, eyes, and joints are all body parts that tend to fail in a non-terminal manner.  We can fix many of the age-induced problems with these parts, and while it may not extend life, it sure as hell extends living.