Meet the New New Left, Same as the Old New Left

Spending some time with David Horowitz’s fascinating volume entitled Left Illusions…interesting how the arguments of today’s “progressives” are so similar to those of the New Left and its antecedents. Members of that movement felt that they were misunderstood by most Americans, who were too dumb to realize that the “progressives” were trying to “help” them. “We’re doing this for you!” a young Horowitz cried in his head as he marched in the 1948 May Day parade while being heckled by curious onlookers who denounced the marchers as subversive Communist agitators. Barack Obama, a child of the New Left, seems similarly frustrated by opposition to his misguided attempts to “help” Americans through the institution of “progressive” policies. One hope’s eventually Obama will come to his senses as Horowitz did.

What is Terrorism?

This morning a close friend emailed me this article from CNN about this morning’s plane crash in Austin and pointed out the quote, “federal authorities said preliminary information did not indicate any terrorist connection.” My friend asked incredulously, “How is this not a terrorist attack?”

The question reminded me of a comment I made recently on Facebook where I said that in today’s discourse the word terrorism is inextricably linked with Islamic extremism. Commenters largely disagreed with that assertion, strongly objecting to what one termed a highly “narrow” defintion of the word. That narrow definition may not be accurate by Daniel Webster, but it effectively characterizes how the word is used by most non-academics around us.

After taking a moment to think about my friend’s question and my Facebook discussion on the same subject, I posed the question to the Twitterverse. I asked if the Austin plane crash qualified as terrorism. Immediately my friend @mjsamuelson –one of the most intelligent and energetic political activists I’ve ever met–responded “Not since 9/11. From that point “terrorism” had a different connotation.”

Back when Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City, it was always referred to as terrorism. The Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, was also frequently described as a terrorist. Yet today news outlets, federal officials, and many citizens refused to call the deliberate crashing of a private plane into a building full of civilians an act of terrorism.

Is it so that the definition of the word “terrorism” changed on September 11, 2001?

George Washington’s Circular Letter of 1783

While serving as commander-in-chief of the Continental Armies George Washington annually sent letters to the government of each of the several states. So Joseph J. Ellis tells us in his Pulitzer winner Founding Brothers. Particularly notable is the Circular Letter of 1783, wherein Washington offers a profound vision of America that I think is worth considering:

“The Citizens of America, placed in the most enviable condition, as the sole Lords and Proprietors of a vast Tract of Continent, comprehending all the various soils and climates of the World, and abounding with all the necessaries and conveniences of life, are now by the late satisfactory pacification, and acknowledged to be possessed of absolute freedom and Independency; They are from this period, to be considered as Actors on a most conspicuous Theatre, which seems to be peculiarly designed by Providence for the display of human greatness and felicity.”

After wading through superfluous capitalization and strings of clauses laced together with no period in sight, I find the following meaning in Washington’s observation:

Now blessed with freedom from British rule, Americans were in the ultimate position to do what no man had comprehended prior. With unprecedented individual liberty afforded by a remarkable republican government and placed on a continent teeming with every imaginable natural resource, Americans had no excuse for not exhibiting human greatness and happiness. Indeed, given the extraordinary nature of this opportunity, it was only to be expected that the world’s eyes would be on the newly formed nation. The circumstances were such that it was as if God had created the moment for some specific reason, and we for whatever reason were the chosen for the event.

With privilege comes an equal measure of responsibility, and certainly if we look at Washington’s letter through that lense I think we find that rightly much has been expected of America and continues to be expected of us. It is incumbent upon us to strive to maintain our worthiness of what Washington described. Doubtful some may detect in all this a note of the American Exceptionalism which offends some contemporary observers. I contend that the unique facts of our nation’s genesis simply set the bar higher, and it is not arrogance that should arise from that outlook but rather the challenge of being the best we can be. Despite self-inflicted wounds that have shamed the vision, America remains the singular place with the least intrusion upon one’s ambition–one’s pursuit of happiness if you will.

If we should fail to be happy and prosperous, the fault is only ours, said Washington. Something to think about as we look at what has brought us to where we are today as a nation, and likewise as we look at where we are headed.

SOTU Pre-Game Shenanigans: Pelosi Jack-in-the-Box Routine

It was difficult to watch President Obama’s first addressing of the Congress without noticing the unbridled exuberance Nancy Pelosi exhibited throughout as she popped so energetically out of her chair at each applause line. In contrast, Joe Biden barely paid enough attention so as to know when to clap at all. In light of this memory, it seems appropriate to watch the montage again and have the same kind of laugh we have when we watch Howard Dean’s “I have a Scream” speech for the umpteenth time. Because something [like the fact that healthcare reform is in the ER] tells me Nancy may show more restraint this evening.

Obama to propose spending freeze – Glenn Thrush and David Rogers –

Imagine that, Obama the deficit hawk. In what appears to be a political move intended to appease deficit-weary politicos and the public alike, Obama is poised to announce a halt in non-security discretionary spending. Cutting spending and pushing through an aggressive legislative agenda simultaneously will prove to be quite the balancing act, but I suspect the employment of creative fiscal gymnastics by Team Obama will make matters easier.

Obama to propose spending freeze – Glenn Thrush and David Rogers –