URLs du Jour

2019-08-14

[Amazon Link]

  • I'll just copy Charles C. W. Cooke's Corner observation in its entirety: Poetic License.

    The angry reaction to the news that the executive branch intends [to] enforce the longstanding “public charge” rules that have been a part of American law since 1882 suggests to me that progressives are simultaneously of the view that we should read the Constitution as a living, breathing document and that we should read Emma Lazarus’s poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty as an unalterable, legally enforceable contract.

    Supplementary reading: She Was Never About Those Huddled Masses, WaPo op-ed by Roberto Suro, on the Lazurus verse.

    It took a long time for Lady Liberty and the huddled masses to become completely intertwined. Most of the early mythologizing of the statue played on its patriotic appeal. The poem, written for a charity auction that raised money for the statue's pedestal, was never commercially published and got no mention at the statue's grand opening in 1886. Lazarus died a year later at age 38. In 1903, her friend from New York high society, Georgina Schuyler, had the plaque made to honor Lazarus. There was no ceremony when it was placed on a stairway landing inside the pedestal. For decades it went largely unnoticed, a memorial to a writer and reformer who died young rather than a defining inscription for the statue.

    Immigrants arriving in New York Harbor celebrated the statue, but as John Higham, the great historian of American immigration, tells it, the poem and the image of the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of welcome gained broad currency only after the immigrant ships stopped coming. The "golden door" was slammed shut by highly restrictive national quotas enacted in 1924. Then, during the Great Depression and World War II, it became popular to herald immigrants' contributions in the interests of national unity, and the statue became part of the lore. The poem was rediscovered and popularized as part of unsuccessful campaigns to open the United States as a refuge for Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, a new version of Lazarus's cause. In 1945, with that point moot, Schuyler's plaque was moved to a prominent spot near the pedestal's entrance.

    Monty Python once observed: "Strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’ swords is no basis for a system of government." Maybe we could also say: Activist socialite women writin' so-so poetry is no basis for immigration law.


  • If you need a reason to vote against every Democrat in the Senate, should they come up for re-election in your state, Jacob Sullum (at Reason) has a biggie: Every Democrat in the Senate Supports a Constitutional Amendment That Would Radically Curtail Freedom of Speech.

    Every Democrat in the Senate is backing a constitutional amendment that aims to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the 2010 decision in which the Supreme Court lifted legal restrictions on what corporations and unions are allowed to say about politics at election time. That would be troubling enough, since Citizens United, which involved a film that was banned from TV because it was too critical of Hillary Clinton, simply recognized that Americans do not lose their First Amendment rights when they organize themselves in a disfavored way. But the so-called Democracy for All Amendment goes much further than nullifying one Supreme Court decision. It would radically rewrite the constitutional treatment of political speech, allowing Congress and state legislatures to impose any restrictions on election-related spending they consider reasonable.

    Yes, my fellow New Hampshirites: that includes our state's senators, Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan.


  • Of course, it's not just Democrats who want to chip away at that whole free speech thing. James Pethokoukis suggests not going along with the latest stupidity out of the White House: Let's not censor and ruin the internet over dodgy bias issues.

    I hope this is #FakeNews, but I fear it isn’t. CNN reports that the Trump White House has drafted an executive order that “could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook, Twitter, and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites,” according to sources. Specifically, the draft order attempts to limit Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a part of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that gives internet companies broad immunity from lawsuits over third-party content. 

    CNN: “Under the draft proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.” 

    I was cheered up when the FCC dumped Net Neutrality; so now they're going to go for something even worse? Hope Ajit Pai lives up to his previous defense of Internet laissez-faire.


  • And the Google LFOD News Alert rang for… a WaPo op-ed from Jon Meacham: We’re in the middle of a revolution on death.

    Tuesday was to be the day — in the morning, because everything was taken care of. The goodbyes had been said, the tears shed, the coffin handmade. In the spring of 2018, Dick Shannon, a former Silicon Valley engineer with untreatable cancer, took advantage of California’s “death with dignity” law to end his own life once all other medical possibilities had been exhausted.

    “My observation about the way people die, at least in America, is they . . . are not allowed the opportunity to be part of the process,” Shannon explained. “For my way of thinking, the part that bothers me just immensely is not being allowed to be part of that process. It’s my death. Go with what you believe, but don’t tell me what I have to do.” Discussing the ultimate decision with his doctor, Shannon remarked, “It’s hard to fathom. I go to sleep and that’s the end of it. I’ll never know anything different.” He paused, then said simply: “Okay.”

    OK, Dick. Sorry to see you go. But LFOD? Ah, here it is:

    America is becoming ever more like itself when it comes to death. From Walden Pond to Huck Finn’s lighting out for the territory, we’re a nation of individualists, shaped and suffused by self-reliance and a stubborn allegiance to the live-free-or-die motto of the Revolutionary era. With this twist: Baby boomers and their successor generations are insisting on being free to take control of death itself. Innovation, creativity and customization — the hallmarks of our time, an age in which we can run much of our lives from our mobile phones — are now transforming both how we die and the mechanics of remembrance that come afterward.

    Well, fine. I for one, plan on not going gentle into that good night, if at all possible. I've managed to live my whole life without dignity so far; why should the end be any different?


  • And finally:

    I'm particularly fond of Harry Potter and the Constitution of Liberty.


Last Modified 2019-08-14 10:11 AM EDT