Monday, July 4, 2011

His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties

It's July 4th, and patriotism is on the menu. Various of my Teabag-symp Facebook friends have been posting the predictable viral status messages that 99 percent won't have the guts to repost!
Everybody, let's do this (and NBC - this one's for you!) ....We should flood Facebook with this...."I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands: one nation under G O D, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all". RE-POST IF YOU THINK GOD, OUR COUNTRY, OUR FLAG, AND OUR MILITARY DESERVE RESPECT!!!! Let's just see how many AMERICANS will re-post
The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it. The American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died protecting it. American soldiers don't fight because they hate what's in front of them...they fight because they love what's behind them. Re-Post this if you support our troops!
So that's what Our Troops are up to, protecting the flag? I thought they were supposed to be protecting our country and defending our freedom -- the freedom to shut up and do what we're told.

This morning a DJ on our community radio station played Randy Newman's "A Few Words in Defense of Our Country," describing it as being critical (but not too critical) of America, which I guess is true, but ... I dunno. At his best, Newman's beyond praise; but he's rarely been at his best in the past thirty years. I'd heard "A Few Words" several times, mostly in video clips of him playing it alone, just his voice and piano, and I think it bothered me because most of his best songs involve an unreliable narrator: someone who, as Newman puts it, knows less about himself than we know about him. I took for granted that in this song, Newman was mainly speaking in his own voice, but when the DJ played the studio version from Harps and Angels, I wondered. The music gave the context, a country ballad with strings, pedal steel, and Floyd-Cramerish piano, and I tried to hear the narrator as one of one of Newman's Southerners -- even one from Good Old Boys, forty years older and somewhat mellowed out. The song worked a bit better that way, but not much. I think Newman is speaking (or singing) in his own voice here, and the trouble is that a nice moderate, reasonable guy isn't as interesting as a bigot; but the point of his best satire is that his bigots, slavers, and other crazies see themselves as nice, moderate reasonable guys.

Still, for the Fourth of July I'd rather offer this Newman standard, which made his PBS audience gasp:

And in honor of the Founders, a couple of bits from Roger D. Hodge's The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism (HarperCollins, 2010):
It might seem odd that there is nothing in the Constitution about banks, since banks were a common subject of political controversy, as was the question of money. As it happens, banks were popular inside the convention but extremely unpopular outside it; leaving banks out of the document can be seen as a tactical maneuver, to eliminate a potential obstacle to ratification. …

Once the new government was formed – after squabbling over whether President Washington should be addressed as “Your Highness,” “Your Excellency,” or “His High Mightiness, the President of the United States and Protector of Their Liberties,” a dispute that consumed John Adams and appalled Madison – the debate over the chartering of the United States Bank divided Congress into bitter camps [106].
The Whigs were no less corrupt than the Jacksonians, as Daniel Webster’s famous note to Nicholas Biddle, the president of the U.S. Bank, makes clear. Webster’s candor was magnificent: “I believe my retainer has not been renewed or refreshed as usual,” he wrote to Biddle. “If it be wished that my relation to the Bank should be continued, it may be well to send me the usual retainers” [164].