Ode to Churchill, Walker, courageous speech, and anonymous cowards

Looking for underwriters for my latest project: park a beater car in the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood, plaster it with pro-Walker sentiments, then train a hidden camera on the affair. The time-lapse photography would show, by video’s end, a smoking hulk like something out of Baghdad.

I am rereading William F. Manchester’s magnificent biography of Winston Churchill, which I first encountered upon publication in 1988. The Last Lion: Alone 1932-40 was intended as the second of a trilogy, but advancing age slowed the author’s pen and it proved to be the final in the series.

I revisit few books, which poses this question: what books have you read more than once?

I am struck by this passage, here abbreviated:

“In 1897, as a 23-year-old cavalry officer stationed in India, Winston had written a striking essay [about] diction, rhythm, accumulation of argument …

“The key to a speaker’s impact on his audience, he believed, was sincerity: … ‘Before he can move their tears his own must flow. … Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his offices, whoever can command this power is still formidable.’

“Now, nearly 40 years later, abandoned by his party, betrayed by friends, and stripped of office, Churchill himself had grasped and mastered rhetorical skills, and in the RAF [Royal Air Force] debate of 1936 his range, force, and depth held the House rapt and brought Stanley Baldwin to his knees.”

Churchill as a young man could have added another attribute to his essay. That would be “courage,” surely required during the dark days of appeasement and the Battle of the Blitz. But the soldier who had participated in the empire’s last cavalry charge at Omdurman may have assumed the virtue.

The heckler’s veto

The Churchill passage resonates during The Troubles here in Wisconsin, especially for those of us who live in the belly of the beast, where the passion of the mob crowds out reasoned debate.

How courageous is Blaska, hero-worshipper of the Last Lion? “Recall Walker” signs blight many front yards in my neighborhood as they do throughout the city of Madison whilst the Squire of the Stately Manor debates the most auspicious time, considers the most advantageous location, consults the weather forecasts and various soothsayers before he posts his pro-governor sign.

I do fly the colors on the tailgate of my pickup truck, but it is a magnetic sign, which can be readily removed when prudence dictates and courage flags. For I must consider the experience of this resident in the neighborhood of Madison’s Olbrich Park, whose bumper reads, “I Stand With Scott Walker.” She found this note attached to her windshield this morning and forwarded it to the Divine Miss Vicky:

There is a reason the Klan wore hoods and masks and that tyrants do their best work, which is to say, their worst work, at night.

Rush, at least, apologized

Chapter the Umpteenth in “Liberals, the Moral Equivalence of:” As recorded by the Weekly Standard on Sunday, March 11:

“ABC host George Stephanopoulos asked New York senator Chuck Schumer this morning whether Democrats should return Bill Maher's money.

“Maher, who recently pledged $1 million to President Obama's super PAC, is under fire for misogynistic comments directed toward Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann, after Democrats targeted Rush Limbaugh for his own unsavory remarks.

“‘Well, no, I mean, look the bottom line is, Rush Limbaugh’s comments were just nasty and directed at a particular young woman who had a particular point of view and was expressing herself,’ Senator Schumer tells Stephanopoulos. ‘Bill Maher is a comedian. It’s much different.’”

As Lisa Loopner would say, “Bill Maher is so funny I forgot to laugh.” 

It is the same sort of vile imprecation thrown the way of Ann of Althouse and the Divine Miss Vicki over at TheDailyPage Forum. How readily the liberal men over at the Forum resort to the most vile of sexual epithets. Anonymously, of course.

A caller to Miss Vicki’s show on Friday justified the abuse: she had it coming. Here is her latest death threat.

No freedom of speech for thee

It is a terrible irony that a newspaper columnist would use the Constitution’s guarantee of free speech to argue that the same freedom should be denied those with whom he disagrees.

In Sunday’s Views of the Capital Times, Comrade John Nichols advocates that the First Amendment to the Constitution should be amended for the first time in its 220-year history in order to restrict the political speech of corporations except, presumably, that of The Capital Times, Inc.

If corporations are not people, as Nichols contends, then neither are the Democratic Party, One Wisconsin Now, or Capital Newspapers, Inc. But all are composed of people in voluntary association — another First Amendment guarantee — and not of polar bears. If, say, the XYZ corporation does not own a press, may it rent one in order to counter Mr. Nichols’ paeans to socialism?

At bottom is Mr. Nichols’ contempt for the ability of people like you and I to sift through the chaff — that sifting and winnowing thing — and make our own decisions.

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