Busy week for me, highlighted by yesterday’s return visit behind the mic for the Bill Bennett radio show—always fun but always a bit terrifying since I have no experience in broadcasting, and this is for real. And now I am back out on the Left Coast again for a few more days of silliness and frivolity with some college pals.
I went rogue and decided to declare yesterday to be “Progressive Rock Day” on the Bennett show, and I reprised the post I had here the other day about progressive rock. Here’s a link to download an MP3 file of the first hour of the show (actually only 36 minutes since the commercials are stripped out), where I reprise the theme in the show opener. But stick around to the second segment; normally in the first hour of the show—from 6 to 7 am eastern time—we don’t get that many callers, but progressive rock lit up the board. I did have one new observation for the Bennett Show’s fine broadcast engineer Claude Jennings, who, being very young, has little knowledge of prog rock from the 1970s and 1980s. How can you tell you are listening to genuine progressive rock? Easy. You can’t dance to it, because of the irregular time signatures. At least not without pulling a hamstring, or being medicated for an apparent epileptic seizure.
Late in the show I mentioned a letter Ronald Reagan had sent to Ben Shaw, the editor of his old hometown paper, the Evening Telegraph in Dixon, Illinois:
“The permanent structure of our government with its power to pass regulations has eroded if not in effect repealed portions of our Constitution. . . I have been speaking particularly in my talks around the country about the 10th article of the Bill of Rights. The federal government is performing functions that are not specified in the Constitution and those functions should be returned to the states and to the people. Of course the tax sources to fund them should also be turned back.”
I received a number of tweets and emails asking for a source. I don’t have an online link you can trace. (UPDATE: Power Line reader Jeryl Bier sends this link to the letter. I really should get up to speed with Googlebooks I guess. Meanwhile, check out Jeryl’s Speak With Authority blog some time.) I got this quote from the volume of Reagan’s letters entitled Reagan: A Life in Letters, edited by Martin and Annilese Anderson and Kiron Skinner. I don’t have a page citation handy, but if you look up the book I am sure it will be easy to find the letter in the excellent index in this collection.
In the second hour of the show, I had a fine conversation with a great friend of Power Line, Peter Schramm of the Ashbrook Center in Ohio. We had a splendid and wide-ranging conversation about politics, the Constitution, and especially the Letters from an Ohio Farmer project. Have a look if you haven’t been there lately.
The other highlight of the week was the panel discussion at the Bipartisan Policy Center on Tuesday on the subject of the Disappearance of Republican Moderates, featuring Dan Balz of the Washington Post; Lee Huebner, an old Nixon hand who was also a pooh bah in the Ripon Society, and Geoffrey Kabaservice, author of Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party, and, batting clean up (figuratively speaking)—me. Kabaservice seems like a nice fellow, and his writing style is quite good, but let me see if I get this straight: liberalism has been steadily ratcheting up government relentlessly for a hundred years, culminating with Obama’s attempt to blow the doors off once and for all, with a gargantuan step increase in permanent government spending, and the Republican Party, which just cruised to the largest landslide election in 70 years in public revulsion of what was going on, are the extremists? I’ll have much more to say about all of this over the next month, but here’s a link to the C-SPAN video of the panel, where I lead off by remarking on how I saw my role as defending extremism and its close correlates, hate and intolerance. I also had some fun celebrating the demise of “moderate” Republicans by reminding the audience of one of Eugene McCarthy’s great quips: “The chief purpose of moderate Republicans is to shoot the wounded after the battle is over.”
Finally, just for yucks, a reminder that Al Gore, though he’s been rather quiet of late, is still the gift that keeps on giving. For some inexplicable reason, I picked up David Maraniss’s biography of Gore published back in 2000, The Prince of Tennessee, and lighted on this passage:
At least as far back as 1984, Gore had talked about writing a book. He and aide Steve Owens were driving out of the Memphis airport one day when Gore said he had a book idea and even a title for it: Salt III. Oh, said Owens, a book about arms control. No, said Gore, a book about the different ways sodium affects our lives. Owens burst out laughing. Doesn’t grab you, huh? Gore said. But he was serious. He had held congressional hearings about contact lenses and saline solution and about the high sodium content in food and he thought he could put it all together into a book about salt.
You. Can’t. Make. This. Up.
But remember—it’s the Republicans who are extremists. Pass it on.
JOHN adds: There actually is a pretty good book about salt–not a goofy Gore-style synthesis, but a real book about actual salt, broadly construed to include salt fish, cheese, sauerkraut, ancient Roman condiments, and much more. It is by Mark Kurlansky and is called Salt: A World History. Check it out!