Bob Reilly takes on neo-conservative Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht in today's Wall Street Journal. Reilly points out that a presupposition of democracy is solution of the religious issue--that is, freedom of conscience. That is, the American model remains the most reasonable means of establishing democratic self-government.
UPDATE: The Reilly letter in op-ed form.
AEI's on-line magazine, The American, posits that "Middle America is a clear picture of how much the basics matter: Cost of living, job quality, schools, and opportunities to develop the right skills for the best jobs."
The Midwest's story is important because it serves in significant ways as a regional microcosm of how growth and opportunity should look in America today.
In awe look at trends that upend the conventional wisdom about the Midwest. We find that it is neither doomed to a slow and dirty demise like an old house on an eroding slope, nor forced to reinvent itself Dubai-style in order to compete with Silicon Valley or Manhattan. The Midwest's future is rooted very much in its past--but with some important updates.
What do we mean? For starters, this means capitalizing on Americans' desire to reside where the cost of living and doing business is favorable. As the last Census showed, Americans move in droves to regions where the cost of living is low, businesses face fewer obstacles, and workers have choices. As Wendell Cox and Joel Kotkin have shown, this goes foras well as . People want options and a good quality of life at a price they can afford.
In the Midwest, these trends have favored placed like Columbus, Ohio . . . .
Noting that 83% of manufacturers nationwide complain of "a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers," the authors suggest that the Midwest is on the verge of a "new industrial paradigm," which will be "characterized by a blend of heavy manufacturing, new technology, a more highly educated industrial labor base, and lighter labor restrictions." That last factor is a reference to labor law reforms such as the recent movement to quell labor unions and establish "right-to-work" states.
When you add to all of this the new energy sources discovered in some parts of the Midwest--such as new finds in Utica shale in Ohio--a new industrial paradigm in the region could end up being a large source of new wealth creation in the coming generation.
Let us hope that Ohio may provide the model by which to lead America from economic malaise. But to do so, those who are opposed to labor reform and who wish to suppress natural gas production will have to be defeated. Unions and environmentalists - that is, Democrats - continue to prioritize self-interest and disfavored ideologies above economic recovery. One hopes that these factors will influence voters in Ohio, the Midwest and throughout America in November.
The AFP news agency quoted White House spokesman Tommy Vietor as saying the $192 million aid package would be devoted to "ensuring the continued viability of the moderate PA government under the leadership of [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad."
Among domestic issues, creating jobs almost always won, while combating climate change almost never did. Immigration is also a losing issue (except when paired with climate change), while access to affordable health care is a winner.
Romania took a €20 billion ($26 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank in 2009 when its economy shrank 7 percent. The government has hiked the sales tax to 24 percent and slashed public sector wages by one-fourth in 2010 to meet the conditions of the loan, angering many Romanians.
The IMF and European Commission said in a statement they expected Romania to "continue to observe its economic policy commitments to its international partners."
At a congressional hearing, HHS Secretary Sebelius has to admit she did not consider constitutionally protected religious liberty when she issued her now infamous HHS mandate on insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception. Congressman Gowdy pins her down. Her worst excuse was that she is not a lawyer.
Many contemporary friends of limited government adopt erroneous theories ("states' rights," secession) that actually increase the possibility of tyrannical government, as American history bears out.
Often the case for secession as a device of limited government resorts to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. But Villanova University professor (and MAHG instructor) Colleen Sheehan argues that James Madison, author of the Virginia Resolutions, had a much profounder view of not only federalism but the nature of popular government than his friend Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Kentucky Resolutions.
Whereas Jefferson sought to implement modes outside of the ordinary processes of law, in the form of constitutional conventions or negations of contractual/compact agreements, Madison sought to establish a political practice in which, whenever possible, the settled decisions of the people would control and direct government. Madison's cure was not to pit the extraordinary authority of the people against the ordinary deliberative processes of majority decision-making, but to hold the government dependent on and answerable to the deliberate, sovereign public.
Her essay appears in a series on the provocative Library of Law and Liberty website of the Liberty Fund.
A hero to many contemporary conservatives and libertarians, William Graham Sumner (who penned the phrase "the forgotten man," which was then misappropriated by FDR), takes a beating from Steve Hayward. Sumner joined the attack on Progressive Darwinists who, along with this Social Darwinist, renounced the Declaration of Independence.
The Heritage Foundation has put on-line its Guide to the Constitution, co-edited by David Forte and Matthew Spalding. This is a line-by-line commentary with major essays by significant legal scholars. Heritage does terrific work with its instant digests on contemporary policy issues, but this is something different, yet relevant to policy debates.
Take this analysis of the first line of Article II of the Constitution, on the nature and scope of executive power, "the vesting clause." There's even a teacher's companion guide, besides the essay by UVA law professor Sai Prakash and a brief (and diverse) bibliography of legal scholarship.
Or consider co-editor Forte's thoughts on the commerce clause, now at the heart of the Obamacare case, to be decided by the Court this term. Are you clear on the meaning of "to ... regulate commerce ... among the several states"? And so it goes, line by line, through the whole Constitution.
The achievement deserves favorable comparison with the best encyclopaedias of legal thought, such as the grand project of the late Leonard Levy. And besides Heritage's is on-line, will be constantly updated (not a living Constitution, but a lively commentary) and free.
The Pew survey adds to a wave of surveys and studies showing that GOP-sympathizers are better informed, more intellectually consistent, more open-minded, more empathetic and more receptive to criticism than their fellow Americans who support the Democratic Party.
. . .
A March 12 Pew study showed that Democrats are far more likely than conservatives to disconnect from people who disagree with them.
. . .
A March Washington Post poll showed that Democrats were more willing to change their views about a subject to make their team look good. For example, in 2006, 73 percent of Democrats said the GOP-controlled White House could lower gas prices, but that number fell by more than half to 33 percent in 2012 once a Democrat was in the White House.
UVA researchers have used a massive online survey to show that conservatives better understand the ideas of liberals than vice versa. The results are described in a new book by UVA researcher Jonathan Haidt, "Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.
The book uses a variety of data to argue that conservatives have a balanced set of moral intuitions, while liberals are focused on aiding victims, fairness and individual liberty. Conservatives recognize how liberals think because they share those intuitions, but liberals don't understand how conservatives think because they don't recognize conservatives' additional intuitions about loyalty, authority and sanctity, Haidt argues.
. . . researchers have learned that Internet sites offering financial information, sports scores, online-auctions attract far more interest from Republicans than from Democrats, according to a 2010 study by National Media Research, Planning and Placement, based in Alexandria, Va.
In contrast, Democrats outnumber Republicans at online dating sites, job-searches sites, online TV and online video-game sites, said the firm.
All very interesting - and very unsurprising.
On psychedelics you have an experience in which you feel there is something you are a part of, something else is out there that's bigger than you, that there is a dazzling unity you belong to, that love is possible and all these realizations are imbued with deep meaning. I'm telling you that you're not going to forget that six months from now. The experience gives you, just when you're on the edge of death, hope for something more.
U.N. Security Council Unanimously Agrees to Send More Observers to Syria
Literature, Poetry, and Books
The fact is this president has been so respectful of the Republicans in Congress. He has given them every opportunity for the executive and the legislative branch to work together, to have a solution that has bipartisan support. He's been criticized by some for taking the time that it takes to find out that they're never going to give him a break, which is a compromise
Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.
Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.
Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people's rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.
So just as Congress could therefore ban the speech of nonmedia business corporations, it could ban publications by corporate-run newspapers and magazines -- which I think includes nearly all such newspapers and magazines in the country. ...
Congress could also ban the speech and religious practice of most churches, which are generally organized as corporation. It could ban the speech of nonprofit organizations that are organized as corporations. (Congressman McGovern confirms this: "My 'People's Rights Amendment' is simple and straightforward. It would make clear that all corporate entities -- for-profit and non-profit alike -- are not people with constitutional rights. It treats all corporations, including incorporated unions and non-profits, in the same way: as artificial creatures of the state that we the people govern, not the other way around.") Congress could ban speech about elections and any other speech, whether about religion, politics, or anything else. It could also ban speech in viewpoint-based ways.
Facing intense criticism over the nationalization of its biggest oil firm, Argentina on Thursday ordered the seizure of YPF Gas, another group controlled by Spain's Repsol, a move expected to further inflame tensions.
Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk -- the kind of ranting we've heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) -- is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.
Let me be clear: I'm saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left -- and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.
As a rule, I believe nothing Eugene Robinson says, but his absurdities today reveal a particularly delusional pathology. The rants of Nugent (referring to the Obama administration as "coyotes in your living room") and West (referring to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as communists) do not hold a candle to the daily incendiary language of the left.Believe me, I would prefer not to dignify the ravings of Nugent or West by commenting on them.
We know who the active denialists are - not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let's start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let's make them pay. Let's let their houses burn. Let's swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let's force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.
They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?
I must say, Barack found himself a devoted and faithful bride in Michelle. This administration has a record that only a mother could love. But Michelle is still praising her man with psalmic reverence."This President has brought us out of the dark and into the light."
The Biblical quote references the messiah, though one wonders if the same is true for both quotes. Perhaps Michelle would subscribe to the whole verse, with minor substitutions:...who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
After all, until Obama's ascension, America was a nation of "uninvolved," "uninformed," "complacent" "cynics" and "sloths," who were "guided by fear," whose "souls are broken" and who were "just downright mean." Michelle had never felt pride in America until Obama was elected. So it would not be difficult to imagine that America is now a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, because it has declared Obama's virtues and become his people - a people called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light.But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare his virtues, who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Who in times past were not a people: but are now the people of [Obama].
Securing permission to use these "signature strikes" would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.
I wonder if that's also a covert action.The practice has been a core element of the CIA's drone program in Pakistan for several years.
Yesterday marked the 153rd anniversary of the death of Alexis de Tocqueville, the extraordinary biographer of America, in all its splendor and its deficiencies. His principal virtue was his insight that liberty-smothering bureaucracy--what he termed "centralized administration"--was at the core of contemporary ills, and it would worsen, as this scandal (more serious than the GSA) reminds us.
This Tocqueville anniversary coincides with the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson's bold attack on the American founders and his celebration of the administrative state, "What is Progress?" The presidential campaign address also proclaimed the need for Darwinian science to form the basis of our political science. The contrast between Wilson--who equated democracy and socialism--and Tocqueville, who denied such equivalence is most instructive.
Obama's ill-informed attribution of "Darwinism" to Paul Ryan, et al. flies in the face of his own Progressive, Darwinian assumptions, which repudiate constitutional government and justify tyranny.
A few years ago Diana Schaub penned a typically elegant essay on the anniversary of Tocqueville's death.
The Civil War & Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 147 years ago today. The event fell on Good Friday.
George Washington has been named Britain's greatest ever foe, according to the UK's National Army Museum.
The American Revolutionary War hero and the country's first president was the winner of a vote held at the museum Saturday to identify the Britain's most outstanding military opponent, The (London) Daily Telegraph reported.
National Review has an editorial up on President Obama's "Buffett tax" gambit. As they note it won't generate much income for the government, and most people with $1 million or more in income already pay a roughly 30% tax rate.
If the President really wants to tax Buffett, and if Buffett really thinks he's undertaxed, there's a much better way to go. Mr. Buffett claims roughly $40 million in income. He has a net worth of roughly $50 billion. That means his return on investment is less than 1%, for officially purposes at least. Why so low? Buffett pays no dividend in his holding company, and does not take the kind of salary that most people who run large companies take.
If we really want to raise taxes on Mr. Buffett, we should pay attention to the reason why his income is so low. Mr. Buffett's refusal to pay a dividend deprives we the people of a greater share of his true income. And if the failure to buy an item can be taxable--the argument that he supporters of Obamacare make--surely it is also reasonable to force Buffett to pay an "idle capital" penalty. So long as he conspires against the people, and deprives us of tax revenue, by refusing to pay a dividend, he should pay a penalty.
Quote of the Day
In light of the Left's conniption fit about the possibility that Obamacare might be ruled unconstitutional by the court, I thought it might be worth reposting this pearl of wisdom form Professor Tribe:
Whenever I suggest in these essays, for want of space or of humility, that one or another decision seems to me "plainly right" or "plainly wrong," or that some proposal or position is "clearly" consistent (or inconsistent) with the constitution, I hope my words will be understood as shorthand not for a conclusion I offer as indisputably "correct" but solely for a conviction I put forward as powerfully held.
Richard Epstein's latest post gives strength to my post the other day, which argued that Progressives view the constitution the way a passenger on a plane sees the country from 30,000 feet--everything is homogenized into one, unified landscape. Moreover, he notes that that is the only way to justify the modern view of the commerce clause.
Epstein points to Charles Fried as a case in point. (Fried may have served in the Reagan administration, but, as Epstein notes, he has bought the Progressive re-writing of the constitution. Fried also supported Obama for President.) Fried insists that there is no practical limit to the federal government's power under the commerce clause. As Epstein points out, Fried claims "that the scope of the commerce power was settled as early as 1824 in Gibbons v. Ogden, which he does not refer to by name. Of Gibbons, Fried explains, "If something is within the power of Congress, Congress may exercise that power to its fullest extent."
On the contrary, Epstein notes, notes that Progressives like to cite Chief Marshall's opinion in Gibbons v. Ogden to justify a very expansive reading of the commerce clause, "in Gibbons, Chief Justice Marshall wrote without embarrassment that "the completely interior traffic of a State" was beyond the power of commerce to regulate. A fortiori, the regulation of manufacture, agriculture, mining, or health care was far outside the scope of Congressional regulation."
Epstein goes on to note that Chief Justice Marshall very clearly indicated that the federal government has no authority, at least under the commerce clause, to regulate intra-state commerce--of which there was a good deal: "in Gibbons, Chief Justice Marshall wrote without embarrassment that "the completely interior traffic of a State" was beyond the power of commerce to regulate. A fortiori, the regulation of manufacture, agriculture, mining, or health care was far outside the scope of Congressional regulation."
In the founding era, the argument was between loose construction (which the Federalist Party supported) and strict construction (which the Republican Party supported). Both sides agreed that there were real limits to the federal government's power. They disagreed about whether there were implied powers at all. Nowadays, the argument not about whether there are implied powers, but, rather, about whether there is anything that cannot be turned into an implied power. If one may discover some implied powers, may one be justified in discovering any conceivable implied power? Progressives seem to think that the answer is yes--so long as History or Progress demands it.
In other words, the argument today is between loose construction and deconstruction, not between strict and loose construction of the Constitution.
President Obama is probably just trying to work the refs in his comments suggesting he is "confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
Since Progressives have long praised the Court for taking away from the people the right to make law on may subjects, the comment might seem striking. But I actually think it is entirely consistent with the Progressive understanding of the "living constitution." Whatever furthers the Progressive agenda is good, and whatever blocks it is bad. Living is only supposed to be in the direction of "progress." If the Court strikes down laws Progressives like, they will decide that judicial review is passe.
But what if the country is divided about what is "forward" in history? And what if some (many, I suspect) Americans are not living in an Hegelian world in which History has direction?
More evidence that a living constitution is impossible absent a consensus about what's next.
P.S. Obama's criticism of Paul Ryan for "thinly veiled Social Darwinism" draws out a related point. Uncle Barry's moral ideas are from fifty years ago. His Progressivism is trapped in the past. His living constitution is the prisoner of 20th century Progressivism.
However, sober observers remind that the road to democracy is long and winding for Burma.Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, is on track to win at least 43 of the 44 contested seats in Burma's historic parliamentary by-elections.
Burma remains one of the most benighted lands on Earth, but any erosion of the ruling junta's power is a good thing. These electoral successes, while meager, will hopefully lead to a continuing democratic movement.One by-elections, in other words, will not plant the seed for Asia's version of Nelson Mandela's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. If this be a revolution, it will not be in the mold of South Africa. Certainly not of the Philippines, Indonesia, or the Czech Republic. But in a society heavily into astrology and karma, heaven help the junta, neither will it be of the Arab Spring.
Technically, at issue is a quarrel between the European Commission (EC) and the government of Hungary over some obscure laws on judges' retirement ages, ombudsman roles and whether or not Central Bankers ought to swear an oath to the constitution of the state they serve. In reality, the conflict is over fundamental issues such as who decides what European values are, from whence does democratic legitimacy derive in the EU and should a democratically-elected national legislature or the European bureaucracy ultimately decide what legislation is legitimate and what's not.
. . .It is an irony worth noting, that the democratically-elected government of Hungary is being judged by the unelected EC bureaucratic mandarins, who among other recent deeds, denied a democratic referendum to the Greeks and forced on them and the Italians unelected governments, to say nothing of imposing on the Europeans thousands of rules and regulations on which no one has been allowed to vote.The real viciousness of this conflict, however, goes clearly beyond economic policy and political reform and cannot be explained except by realizing that what the Hungarians have done is to commit the mortal sin of challenging the prevailing political culture of the European Union establishment today and thus the very legitimacy of its leftist, multi-cultural Weltanschaung. Much more unacceptable than [Hungary]'s economic policies, to its adversaries, are its political philosophy as exemplified by the new constitution's insistence that Hungary is a Christian nation and proud of it, that marriage is between a man and a woman and that life begins at conception. Commonsense propositions to most Europeans as these are, they make the politically correct EU elites go truly unhinged.