Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


OWS and a Hill to Die On

In 1984 George Orwell's O'Brien declared, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face--forever."  That's the way I felt when I heard the participants in the Anita Hill lovefest, "Sex, Power, and Speaking Truth."    His narrow confirmation to the Court allowed him to revive American constitutionalism.  We must ever keep in mind this victory in our cultural wars.

Meanwhile, further south in Manhattan, the OWS mobs continue to flourish.  Comparing them to the Tea Party misses the heart of these true descendants of the American Founding:  They stand for the restraints, protections, and procedures of constitutional government. 

Categories > Courts


Progressivism and Democracy

Steven Hayward has a good piece over at AEI on the constant back-and-forth between modern day liberalism and democracy. He points out the "schizophrenic" nature of progressivism over the past century, torn between supporting the unfettered power of administration and the yearning for more-democratic features in our system of governance (so long as the popular will is not opposed to progressive ends).

Liberalism has been unable to decide whether it is for or against more democracy for nearly a century now, ever since it underwent a radical transformation from a creed believing that advancing the cause of individual liberty meant limiting government power and protecting individual rights into the creed we know today of believing that larger and more powerful government is the primary means of securing the realization of individual liberty. None of the liberal complaints about "gridlock" are new; Progressives like Woodrow Wilson deplored the separation of powers and other limiting features of the Founding as obsolete years before he tried to ignore them as president.
Categories > Progressivism

Foreign Affairs

Iranian-Sponsored Terrorist Plot Foiled

According to the Department of Justice, after work done by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency, elements of the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran attempted to carry out a terrorist attack in Washington, D.C. A captured Iranian-American citizen was meeting with elements of the notorious Mexican Zeta drug cartel, offering them cash and opium in exchange for assistance with this plot. They conspired to assassinate the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States and then to carry out bombings at the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies. The plot was orchestrated by elements of the Iranian government, including high-level officials within the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Attorney General Holder refused to say that the Ayatollah or Iranian President Ahmadinejad were complicit in the plans.

Holder and FBI Director Mueller have both said that Iran will be held accountable for this terrorist action. When pressed for what he meant by that, Holder said that the Department of Justice will be working with the White House, the Department of State, and the Treasury Department in order to take further action against the government of Iran, which he reiterated conceived, sponsored, and directed the foiled assassination. This new provocation comes at a time when relations between the Islamic Republic and Saudi Arabia are already incredibly tense, and when the Iranian regime is at odds with the United States and the rest of the West over their pursuit of nuclear technology.

The international intrigue of this dangerous conspiracy almost reads like the plot of a Hollywood movie--Mexican drug gangs, Iranian terrorists, assassination of foreign diplomats. I fear, though, that it adds now to the increasingly disturbing reality that we are running out of options with how to stop Iran. It is a disturbing chain of events, leading in an even more disturbing direction. Hopefully the worst-case scenario can be avoided.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Pop Culture

Leftism Pays

Are the cause kids (as we called the people living the Lefty cliche when I was in college) being paid to protest?  Looks like some of them are. 
Categories > Pop Culture

Pop Culture

D.C. Occupants

Enjoying the lovely weather of yesterday in Washington, I went out to go see some of the Occupy D.C. protestors who were planted downtown in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. Tents were set up in Freedom Plaza, not too far from the White House, and an eclectic group of people held varying signs while people took turns speaking atop a stage set up in the far side of the plaza. Of late the Occupiers in town had gone about protesting at all sorts of various things--the World Bank, the Federal Reserve, K Street lobbying and non-profit organizations, the Treasury Department, the White House, the Chamber of Commerce, etc. They even laid siege to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, leading museum security guards to employ the use of pepper spray after one of them was rushed by a group of protesters (no doubt giving the museum guards one of the most exciting days of their careers). Startling absence of protests on Capitol Hill though; not quite sure why Congress is currently being spared. (Update--Word is that OccupyDC and the AFL-CIO will be protesting Congress on Tuesday now).

What struck me most about my visit was how exceedingly unorganized they were--and a different type of unorganized than the Tea Party. The Tea Party was successful in large part because, though decentralized and lacking any sort of leadership, it still maintained a general message and goal: stop President Obama's healthcare law and reign in the size and spending of government. Thus, while there was often a lot of variety among Tea Party crowds and disagreement over how far it was appropriate to shrink government and how to accomplish that, there was nonetheless a sort of unifying message. I saw no such thing among the Occupy D.C. group, save for them wanting to send the message that they are currently unhappy with the way of things today.

Most complaints were focused on the stale economy and our continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, and the other countries that we are routinely bombing people in. While open socialists and hippies (for lack of a better word) did seem to make up the more visible bits of the group, there was also a mixture of other types--libertarians railing against the Federal Reserve and the War on Terror, unemployed people from out of town expressing their frustration with the job market, peace activists, even a few Tea Partiers, and a handful of not-volunteers. Some of them were normal people just frustrated with things, some of them were young people who just think it's cool to go out and yell about things and pretend like they're making a difference, some people were crazy people. It was just a conglomeration of people venting whatever they felt like venting, and I do commiserate with some of them. I understand the frustration with the economy; there are people very close to me who are unemployed and near-homeless despite years-long efforts to avoid such a sad state. But blocking traffic in the streets and camping out on public land to get out incoherent and angry messages it not the way to resolve this situation.

Due to this lack of a central message and the general chaos associated with these rather rambunctious gatherings, I think that this "Occupy" movement will burn itself out rather than go on to the type of electoral success that the Tea Party had last election. The Taste of D.C. Food Festival, taking place on the street just beside occupied Freedom Plaza (pure coincidence, no doubt), ends today, and the weather is going to start getting colder soon. Judging from the looks of some of these people, they won't be out yelling once it gets uncomfortably cold. After all, it's hard to text or tweet on an iPhone when you have to wear mittens (though I'm sure that the market has noticed this demand and is already working to invent a way to solve that problem if it has not already done so).

The group in D.C. in particular does seem to find one common denominator: they are angry that the banks got bailed out. Of course anger at the bank bailouts has been a staple of the Tea Party for two years, but who's paying attention? Overall, Reason TV's ever-clever Remy Munasifi has the best description yet of the protests. Enjoy.
Categories > Pop Culture


Harold W. Rood, RIP

Odd, how life works.  I was in a happy state that Harry Jaffa would celebrate his 93rd birthday on the 7th, and on that day I heard that Harold W. Rood died the day before.  He was my second teacher in Claremont; not as old as Jaffa, about my mother's age. He taught international relations, national security affairs, and had been at CMC since about 1962.  I'll let someone else tell the historical details--how dozens of "political philosophy" students ended up studying with this untheoretical man, of his many virtues, of this man's good life--I just wanted to say something about his one great virtue.

This entirely American man--loving and kind and sweet--was a great teacher. He was a great teacher unlike Jaffa.  Rood didn't test the logos in the same way, he didn't simply grab the truth as it revealed itself in front of him.   Rather, he talked and the story came out about how men wanted to live rather than die, and what they may then do, and why that is always so.  He was able to portray things outside of our experience in such a way that we could see the shining stars above to be the same as the shining campfires in the soldiers' tents below.  Rood was a great poet. He was able to talk about anger or love in such a way that showed us what it was like to be in anger and to be in love.  He did the same with his love of country. He seduced us this way into thinking, and we loved it and we loved him for it.  No one will ever forget the experience of being with him in a classroom.  May he Rest in Peace.

Update: Over at Power Line, Steve Hayward, another Rood student, writes a fine post on the good professor. 

Categories > Education