Are the Republicans degenerating or just revealing their true selves? With his latest charge that M. Mitt speaks French (Newt does too), it must be speculated that Newt is indulging in (self-)caricature. Of course it can always get worse--someone can appeal to states' rights. Here's a good explanation of why conservatives should speak of federalism instead--plus a few other New Year's political resolutions.
Noting that "progressives have long lamented the fact that the Framers designed a Constitution replete with impediments to federal government activism," the eminent George Will reveals the latest twist of logic by which Colorado liberals are attempting to use the Constitution as an impediment to popular referendums (which would otherwise limit the power of the ruling classes in state legislatures).
Sextion IV, Article IV of the U.S. Constitution reads: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government."
The folks in Colorado argue (tellingly, before an unelected judiciary) that a Colorado initiative limiting the legislature's license to raise taxes (the progressive's golden calf) denies the state a republican form of government. That is, only elected bureaucrats can craft laws - not the people themselves. While direct democracy has many flaws (and was hence rejected by the Framers as an insecure means of safeguarding liberty), its outright prohibition is a novel reading of the Guarantee Clause. Without delving into the history of the clause, I deeply suspect this reading is flawed.
Politically, however, liberals continue to reveal the surprising degree to which they are willing to oppose the people and popular government in favor of a ruling class. On an elementary level, the left - with all of its liberal ideologies of radical freedom, individuality and nonconformity - is incredibly devoted to the system, bureaucratic institutions and ever-expanding government.
I'm having lunch at the Mad Boar in Wallace, North Carolina. Not bad. Large, Irish-pub-like atmosphere, attractive and competent waitresses serving me a cool glass of Pinor Gris, with a pork stew soup, followed by a whiskey river trout. Second glass of wine, and I'm reading, slower now, reactions to last night's GOP debate. The best is by Scott Johnson at Power Line. Crisp and to the point, even witty when the subject allows it. I agree with his thoughts too bad they have to be cruel.
My esteemed colleague Pete, on the debt fracas, below: "the whole controversy was ugly and at most minimally productive." To the contrary, I think this was the most important constitutional debate in memory (other than Obamacare, though I admit I am getting old and forgetful). I wonder whether the Tea Party critics have ever purchased a car. Do they pay the sticker price? They used the power they had to educate the people on our disastrous situation. Would the public be more aware of the crisis had a routine raise been voted through?
My high esteem for Senator Coburn has increased. He exposed Grover Norquist's odd accounting on what constitutes a tax increase: Cutting a subsidy (ethanol) would be a tax increase, in Norquist's view. If that's the case, then reform without a tax increase is impossible. To be fair, a cut in the subsidy would hurt the industry being subsidized and cost jobs, etc. The press coverage of the new law emphasizes the temporary harm to the economy, caused by a cut in public spending, though the reforms will have a good long-term effect.
As with Obamacare, the debt ceiling bill exposed Washington's ways. What shocks us about Washington procedure is in fact routine. Congress passes laws that no one reads through and that grant the real law-making power to bureaucracies. That is the problem. That is what the Tea Party, for whatever naievete it exhibits, has exposed: Our routines are rotten.