Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Published in Shameless Self-Promotion


From Obscure Blogger to Campaign Wordsmith

How to build your resume by blogging: Tim Seibel, who blogged on Santorum the Servant, provides material for Foster Friess's introduction of the GOP aspirant at CPAC today. (See my post here on his original.)  Tim explains the mix of purpose and serendipity that led to his posting.

BTW, Tim comes out of University of Dallas and Claremont Graduate School and currently resides in Colorado Springs.

I knew someone who got a job with then-EEOC Chairman Clarence Thomas by writing letters to the editor of prominent newspapers and articles for the Claremont Review of Books.

Update: And while we're touching on CPAC, note Paul Ryan's speech, which contained this great line: "The only class warfare that threatens America comes from a class of bureaucrats and crony capitalists rising above society - calling the shots, rigging the rules, and securing their places of privilege at our expense." Cf. this NLT post decrying the use of the phrase "class warfare" by Republicans.

Categories > Presidency

Refine & Enlarge

A Constitutional Conversation with an Ohio Farmer

Peter Schramm has diligently brought to the attention of RONLT the series of political treatises known as "Letters from an Ohio Farmer." These missives have now been consolidated in book form under the title, "A Constitutional Conversation: Letters from an Ohio Farmer," which is available for download on Kindle.

The farmer describes the book as follows:

We are not the oldest country in the world, but our written Constitution has endured longer than that of any other people. That fact is worth not only celebrating, but pondering.

This is especially important for members of Congress. As these letters have had occasion to observe, Congress is at the very heart of our experiment in constitutional self-government. In the Constitution, Congress comes first: it is Article I. Congress holds the law-making power without which the president has much less to do and the federal courts nothing at all.

In fact, of all the branches, Congress has the primary authority to interpret the Constitution. Like the president or the Supreme Court, Congress receives its power from the Constitution. Just as the president has no authority to act against the Constitution, you in Congress have no authority to pass legislation that violates it. So - as the 112th Congress has distinguished itself by recognizing - every time you consider a bill, the first question you must ask yourself is not: "Do my constituents like it?" or even "Is it a good idea?" but "Is this Constitutional?" That's not a matter of partisan politics; it's a matter of legitimate authority.

That constitutional deliberation must continue in Congress if we are going to restore the American experiment in self-government. For it is in Congress where the American people most fully govern themselves: where the common rights and responsibilities of the American people are submitted to law, and where the variety of the legitimate interests of the American people are most fully represented. When people's representatives engage in constitutional deliberation, the American people engage in it too.

The book's preface, penned on Constitution Day 2011, is worth quoting in full:

The American people have started a historic conversation - about the foundations, purposes, and scope of our government. In a spontaneous movement they rose to challenge long-established orthodoxies, and a sustained exertion of their sovereign power is changing the direction in which the country is heading. The movement began with no headquarters, no recognized leader, and no agreed upon platform. Thousands of independent groups of private citizens gathered in thousands of public squares across the land. Through all the diverse ideas expressed in these gatherings, one theme shone clearly: the federal government has, over the last several decades, stepped further and further outside the bounds of the Constitution.

How did our government get to this point? What would constitutional government look like? What paths are available to the people and their representatives for returning to constitutional self-government? These and related questions were taken up in a series of weekly letters sent to the 112th Congress over the past year, and collected here, as a humble contribution to this American conversation - a constitutional conversation in the broadest sense. The letters continue and can be read weekly at:

The Ohio Farmer is not one person, but a group of citizens seeking to preserve constitutional self-government in America. The Farmer's letters are written in the tradition of the Federalists and Antifederalists in the American founding who wrote newspaper articles debating the new form of government proposed in the Constitution of 1787. They wrote using pen names such as Publius, or Federal Farmer, or American Citizen, to allow their arguments to speak for themselves and be judged on their own merits. The letters from the Ohio Farmer are offered in the same spirit.

The Ohio Farmer is a project of the Ashbrook Center. The various authors who compose each letter from the Ohio Farmer are partisans in one sense: they are partisans of the constitutional self-government they regard as America's greatest gift to the world. The Ohio Farmer is not primarily concerned with immediate policy questions, though he necessarily discusses them; he hopes to refine and enlarge the public's view of the larger political principles implicit in our policy debates. He is a friend to all who love this country and wish it well; he is searching for that common ground that can unite all reasonable parties who wish to maintain America's glorious tradition of constitutional self-government.

The Letters are necessary reading for political philosophers and citizen patriots alike. They possess the element of timelessness which sets apart historic works of political writing - simultaneously capturing the contemporary zeitgeist while evoking fundamental principles of political philosophy.

Categories > Refine & Enlarge

Shameless Self-Promotion

Moonlight and Magnolias

Since I'm in a posting mood today, I should mention that I am making my directorial debut with the opening of Moonlight and Magnolias tonight at the Mansfield Playhouse.  Here's the description:

Based on a true story, MOONLIGHT AND MAGNOLIAS is set in 1939 Hollywood. Legendary producer David O. Selznick has a problem. He's three weeks into shooting his latest historical epic, GONE WITH THE WIND, but the script just isn't working. His solution? Fire the director, pull Victor Fleming off THE WIZARD OF OZ, and lock himself, Fleming, and script doctor Ben Hecht in his office for five days until they have a screenplay. With only peanuts and bananas to sustain them, they work through and act out Margaret Mitchell's bestseller in an effort to make movie history.

The show premieres tonight on the Playhouse's Second Stage.  Popcorn will be served, and beer (Yuengling) will be available for sale.  The show also runs tomorrow night, as well as next Friday and Saturday (November 18 and 19).  Curtain time is 8:00.  Tickets cost $10 each; to reserve seats, call the Playhouse Box Office at 419-522-2883 between 1:00 and 6:00 pm.

Shameless Self-Promotion

Occupy Wall Street: Facts and Fictions

Daily Caller has posted an article of mine tackling the truths and fictions of Occupy Wall Street coverage.

"Occupy Wall Street" has captured global attention and become the darling of the world press. CNN hosts a "Meet the 99%" webpage advertising the movement on MSNBC's praise of OWS has approached religious awe. Yet for all the attention, many assertions about the movement are flatly inaccurate.

I address fictional media accounts which report OWS as having a "global span" and "global importance," being a "historic movement" (in the image of the Tea Party, Arab Spring and civil rights movement) and having achieved "effectiveness." An example:

Global Span: Claims that OWS has spread to countries around the world - that is, Europe - fail to recall that circuses of this sort have been common in Europe for years. The OWS brand of demonstrator belongs to a quasi-professional cadre of anti-everything crusaders who follow protests like a Grateful Dead tour. Euro-protesters launch copy-cat OWS rallies because that's what they do - they follow protests, not issues. Euro-protests have now reached America, not vice versa.

Several factual accounts are also considered, such as the group promotion of "direct democracy," and projection of "diversity" and "independence." Of course, all of these qualities prove to be liabilities when explored rationally. An example:

Direct Democracy: Commentators report that OWS presents an alternative to established republican government and reacquaints Americans with a strain of direct democracy. This is true, but confuses virtue and vice. OWS looks like direct democracy because it is disorganized, leaderless, inefficient, susceptible to demagoguery, overly influenced by passions and incapable of articulating a coherent philosophy or forming a consistent governing policy. These are precisely the reasons the Founding Fathers prudently rejected direct democracy in favor of representative government.

As always, I hope you'll RTWT.

Shameless Self-Promotion

The Tea Party Postmaster

Reading the tea leaves, I suspect that the Tea Party Republican transformation I observe in the post below in Wisconsin and Washington will eventually shift the entire culture and balance of political power in America. I mention a single example today in my home-away-from-home at Intellectual Conservative.

Noting that "the U.S. Postal Service is a barometer of big-government, socialized policies," I find it unsurprising that it is "a failed business." What is surprising is the Postmaster General's strong stance against the congressional regulations and labor unions which are crippling the USPS's ability to compete in the free market (despite monopolistic advantages awarded by Congress).

the postmaster general threatened on Friday to break labor contracts in order to lay off 120,000 workers and to revoke employee health and retirement plans in favor of cheaper alternatives. These measures are "threatened" because they do not represent the postmaster general's hopes, but rather his Tea Party inspired strategy to coerce Congress into loosen its strangling regulations and labor unions into reasonable compromise.

Apparently, the postmaster general took notice of the Tea Party's debt-ceiling strategy and concluded that the only way to get Congress to act on a crisis is to propose an even worse ultimatum. . . .

The Postal Service is also taking a cue from the Tea Party's influence in Wisconsin by staking out an opposition stance to public sector unions. Breaking union contracts would have been unthinkable in the pre-Tea era.

 As they say, please RTWT.


Obama Taps Oil Reserves

The Obama Administration has decided to tap into the nation's Strategic Oil Reserves to help reduce gas prices, which I complain about in a recent letter to the Los Angeles Times. The decision to release oil from our reserves is a very bad one that serves no purpose other than making it look like President Obama is doing something about America's energy woes. Initially the White House argued that the reserves were being tapped to offset a shortage caused by the Libyan Civil War-- this is a silly notion as Libya only produces 1.5 million barrels of oil a day and the vast majority of it goes to Europe.

The Strategic Oil Reserves are only supposed to be released in the event of a severe disruption in our oil supply-- events like Hurricane Katrina and the 1973 Oil Crisis are examples of appropriate times to release oil from the reserves. Rather than being a response to any real emergency, the Obama Administration's release of the reserves is just a ploy to gain some political goodwill. If they really cared about ending our woes at the gas stations, then President Obama and his allies in Congress would fix the problem they created with a moratorium on offshore drilling, end costly EPA regulations on refiners, and stop paying countries like Brazil billions of dollars to build up their oil resources as we just let our own sit unused. If they really cared about solving our energy problems they would get out of the way of market forces in order to allow entrepreneurs to figure out alternative energies and end subsidies giving an unfair market advantage to certain types of energy like ethanol. Rather than addressing the problem, President Obama seems intent on just punting it down the road like most of his predecessors, giving the appearance of hope for change but not actually delivering it.

Opening our strategic reserves does not help us at all; it only endangers us. Let us hope that a major supply of our oil does not fall prey to instability, terrorism, or nature in the near future.
Categories > Economy

Shameless Self-Promotion

No More Mr. GOP Nice Guy (and Girl)

The Washington Times has published my article predicting the end of the Republican's moratorium on internal feuding.

The Republican presidential candidates have presented a united front. They've held hands and stuck to the message. President Obama is the problem. They - the mature, resolved and above-the-fray Republican opposition - are the solution. Newt Gingrich momentarily strayed from the path by criticizing Paul Ryan's budget plan and was swiftly reprimanded by the greater GOP establishment. Even the recent GOP debate in New Hampshire was more of a GOP powwow. There has been an obvious consensus to defer the intraparty feuding until the GOP has collectively, convincingly and resoundingly identified Mr. Obama as the nation's albatross.

However, Obama's decline and Romney's ascent in the polls "have emboldened the Republican field to abandon their familial camaraderie and adopt a new strategy."

So, after playing nice in New Hampshire - and being widely criticized by the media for refusing to take CNN's repeated invitation to begin in-fighting - the candidates have begun lining up to take shots at the current king of the hill.

Please RTWT.

Shameless Self-Promotion

A Fond Farewell to NLT

After almost ten years of posting intermittently here on NLT, I have to announce with some sadness that I'm moving on.  Our pals at the Power Line Blog, where I've been guest-blogging, have made me an offer too good to turn down--to join them as a permanent partner in the enterprise (and enterprise it is--it is a profitable site).  In exchange they quite reasonably want to have my blogs exclusively there, so I'll be discontinuing my blogs over on NRO's Corner as well as here.

Not to worry: I'll still turn up on the Ashbrook site with feature articles on the home page, and will inflict the occasional podcast with Peter.  I'll probably also post a comment on items here from time to time.  And starting next semester I'll be a visiting professor at Ashland University, starting a new course on political economy.  So I'll still be part of the Ashbrook Center family.  Plus, I'll help promote NLT and the "Ohio Farmer" letters on Power Line from time to time, so this move should actually benefit all of us.

Shameless Self-Promotion

What a Long, Strange Trip. . .

What else can I say about attending a conference of liberals, in Marin County no less, except that it prompted me to dig out every old Jerry Garcia tie in my closet.  (More about this strange trip from the San Francisco Chronicle here.)

Mewanwhile, over on the redesigned website, my list of the dozen best environmental books is up.

Shameless Self-Promotion


I've been a long-time fan of the conservative-libertarian site, Intellectual Conservative, and the good folks over there have invited me to come onboard as a columnist. So, when I wax too long for Peter's patience here on NLT, I'll occasionally redirect an article to IC.

My latest article with IC attempts to "decipher the incoherency of renewable energy." The intro:

Windmills are not the future of the global economy. They were dandy for grain-grinding in the 19th century (and much appreciated for their contribution to bread-baking and beer-brewing), but they've taken their place alongside wooden teeth and horse-drawn carriages. And yet windmills are the latest craze in Congress - the leading-lady in a full ensemble touring Washington under the title, "Renewable Energy." The troupe premiered on the D.C. circuit in the 1960's, with Al Gore soon emerging as the leading-man, and their quixotic environmentalist spectacle recently received an all-expense-paid encore from the Democrats lame-duck Congress.

I hope you'll RTWT.