Alleged Constitutional law professor apparently slept through the part of class in which the role of the executive branch is explained.
Kevin Williamson has been exceptionally brilliant this week. Starting off with this piece on why the concept of one-size-fits-all policy is ridiculous on its face. Here’s an excerpt, but read the whole thing:
The idea that there exists a single “right” urban cluster or a single “right” automobile or meal fails to take into account any number of variables, not least of which is the fact that people do not all want or need uniformly the same things, and that it is not really our business to tell them what they should want, even when we believe we know better — even when we have a pretty good body of evidence suggesting that we know better. But then how is it that we have come to believe that there is a single “right” model of education, a single “right” minimum health-insurance package, a single “right” minimum price for a gallon of milk or an hour’s labor, or a single “right” choice among the millions upon millions of options in areas in which politicians insist that what is needed is uniformity and consistency based on whatever happens to pass for empirical evidence at any given moment? How is it that, in a world in which the software we use for so many important tasks in our professional and personal lives is updated every few weeks (or even more often), we have 20-year programs for organizing health care, retirements, and more?…Most federal spending is on various entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and various other welfare benefits. There is not much reason for any of these programs to exist at all — government is a criminally inept pension planner and a thoroughly incompetent insurance company — and there is very little reason for any of them to exist as uniform, one-size-fits-all national programs. Start digging into that non-defense discretionary spending and you end up with very little more than a catalog of crony payoffs and political favoritism…There is no more reason to believe that a single government-run pension scheme is in each individual’s best interest than to believe that a single city or single model of car is right for everybody. And the people who design and plan these programs know that. The point of Social Security — like the point of insisting that health insurance is “a right” rather than a consumer good — is to redefine the relationship between citizen and state. That is the real rationale for a national pension scheme or a national insurance policy. For several generations now, we’ve been changing the very idea of what it means to be an American citizen. It used to mean being entitled to enjoy liberty and republican self-governance under the Constitution. Eventually, it came to mean being eligible for Social Security, functionally if not formally. Now it means being eligible for Obamacare. The name of the project may change every generation, and its totems may evolve from Bismarck to Marx to “the experts” — that legion of pointy-headed Caesars who are to be the final authority in all matters in dispute — but the dream remains the same: society as one big factory under the management of enlightened men with extraordinary powers of compulsion…There is a great deal that is distasteful — positively repugnant — about 21st-century American life. I do not understand why many of my fellow citizens like the things they like or want the things they want. A few times a year, I force myself to watch a reality-television show, and I’m generally ready to emigrate by the time the credits roll. I do not get the values, interests, and preferences of people who are keeping up with the Kardashians. And I am frequently bewildered by their economic decisions and political preferences. But isn’t that a case against having me make decisions for them rather than an argument for that proposition? It takes a very special kind of arrogance to believe the opposite.
The Iraqi Army isn’t up to the job and we knew that before Obama demanded that we leave for political reasons. Obama wanted to get re-elected and the American people are stupid, so, sorry Iraq.
Today in “government ruins everything”…
Yesterday the D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board dropped a cease and desist order into the laps of the booze delivery app Ultra. Although Ultra partners with a licensed booze purveyor to fulfill orders of wine, beer and spirits and deliver them to D.C. households, the board found Ultra was “soliciting orders for sale” and processing customer payments, necessitating a license. The board’s reasoning was laid out in a March advisory opinion rendered for another start-up, BeerRightNow.com.
Oh, look. The New Republic is lying again.
Another great Williamson piece, this one about dictators and the constant vigilance that is necessary to keep them at bay.
I’m 41 years old, which doesn’t feel that old to me (most days), but history is short. With the exception of those trapped behind the Iron Curtain, the world as I have known it has been remarkably free and prosperous, and it is getting more free and more prosperous. But it is also a fact that, within my lifetime, there have been dictatorships in Spain, Portugal, Greece, Poland, India, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, South Korea, and half of Germany — and lots of other places, too, to be sure, but you sort of expect them in Cameroon and Russia. If I were only a few years older, I could add France to that list…There have been three attempted coups d’état in Spain during my life. Take the span of my father’s life and you’ll find dictatorships and coups and generalissimos rampant in practically every country, even the nice ones, like Norway. That democratic self-governance is a historical anomaly is easy to forget for those of us in the Anglosphere — we haven’t really endured a dictator since Oliver Cromwell. The United States came close, first under Woodrow Wilson and then during the very long presidency of Franklin Roosevelt…Rexford Tugwell, a key figure in Roosevelt’s so-called brain trust, was particularly keen on the Italian fascist model, which he described as “the cleanest, most efficiently operating piece of social machinery I’ve ever seen… It makes me envious,” he said. That envy will always be with us, which is one of the reasons why progressives work so diligently to undermine the separation of powers, aggrandize the machinery of the state, and stifle criticism of the state. We’ll always have our Hendrik Hertzbergs — but who could say the words “Canadian dictatorship” without laughing a little? As Tom Wolfe put it, “The dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe.” Why is that? Is there something magical about Albion’s seed — Protestantism? the English language itself? the combination of the two in the King James Bible? — that inoculates the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand against the European intellectual disease? That disease mutates every 20 years, but the primordial strain of the virus is always identifiable: more power, centralized power, consolidated power…Freedom, self-rule, and prosperity are extraordinarily delicate things. The natural state of the human animal is not security and plenty, but terror and privation…We Americans venerate our Constitution as the English venerate their Magna Carta (which is our Magna Carta, too), but it isn’t our laws or our documents that keep us free…What keeps us free is our civilization and our culture, and our tenacity in defending the best aspects of them…As John Fund points out, 13 times since 2012 the Supreme Court has felt itself obliged to unanimously stop Barack Obama from doing violence to the Constitution and the law in the service of aggrandizing his own power. The president’s most recent defeat, in the matter of his attempting to make recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, was a naked power grab, ugly and vicious enough that even Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, whom President Obama named to the Court, both felt obliged by duty to blow the whistle on his transgression. But even the mighty Supreme Court can be overcome…The Constitution can be defaced, and it can be perverted. All it takes is a willing hand. You do not want to bet the future of our civilization on the mood swings of Anthony Kennedy…The worrisome lesson of history is that there is no shortage of strongmen and generalissimos, and their holding power and exercising it ruthlessly is the natural state of human affairs. Nobody has to do anything to make that happen; it’s making that not happen that requires our attention.
Our public schools are a disaster on every level. Unreal.
A kindergartner who pulled his pants and undies down on the playground after another kid told him to do it was hauled off to the principal’s office and forced to sign a “sexual misconduct” form…If only he couldn’t write his name yet! But little Eric Lopez of Surprise, Arizona (yes, what a name), knows his letters. So now he has a label and file that will follow him for the next 12 years. What he did not know—and of course, no one told him—was that he had a right to have his mom present. She didn’t find out until after the forced confession, however, and has since filed a bunch of paperwork trying to appeal the label of “sexualized minor.”
So, we’re now at the point in our society where principals think their only recourse when a five-year-old pulls down his pants is to label him a sexual deviant. Good job, everybody.
Baseball analogies: how do they work?
Scientists claim breakthrough in the battle against superbugs.
For the hundredth time, you already can’t do that. Learn what the laws are, you moron.
There it is! Pretty sure I predicted last week that the helicopters would be the next thing they would go after, and sure enough…
Even if the NFL and Redskins brass come to their senses and rename the team, a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians — an injustice perpetuated not by a football club but by our federal government…In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden…Perhaps the senators outraged by the Redskins name could turn their letter-writing pens on the Defense Department next.
Do you believe me now, when I tell you these people are lying when they say they only want to change this one thing because it’s allegedly a slur? THEY NEVER STOP.
Sweet Jesus. See if you can tell which of these feminist rants are serious and which are satire. Apparently, Beethoven’s 9th is a “rape song,” guys. These people are BATSHIT.
It’s time to annex Canada and put some adults in charge. Six-year-olds don’t know what gender is. They barely know how to go to the bathroom. PLEASE STOP.
In other transgender ridiculousness, this might be the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in my entire life. I was hoping it was a parody, but I don’t think it is.
Obstetricians, doctors, and midwives commit this procedure on infants every single day, in every single country. In reality, this treatment is performed almost universally without even asking for the parents’ consent, making this practice all the more insidious. It’s called infant gender assignment: When the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It’s a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring’s genitals…With infant gender assignment, in a single moment your baby’s life is instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished—both intentionally through bigotry, and unintentionally through ignorance. That doctor (and the power structure behind him) plays a pivotal role in imposing those limits on helpless infants, without their consent, and without your informed consent as a parent. This issue deserves serious consideration by every parent, because no matter what gender identity your child ultimately adopts, infant gender assignment has effects that will last through their whole life…Infant gender assignment is a wilful decision, and as a maturing society we need to judge whether it might be a wrong action. Why must we force this on kids at birth? What is achieved, besides reinforcing tradition? What could be the harm in letting a child wait to declare for themself who they are, once they’re old enough (which is generally believed to happen around age 2 or 3)?… Infant gender assignment might just be Russian roulette with your baby’s life.
This is where we are now, folks. Doctors shouldn’t be able to look at a baby’s penis and declare the sex of the child a boy (an objective reality that cannot be changed no matter how much one wishes it to change). The Left has taken a concept the Onion was mocking just a few years ago, and turned it into a real demand.
Lol. “9 legal professionals who oppose Obama because they’re probably racist.”
Ann Coulter did what she does best yesterday: Troll the Left. And the Left did what they do best: Fall for it EVERY DAMN TIME. It was meant to be funny and I thought it was funny. But the Left is very upset about it. I don’t really understand which part they’re offended by. She’s obviously joking but, apparently, we’re not allowed to mock soccer anymore. Add it to the Left’s never-ending list of things we’re not allowed to do.
One last great Williamson post for the day, this on the case for a boring candidate in 2016. I totally agree. Sadly, our ideal candidate has no chance of winning.
Barack Obama has been anything but boring. “May you live in exciting times” may be a fake Chinese curse, but the wisdom communicated therein is real. Thought experiment: Consider the presidency of Barack Obama from the point of view of the sort of person who is likely to support such men. Having vanquished George W. Bush, he has now given us: a military mess in Iraq complete with the deployment of U.S. troops and a mission that is probably unachievable; the continuing disintegration of Afghanistan and its reversion to a jihadist safe haven; an economy that is shrinking significantly and probably is dipping back into recession; a defense and intelligence apparatus that is abusing its powers and the trust of the American people in ways that are not obviously related to defeating terrorist plots; millions without health insurance; millions out of work; corruption in our public institutions, ranging from the IRS to our universities; a self-aggrandizing political elite that is busy enriching itself through the vulgar exploitation of political connections while incomes for ordinary Americans stagnate or decline; etc. There has been a great deal of excitement, but if you voted for Obama because you were angry about the wars, the surveillance state, and the economy, things aren’t looking any better at all. The most boring president of the modern era probably was Dwight Eisenhower, whose administration was marked by relative peace, prosperity, and confidence in the effectiveness and integrity of our institutions. The most boring president ever surely was Calvin Coolidge, who pinched pennies and kept at his plow, more or less leaving the country free to go about its own business, which turned out to be an excellent economic program. Our most exciting recent presidents? John Kennedy, who was privately corrupt and publicly inept; Richard Nixon, who was privately corrupt and publicly corrupt; Bill Clinton, who combined the worst features of Kennedy and Nixon, adding a distasteful dose of sanctimony to the mix…I myself don’t have a 2016 candidate, but I’ll say this: I don’t want an exciting one. I don’t need to be inspired and don’t desire to be awed or ruled. I want what has been missing these past years: a responsible, sober, honest, predictable federal government, one that recognizes its own limits — constitutional and epistemic — and under which the president is not a hero but a steward.
Vox, derp and the intellectual stagnation of the Left. Great piece by Gobry, here’s an excerpt:
Two things are particularly striking about the current Democratic agenda. The first is that it’s so tired. Raising the minimum wage, raising taxes on high earners, tightening environmental regulation — these are all ideas from the ’60s. The second is that nobody on the left seems to be aware of it…Increasingly, liberal writers have been drinking their own Kool-Aid. They really believe they are the “reality-based community.” When they talk about conservatives they respect, they qualify their praise with “The smart conservative so and so…” — with such “he’s one of the good ones” asterisks betraying the wholly unwarranted assumption on the left that the vast majority of conservatives are crazy, stupid, or both. And yet, liberals themselves are very rarely capable of passing an Ideological Turing Test. They believe not only that an honest evaluation of the world lines up with their worldview (everyone does, to some extent), but have also forgotten how to differentiate between the honest evaluations and their worldview, or that doing so is even possible, or that their worldview is based on very idiosyncratic moral priors. Back when epistemic closure was more salient a problem on the right, the liberal writers who pointed it out were mostly genuinely concerned: A healthy polity needs a healthy intellect on both sides of the aisle. The left needs an intellectually vigorous right, and vice versa — so get your act together.
The amazing story of Ryan Pitts, who will receive the Medal of Honor in July.
France’s prehistoric “Sistine Chapel cave” has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
Wow. Amazing NYT longread about a a NYC firefighter facing his first real test.
Terry Teachout makes a list of the American literature, art, dance and film he’d put on the syllabus for a course on American art.
Every student who took this year-long course would be required to read, view and listen to the following American masterpieces while simultaneously studying the aspects of U.S. history that they illustrate and illuminate:
• Two full-length novels, Willa Cather’s “O Pioneers!” and Robert Penn Warren’s “All the King’s Men”;
• One short novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”;
• Two plays, Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” and Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie”;
• A selection of poems by Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes;
• One group of paintings, Jacob Lawrence’s “Migration Series,” studied in conjunction with a selection of recordings by Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington;
• One dance, Martha Graham’s “Appalachian Spring” (music by Aaron Copland);
• One musical, Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” (choreography by Jerome Robbins, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim);
• Three films, John Ford’s “The Searchers,” Orson Welles’s “Citizen Kane” (music by Bernard Herrmann) and William Wyler’s “The Best Years of Our Lives.”
The kids are not all right: the crumbling cultural foundations of American democracy. John Allen Gay writes:
There was a minor kerfuffle in the press last week when reporters began picking through the academic writings of David Brat, the Virginian economics professor who bested House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary. Brat had written that “If you refuse to pay your taxes, you will lose. You will go to jail, and if you fight, you will lose. The government holds a monopoly on violence. Any law that we vote for is ultimately backed by the full force of our government and military.” That sentence, “The government holds a monopoly on violence,” was held up by a number of publications—the Wall Street Journal and the New York Daily News among them—as a sign that Brat was some sort of extremist. Of course, that phrase is actually a rather standard definition of a successful government: that there are no forces in the polity other than the government that use force in an organized manner. Governments without a monopoly on the use of force have trouble providing the basic social goods of government—security, order, some semblance of justice—or protecting their citizens’ rights. French writer and entrepreneur Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry was dismayed by the media misread of Brat’s remark, seeing the failure of professional political reporters to recognize a basic political-science concept as symptomatic of a broad and dangerous trend. He writes:
“In the understanding of both the great Ancient philosophers and, taking after them, of the thinkers who gave us the Enlightenment and the intellectual scaffolding for our prosperous liberal-democratic society, including the Founding Fathers, democracy did not simply happen. Democracy depended on a robust citizenship, and this citizenship, in turn, was a struggle of all the men (and, now, women) of the polity; it conferred rights as well as responsibilities. In particular, two of the most fundamental requirements of citizenship were virtue and a liberal education.”
Gobry’s remark that “democracy did not simply happen” is an understatement. The concept of citizenship, and the concepts of virtue and liberal education that underpin it, rest upon a vast and unfathomably complex cultural structure. Liberal education, for example, cannot take root in a culture which is intolerant of dissent or suspicious of originality. Virtue will never be widespread in a culture that encourages license…The delicate balances needed here are why democracies are so rare in human history. Those delicate cultural balances are contingent. Events may change them. A successful culture must be able to perpetuate itself in spite of events. And America’s cultural structure isn’t being passed on. A Pew study of millennials last March found that we are less patriotic, less religious, less trusting, less loyal to organized political parties and less likely to be married. As I wrote at the time, “America is currently experiencing a social rupture, one in which old beliefs, old traditions, old ways of life are being abandoned en masse, and in which the communities and institutions associated with the old ways no longer command popular loyalty.” I suggested that this was likely to lead to a growth of the state as cultural sources of social support fade. If Gobry is right that the intellectual foundations of democracy are also fading, that bigger state will raise the stakes of American politics and deepen the divisions in the American polity…Cultural structures, then, don’t always snap back, good as new, when bent. Something is lost. People forget the intricacies when rebuilding from memory. And the singular degree of intergenerational alienation we see today would suggest that the next American cultural restoration will be even more vulgar than the last. We can only hope that those taking the long view are right—that the roots of a diverse and robust American democracy are deep enough to survive the current drought.