Progressives and progressivism

Civil War on the Left, Part 9

Featured image Further to our occasional series about the civil war on the left (part 8 here), it is worth taking note of a new article by Paul Waldman in The American Prospect (one of the more smartly written lefty journals) entitled “Can Liberalism Survive Obama? Yes, It Can.”  I’ll skip over the obvious ironic mocking of the title, and proceed to some relevant excerpts: It isn’t hard to find discontent with »

A book for all seasons

Featured image Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is the book of the season. Published by Harvard University Press, it is a surprise best-seller. At the time of its publication earlier this year it neatly fit Obama’s theme of the moment on income inequality. Readers seem to have abandoned the book at page 26, as Obama seems to have abandoned the theme of income inequality. As the title of his book »

CRB: Mucking around

Featured image We welcome the publication of the Spring issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here) this week. In keeping with custom our friends at the Claremont Institute have allowed us to preview three pieces I chose for our readers. We began on Monday with CRB senior editor William Voegeli’s essay “The Redskins and Their Offense.” Yesterday we highlighted “Whistleblowers and traitors,” Hudson Institute senior fellow Gabriel Schoenfeld’s review of »

A Less-Is-More Presidency? (And Who Ruined It in the First Place?) [with comment by Paul]

Featured image A few days ago George Will devoted a column to advocating that a good presidential candidate—and by extension a good president—would be someone who talked less and promised less: All modern presidents of both parties have been too much with us. Talking incessantly, they have put politics unhealthily at the center of America’s consciousness. Promising promiscuously, they have exaggerated government’s proper scope and actual competence, making the public perpetually disappointed »

The Great Society’s greatest achievement isn’t so great

Featured image The Washington Post is running a series called “The Great Society at 50.” At times, the project seems like an effort on behalf of progressivism to revive the reputation of a shockingly bad liberal president, just as the buzz around Thomas Piketty’s new book seems like an effort to revive shockingly bad economic doctrine. It happens that my father had a ringside seat for the launch of the Great Society »

Gabriel Kolko, RIP

Featured image About 10 days back I flagged for a pick Ron Radosh’s obituary of Martin Sklar, a Marxist-inspired historian whose works on the rise of the regulatory state in the late 19th century were ironically popular with conservatives and libertarians.  Funny thing about some Marxists; they often stumbled across the truth, but, to borrow Churchill’s line about Stanley Baldwin, dusted themselves off and carried on as though nothing had happened.  Actually »

Barron on the administrative state

Featured image Paul has been writing about the nomination of David Barron to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit (here and here). I’ve been writing about the questionable status of the administrative state in light of the separation of powers under the Constitution. To the extent of my capacity to understand, Publius has been my guide and authority. Barron stands at the intersection of Paul’s and my interests. »

Publius on the administrative state

Featured image Numbers 47-51 of the Federalist Papers address the separation of powers. They lie at the center of the collected papers and they are important. Taken together, however, they are difficult; they present a challenge to our understanding. Bill Kristol contributed a superb essay on these particular numbers to Saving the Revolution: The Federalist Papers and the American Founding, edited by Charles Kesler. I recommend it, but those numbers make good »

The Limitations of the Law

Featured image Scott and Paul rightly express skepticism over George Will’s optimism that the Supreme Court will follow the plain language of the Constitution’s “origination clause” when it comes to Obamacare’s “tax.”  I mean, after all this time, why start following the Constitution now? Whether and how the judiciary should be “activist” in defense of liberty is a question that divides conservatives and has a long history, but let’s step back for »

“The debate is over” — a core progressive tenet

Featured image Joel Kotkin writes about the spread of “debate is over” syndrome. It’s a good article, but marred by the author’s surprise that this “embrace homogeneity of viewpoint” finds expression by the American left, “the same people who historically have identified themselves with open-mindedness and the defense of free speech.” Actually, “debate is over” syndrome expresses a core tenet of American progressivism, and one that has been present from the beginning. »

Essence of the Constitution

Featured image In his column today, George Will lauds a short new book by Timothy Sandefur, The Conscience of the Constitution: The Declaration of Independence and the Right to Liberty. Will provides a short course in the original understanding of the Constitution and the Progressives’ effort to remake it in the name of “democracy.” Please check out his column. The column presents a useful reminder of the difference between modern liberals and »

Roots of totalitarian liberalism

Featured image With the cashiering of Brendan Eich as Mozilla’s chief executive officer last week, we are struggling to understand what we have just seen. There is an important book that remains to be written about the totalitarian imperative at the heart of liberalism, and the insight into the nature of the larger forces at work is one of the many reasons Eich’s forced departure strikes a nerve. It is a revealing »

Crisis of the administrative state

Featured image Studying administrative law in law school, I don’t think we read anything that raised questions about the legitimacy of the agencies giving rise to to it. We took it as a given and picked up the story with the passage of the Administrative Procedure Act in 1946. We should have taken a look at the question of legitimacy in constitutional law, and probably did, though the standard New Deal account »

Whatever happened to the Constitution? cont’d

Featured image The Progressive assault on the Constitution of limited government and divided powers succeeded in the creation of the apparatus of the administrative state. In the administrative state, executive branch agencies exercise judicial and legislative powers. The assumption of royal or dictatorial powers by the president has grown up along with the administrative state. President Obama has accelerated the process and aggravated the phenomenon. We have previously quoted Professor Jean Yarbrough: »

Whatever happened to the Constitution?

Featured image The Progressive assault on the Constitution of limited and divided powers gave us the sixteenth amendment (authorizing the income tax) and the seventeenth amendment (providing for the direct election of United States Senators) to the Constitution. This past week Paul Moreno decried the impact of these amendments in the column “How the states committed suicide.” When it comes to the damage done to the original Constitution by the Progressives, I »

George Will explicates the text

Featured image In the Chris Matthews kneepad interview on MSNBC — I fastened on this strand of it here — President Obama unburdened himself of the deep thought that “we have these big agencies, some of which are outdated, some of which are not designed properly”: “We’ve got, for example, 16 different agencies that have some responsibility to help businesses, large and small, in all kinds of ways, whether it’s helping to »

The Cracked Guide to Public Policy

Featured image One of the basic techniques of public policy analysis to convey to students (and alert citizens) is the law of unintended consequences and its corollary, the law of perverse results.  I typically say these are the two most frequently enacted laws by Congress and our state legislatures (like Obamacare, though many of its perverse results are fully intended). So lo and behold, it ought to be an embarrassment to the »