Progressives and progressivism

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 »

Progressive Linguistics

Featured image Out in the further reaches of the critical theory left, the necessity of denying objective reality extends to language itself.  The deep-dish post-modernists declaim that language is just another subjective tool of the (white) power structure.  Whenever I hear such drivel, I usually ask not only why are we having this argument, but how are we having this argument?  (And if there is nothing but power in the world, I »

High tide of Obamaism

Featured image It may be too optimistic to wonder if commencement speech to the graduating students of Ohio State University (White House video here) might not have represented the high tide of Obamaism. It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I wonder if it might not be (bumpily, with the implementation of Obamacare before us) downhill from here: Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as »

There He Goes Again: The Latest Problem with “Normative” Political Science

Featured image I dropped by my old haunts at AEI in Washington last week, and stuck my head in Norm Ornstein’s office with the intent of exchanging a few of our ritual jeers and heckles, but he was deep in phone conversation with his bookie or someone.  Too bad, as he’s done it again with his National Journal article on “The Myth of Presidential Leadership.” Ornstein writes in a typically clever way »

The way we live now

Featured image Visiting the site of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale to watch Professor Donald Kagan’s farewell lecture, I found the video below of George Will’s lecture to the group this past January. The lecture provides a short course in the Constitution and the revolt of the Progressives against it, from Wilson to TR and FDR, to LBJ and to Obama. It is learned and vivid, with some pungent »

Just us

Featured image In one of his routines on the justice system dating back to the early 1970’s, comedian Richard Pryor commented sarcastically (in language rated XXX): “You go down there looking for justice, that’s what you find: Just us.” Pryor was referring to the racial composition of the players involved in the administration of justice. Times have changed substantially in that respect, but reading Ben Shapiro’s account of President Obama’s gun control »

CRB: A bully’s pulpit

Featured image In previewing the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here) yesterday we featured Bill Voegeli’s demolition of Michael Grunwald’s panegyric supporting the godawful stimulus bill of 2009, enacted right around the time that the recession was ending (according to the National Bureau of Economic Research). We continue our preview today with Hillsdale College Professor R.J. Pestritto’s review of Theodore Roosevelt and the American Political Tradition, by Bowdoin »

It ain’t necessarily so

Featured image John Podhoretz argues in the editor’s note of the new issue of Commentary that it’s time for conservatives to get serious about Obama, or begin taking him seriously on his own terms. John takes Obama to be a conventional liberal and chides conservatives for painting him as an extremist, an exaggeration which proves to be to Obama’s advantage. If Obama is a conventional liberal, however, liberalism has moved to the »

Liberalism is bunk

Featured image Henry Ford is reported to have said that “History is bunk.” Reviewing Paula Baker’s new book, Brad Smith reminds us of some history made by Ford: Ninety-five years ago Truman Newberry, a modest, well-mannered scion of an old-money Detroit family, suddenly found himself under federal indictment and his very name synonymous with political corruption. Newberry’s “crime”? He had run for the United States Senate as a long-shot underdog against the »

Is Liberalism Doomed?

Featured image Liberals are feeling triumphant these days, but in the backs of their minds there must be a sense of foreboding. They won this year by demonizing Republicans and by bribing various demographic groups with government largesse. But the Left’s tactical victory can’t conceal the fact that its ideology is bankrupt. The left’s real enemy isn’t Republicans, it is arithmetic. Welfare states are collapsing all around the world. Ours is on »

Quotable quotes from Harvey Mansfield

Featured image Harvey Manssfield is the great teacher of government and long-time member of the Harvard faculty. Among his books are Manliness and an indispensable edition of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. The Wall Street Journal Weekend interview profiles Professor Mansfield. At age 80, he can look back on an incredibly distinguished career, but he’s still going strong. The quotable Professor Mansfield offers this: “We have now an American political party and a »