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  • Archive for the 'Political Philosophy' Category

    Faustian Ambition (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on 21st August 2016 (All posts by )

    A post on ambition at another blog (in 2010) , which included a range of quotations on the subject, inspired me to think that I might be able to write an interesting essay on the topic of ambition in Goethe’s Faust. This post is a stab at such an essay.

    The word “Faustian” is frequently used in books, articles, blog posts, etc on all sorts of topics. I think the image that most people have of Faust is of a man who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for dangerous knowledge: sort of a mad-scientist type. This may be true of earlier versions of the Faust legend, but I think it’s a misreading (or more likely a non-reading) of Goethe’s definitive version.

    Faust, at the time when the devil first appears to him, has devoted his entire life to the pursuit of knowledge–in many different scholarly disciplines–and is totally frustrated and in despair about the whole thing. It is precisely the desire to do something other than to pursue abstract knowledge that leads him to engage in his fateful bargain with Mephistopheles.

    If it’s not the pursuit of abstract knowledge, then what ambition drives Faust to sell his soul? C S Lewis suggests that his motivations are entirely practical: he wants “gold and guns and girls.” This is partly true, but is by no means the whole story.

    Certainly, Faust does like girls. Very early in the play, he encounters a young woman who strikes his fancy:

    FAUST: My fair young lady, may I make free
    To offer you my arm and company?
    GRETCHEN: I’m neither fair nor lady, pray
    Can unescorted find my way
    FAUST: God, what a lovely child! I swear
    I’ve never seen the like of her
    She is so dutiful and pure
    Yet not without a pert allure
    Her rosy lip, her cheek aglow
    I never shall forget, I know
    Her glance’s timid downward dart
    Is graven deeply in my heart!
    But how she was so short with me–
    That was consummate ecstasy!


    Immediately following this meeting, Faust demands Mephisto’s magical assistance in the seduction of Gretchen. It’s noteworthy that he insists on this help despite the facts that (a)he brags to the devil that he is perfectly capable of seducing a girl like Gretchen on his own, without any diabolical assistance, and (b)a big part of Gretchen’s appeal is clearly that she seems so difficult to win–a difficulty that will be short-circuited by Mephisto’s help.

    Mephisto, of course, complies with Faust’s demand…this devil honors his contracts…and Faust’s seduction of Gretchen leads directly to the deaths of her mother, her child by Faust, her brother, and to Gretchen’s own execution.

    Diabolical magic also allows Faust to meet Helen of Troy (time and space are quite fluid in this play) whom he marries and impregnates, resulting in the birth of their child Euphorion.

    So, per Lewis, yes, Faust is definitely motivated by the pursuit of women. But this is only a small part of the complex structure of ambition that Goethe has given his protagonist.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Boyd/Osinga Roundtable, Deep Thoughts, Germany, Philosophy, Poetry, Political Philosophy | 6 Comments »

    “A new governing aristocracy made public deception acceptable”

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th August 2016 (All posts by )

    Thoughts on the nexus between the growth of government and of an elite governing class, and the rise of flagrant, unaccountable, public lying by politicians and other officials who are members of that class:

    …This statistical fact is, however, also a good example how radically this new American “aristocracy” has changed America in recent decades. Even President Obama in his first election campaign, only eight years ago, still categorically rejected the label of being a “socialist” for fear of becoming unelectable. Only eight years later, Bernie Sanders, a declared Socialist would, likely, have become the elected Democratic presidential candidate, had the party leadership not undemocratically conspired against his election.
     
    [. . .]
     
    Many, maybe even most presidents before Clinton, of course, also have on occasion been less than truthful; but nobody, except of course Nixon (“I am not a crook”), has in recent history so blatantly lied to the American people as Bill Clinton and, yet, gotten away with it, in the process changing American politics for ever by demonstrating that the modern multimedia world practically always offers the opportunity to relativize the truth of the message (to quote Bill Clinton, “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.”).
     
    The political “aristocracy” learned this lesson very quickly and, of course, nobody better than Hillary Clinton. She would never have dared to follow through with the absolute insane idea of establishing her own Internet server while serving as Secretary of State, had she not been convinced that she could manipulate the truth, should it be discovered. Piercing her words, as her husband had done so well during the Lewinsky Affair, she, indeed, has successfully avoided indictment by the Justice Department, even though a majority of Americans, likely, believe that she escaped because of special considerations by Obama’s Justice Department. Completely exposed in her deception by the FBI investigation, she, remarkably, still continues to lie in her statements to the public.

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Media, Obama, Political Philosophy, Politics, Society, USA | 21 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: My Personal Brexit: Courthouse Security Checks

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th August 2016 (All posts by )

    The story is now an old one.
     
    In Western societies, there is now a tremendous disconnect between the traditional political and business elites and the citizenry. The populations of the West now find themselves ruled by a transnational elite who see tradition, loyalty, and patriotism as primitive, and whose promoters within academia, nonprofits, government bodies, labour unions, NGOs, and the media teach that nations, citizenship, borders, and law defined by elected parliaments are irksome problems to be overcome.
     
    I cannot say exactly when I saw these symptoms first arise in the United States. But more than a decade ago, I was clerking in a federal courthouse. It was a good gig. I was glad to have it. The public—litigants, lawyers, jurors, witnesses,** and visitors—went through the front entrance with a security check. Court officials and employees (including judicial law clerks) went through a back entrance, also, with a security check. One day, early in my tenure, I was going through the security check, and an older man went around me and bypassed screening. The security officer waved him through. After I went through security, I asked the security officer:

    Read the whole thing.

    Posted in Current Events, Deep Thoughts, Law, Personal Narrative, Political Philosophy | 2 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: The Libertarian/Popperian Case for Brexit: A Response to Professors Somin, Levy, Norberg et al.

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th July 2016 (All posts by )

    The so-called libertarian case against Brexit works like this. Nations do bad things. E.g., tariffs. And the European Union (“EU”) blocks some (perhaps many of) those bad things. Indeed, the EU has set up a tariff-free free trade zone. That’s a good thing. Therefore EU-good & Brexit-bad. This position is not entirely wrong, but it is only half the story.
     
    First, the EU (and EFTA) free trade zone extends to EU (and EFTA) member states and their dependencies, and also to a few nearby non-member political entities (e.g., San Marino, Andorra, etc). This tariff-free free trade zone does not extend to the world. So when foreign goods are imported into the “tariff-free free trade zone” across the EU’s external borders, EU law mandates a “Common Customs Tariff”. In other words, hand-in-hand with the absence of tariffs among member states is an EU-imposed tariff against non-members’ exports. Whether this situation is a net gain for the people of Europe is a complex empirical question. That question is not answered merely by parroting the EU’s line: we promote tariff-free free trade. No, that question is not so easily answered because although the EU promotes some free trade, it positively discriminates against non-members’ exports.

    Read the rest.

    This is a long and well reasoned post that is worth reading in full. The gist of Seth’s argument is that the political phenomena lumped together as “Brexit” should be evaluated empirically rather than according to someone’s interpretation of libertarian doctrine; there are good reasons for supporters of freedom and open societies to favor Britain’s exit from the EU.

    UPDATE: Ilya Somin responds. The reader is invited to evaluate Somin’s full response for himself, but I was struck by this line: “Tillman’s discussion of immigration is notable for its implicit assumption that we can assess immigration policy while completely ignoring the freedom and interests of potential immigrants themselves.” Has there ever been a country that framed its immigration policy in any terms other than its own self-interest?

    Posted in Britain, Current Events, Europe, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 3 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 6th July 2016 (All posts by )

    Dale Franks, Vote Properly, You Virulent Racist!:

    But let’s go even further. Even if you could prove that, on balance, free trade is an unquestionable economic benefit, people might still prefer to be measurably poorer if that’s the price that must be paid to maintain their traditional social and political cultures. (This has even more relevance in the case of the EU, because the EU actually has power. Imagine if NAFTA had an unelected Commission in Ottowa or Mexico City that could impose laws on the United States.) Perhaps people don’t regard their economic interests as important as their national or cultural interests. It doesn’t matter what elite opinion thinks the people’s most important interests are. In a democratic society, ultimately, it only matters what the people think they are. People get to determine their own priorities, and not have them dictated by elites. The people get to answer for themselves the question, “In what kind of country do I want to live?”
     
    Of course, I would argue that we don’t have truly free trade or, increasingly, a free economy in the United States. The Progressives always look at the rising income inequality and maintain that it’s the inevitable result of capitalism. That’s hogwash, of course, and Proggies believe it because they’re dolts. But the problem in this country isn’t free trade—we have precious little of it—or unrestricted capitalism, since we have precious little of that as well. The issue behind rising income inequality isn’t capitalism, it’s cronyism. Income isn’t being redirected to the 1% because capitalism has failed, it’s happening because we abandoned capitalism in favor of the regulatory crony state and its de facto collusion between big business/banking interests and a government that directs capital to favored political clients, who become “too big to fail”. It doesn’t matter, for instance, whether the president is a Democrat or Republican, because we know the Treasury Secretary will be a former—and future—Goldman Sachs executive.

    Franks’s post is very well thought through and ties together the main themes that appear to be driving US, British and European politics. It’s worth reading in full if you haven’t yet done so.

    Posted in America 3.0, Capitalism, Civil Society, Conservatism, Crony Capitalism, Culture, Current Events, Economics & Finance, Elections, Human Behavior, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Society, Tea Party, Tradeoffs, Trump | 9 Comments »

    FBI Kills Rule of Law — Refuses to Indict Hillary Over Her E-mails

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 5th July 2016 (All posts by )

    FBI Director James Comey today in a Washington DC news conference confirmed what many have suspected.

    The Rule of Law in America is now strictly a political football for those who are in power.

    The FBI has refused to indict ex-Sec of State Hillary Clinton for multiple clear violations of Federal law by hosting an unsecured e-mail server with classified data off-site from the State Department.  A server that was know to have been hacked by most of America’s foreign enemies.

    Gatewaypundit has many of the details here —

    FBI Director Comey: We Found Hillary “Work Related” Emails That Were Not Turned Over to FBI – But Recommend NO CHARGES FIled

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Big Government, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, Law, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Miscellaneous, Political Philosophy, Politics | 26 Comments »

    Seth Barrett Tillman: Reflections on the Revolution in the UK: Parts 3 and 4

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st July 2016 (All posts by )

    Part 3: Farage’s Poster Is Racist:

    Farage was called a racist (and worse [1 minute mark]) for this poster.
     
    Yet, no one claims this photograph was a fake, i.e., a staged photograph made with actors and props. No one claims that it was photoshopped. No one claims that the skin tone of the people in the photograph was altered or, even, darkened. No one claims that the photograph was out of date. And no one claims that the picture is not representative of the pattern of large scale immigration coming into the European Union (here, Slovenia—an EU member state) from the Third World.
     
    In other words, if you reproduce a photograph of an actual, recent event, you are a racist…

    and

    Part 4: Errors of the Labour Party and the Remain Camp:

    A fictionalized exchange on television between any Labour candidate for MP and an audience member during the 2015 general election …
     

    [. . .]
     
    Labour Candidate for Parliament: I understand. New immigrants—frequently coming without skills that fit the modern U.K. economy—cause wage compression at the low end of the wage scale. We will make sure employers pay the minimum wage; we will ensure that your economic interests are protected.
     
    Audience Member: No, that’s not my point (at least, that’s not my only point). I don’t like how our society is being changed by mass immigration. I don’t like polygamy. It is illegal, but no one gets prosecuted for it. I don’t like FGM. It too is illegal, but it is not actively prosecuted. I don’t like it when the immigrants’ customs are accommodated in these ways—I don’t want our criminal laws ignored by the immigrants or by the police and the prosecutors. It makes me feel unsafe—it makes me think the immigrants’ way of life is preferred over ours. The immigrants should be integrated into our communities, not the other way around.
     
    Labour Candidate for Parliament: I understand. We will work to ensure that your wages are not compressed.
     
    Audience Member: You’re not listening. That’s not what I said: I don’t like the direction your party’s immigration policies under Blair & Brown have taken our country. I don’t like where we are now as a result—not that Cameron has done anything to modify those policies.
     
    [. . .]

    Read the whole series.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Big Government, Britain, Civil Society, Conservatism, Current Events, Elections, Europe, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 1 Comment »

    Quote of the Day (Brexit Edition)

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th June 2016 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez:

    It should be obvious to the status quo that the crisis has arrived. Brexit, for all its drama, was a warning. The real collision is close ahead.
     
    The basic demand is for a moderation, if not a reversal of the centralizing tendencies. It’s a brief for less immigration, less political correctness and less government.
     
    Unfortunately conceding to these demands this is like reversing the Titanic. There’s so much momentum, it’s hard to stop. But they have to stop. The Iceberg looms ahead. All Brexit has done is give the warning.
     
    From now on, the countdown begins. Can the elites turn the ship in time?

    Posted in America 3.0, Anglosphere, Big Government, Britain, Civil Liberties, Conservatism, Elections, Europe, International Affairs, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tea Party, Trump | 8 Comments »

    “Seth Barrett Tillman Spanks the Irish Left”

    Posted by Jonathan on 17th June 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth advances against enemy fire as we have come to expect:

    NRC’s own Seth Barrett Tillman recently appeared on Ireland’s RTÉ Radio One Late Debate. [The Irish media apparently plays by the same rules of engagement as CNN and the rest of the American media–4 out of the 6 participants were left-to-far left.]
     
    But Seth pretty much won the “debate” at the outset [it was pretty much a Donald Trump ‘racism’ bash] by pointing out that in 2004, Ireland herself voted 80-20 for their constitutional Amendment Twenty-Seven, which abolished “birthright citizenship.”

    More at the link.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Elections, Europe, Ireland, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 2 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 13th June 2016 (All posts by )

    Obama isn’t much of a defender of the United States in word or deed. He prefers to stand up for the good name of Islam. When it comes to the defense of Islam, he’s got his heart is in it.

    -Scott Johnson: “Obama’s Heart”, at Power Line

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Current Events, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, Obama, Political Philosophy, Quotations, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 26 Comments »

    No, They Don’t Really Believe in ‘Equality’

    Posted by David Foster on 11th June 2016 (All posts by )

    There was a bit of media coverage of Hillary Clinton choosing to wear a $12K Armani jacket while delivering a speech lamenting Inequality.  The price of this jacket, of course, represents an utterly trivial proportion of the wealth the Clintons have amassed from their lifetimes of Public Service.

    This little incident serves to emphasize a point I made several years ago in my post Jousting With a Phantom:  leading ‘progressives’ for the most part don’t really believe in anything resembling equality–indeed, quite the contrary.

    Consider, for example: Many people in “progressive” leadership positions are graduates of the Harvard Law School. Do you think these people want to see a society in which the career, status, and income prospects for an HLS grad are no better than those for a graduate of a lesser-known, lower-status (but still very good) law school? C’mon.

    Quite a few “progressive” leaders are members of prominent families. Do you think Teddy Kennedy would have liked to see an environment in which he and certain other members of his family would have had to answer for their actions in the criminal courts in the same way that ordinary individuals would, without benefit from connections, media influence, and expensive lawyers?

    The prevalence of “progressivism” among tenured professors is quite high. How many of these professors would be eager to agree to employment conditions in which their job security and employee benefits were no better than those enjoyed by average Americans? How many of them would take a salary cut in order to provide higher incomes for the poorly-paid adjunct professors at their universities? How many would like to see PhD requirements eliminated so that a wider pool of talented and knowledgeable individuals can participate in university teaching?

    There are a lot of “progressives” among the graduates of Ivy League universities. How many of them would be in favor of legally eliminating alumni preferences and the influence of “contributions” and have their children considered for admission–or not–on the same basis as everyone else’s kids? Yet an alumni preference is an intergenerational asset in the same way that a small businessman’s store or factory is such an asset.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Education, Leftism, Political Philosophy, USA | 11 Comments »

    The Administrative State to Citizens: You Have No Rights

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 1st June 2016 (All posts by )

    The Pacific Legal Foundation, who last year at the Supreme Court won the right of citizens to challenge EPA rulings, has now won the right of citizens to challenge the determinations of the US Army Corps of Engineers.

    It is not enough that agencies pass rulings and regulations that amount to law without their ever going through Congress or being voted on. Increasingly, the Administrative State takes the approach that you will do whatever they say without recourse, under penalty of egregious fines or imprisonment. Your tax dollars at work.

    PLF is donation supported.

     

    Posted in Big Government, Law, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Politics | 14 Comments »

    Bill Whittle is Brilliant

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 27th May 2016 (All posts by )

    If the GOP leadership have ten brain cells between them, Reince Priebus would be back in private practice and Bill Whittle would be chairperson of their party. But back in the real world, that might cut into the graft coming from Alphabet Street lobbyists. And that’s really why they’re there.

    His insights on the importance of gaining a persuasive voice in the pop culture and reimaging and repackaging the classically liberal, libertarian message are incredibly important.

    Posted in Advertising, Libertarianism, Political Philosophy, Video | 8 Comments »

    “THE 30-SECOND GUIDE TO GOVERNMENT SPENDING”

    Posted by Jonathan on 9th May 2016 (All posts by )


    View post on imgur.com

    (Via Dan Mitchell: Milton Friedman, Adam Smith, and Other People’s Money – well worth reading.)

    Posted in Big Government, Economics & Finance, Political Philosophy, Public Finance | 3 Comments »

    ‘People Are Stupid’, And What Follows From That

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th May 2016 (All posts by )

    From The Men Who Would Be King

    For all his persuasiveness, incompetence is Satan’s principle problem. The devil always sets out to construct heaven and winds up with hell because he uses the wrong principles. ~Richard Fernandez

    I’m reminded by that statement of something a former Soviet general wrote after the fall of the USSR, that the difference in societies produced by the Bolshevik Revolution and the American Revolution came down to founders and their guiding principles, You had Madison and Jefferson and The Enlightenment, we had Lenin who led us into communism.

    I remember a conversation I had with two young leftists where I work. One, a young girl with a physics degree, the other a young man with a BSEE. They were Obama supporters and Progressives. I tried to engage them in the idea of First Principles, in the cause and effect and unintended consequences of political and economic policies and approaches. Neither knew what I was talking about. They were simply convinced that a smart guy needed to be in power to do whatever needed to be done. ‘People are stupid! They need to be told what to do.’ I think they would have been committed Bolsheviks in another place and time. In reality, both were the idiots they were sneering at, they just didn’t realize it. Possibly they were projecting their own lack of understanding of the world onto everyone. They had no understanding of the disastrous effects Progressive policies have had on the black population, on race relations, on the economy, on their own lives and opportunities and job prospects. They just wanted someone ‘smart’ in charge to fix it. They set out to build heaven and will be forever confused by the hell that results.

    Ben Rhodes and Jonathan Gruber both lied to sell Progressive policies that could not be sold on their merits. That’s why they lied. But like the young Progressives above, both believe people are stupid and need to be told what to do by someone a lot smarter, like them. The lying is incidental. It’s ego confirmation to them that the peasants are so dim they actually believed them. No wonder Obama spends his whole life with a smirk on his face.

    Posted in Human Behavior, Leftism, Obama, Political Philosophy | 7 Comments »

    How Much Power Does the President Have?

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 19th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Can the president decree that a US law be ignored or even reversed if it advances his party’s political agenda? If so, is that not legislating from the Oval Office?

    The US Constitution, Article I, Section I:  All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

    If the president can grant deportation relief to 5 million immigrants here illegally – for whatever reason – what law cannot be reversed? What law has any meaning?

    Supreme Court justices seem divided on Obama immigration actions

    And what does it say about the current ideological makeup of the court that half the justices think this is a valid and legal course of action for a president? And assuming that Hillary is our next president and will appoint at least one far left justice, what is the likelihood the Constitution means anything at all anymore? Are we moving into the endgame, the first tentative steps of dictatorship, fully blessed and sanctified by the US Supreme Court?

    Posted in Immigration, Law, Political Philosophy | 15 Comments »

    “Part II, Louise Arbour’s Millions”

    Posted by Jonathan on 11th April 2016 (All posts by )

    From Seth Barrett Tillman’s update on an earlier post that was linked here:

    “Louise Arbour had one response to Farage and Steyn that, I think, was missed by the audience and by F & S. Arbour said:”

    Read the rest of Seth’s new post here.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Europe, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tradeoffs | 2 Comments »

    Obama and US Cultural Confidence

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th April 2016 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez:

    President Obama got it exactly wrong when he argued in a Washington Post op-ed that “as the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons, the United States has a moral obligation to continue to lead the way in eliminating them.” What he should have written instead was “as the only nation ever to refrain from using nuclear weapons gratuitously when it had the monopoly on such weapons, the United States has the moral authority to lead the way in regulating them.”
     
    What gives the US moral authority is bias, the improbability of it using nuclear weapons in time of peace. You can be sure the USAF won’t nuke Chicago, or Brussels or Kampala tomorrow, even if it physically could, because of civilizational bias. The reason why Obama’s unilateral reductions in the American nuclear arsenal as gestures to nuclear disarmament are meaningless is because he’s not actually reducing any of the risk. All the danger is on the other side, where the bias goes the other way for aggression, conquest and world domination. That is what he seems unable to reduce.
     
    [. . .]
     
    The reason why statements like “Islam is the religion of peace” or “we will never be at war with Islam” are so dangerous is because they ignore bias and reduce the problem to the mere monitoring of things. They put the most important factor of all into the error term. The result is a world of runaway entropy that is more dangerous to everybody, especially to Muslims.
     
    [. . .]
     
    These Kurdish peasants instinctively remember what the West has forgotten, that man lives not just in a world of things but of angels and demons. Cultures and belief are not optional extras but the bedrock of survival. They know instinctively that for man to survive he must fight Evil which is real with the aid of the Old Ones, who are also real. Only thus can he change his biases; only thus can he get the better of entropy.

    President Obama is the anti-confident American. He seems to believe that his country should be taken down a notch or two, should apologize for past wrongs, should stop seeing itself in terms of confident exceptionalism. How’s that working out? Fernandez’s points aren’t new but bear repeating. Belief in cultural and moral equivalence is effectively suicidal. Our elites are too corrupt and incompetent to understand that this is the case or to know what to do about it.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Anti-Americanism, Current Events, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Political Philosophy, War and Peace | 18 Comments »

    “Trump Voters and Modern American Legal Academia”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    A biting critique of recent public arguments by liberal academics, by Seth Barrett Tillman:

    There is a final possibility. Apparently, some non-originalists believe they are part of a victimized, long-suffering, powerless, discrete, insular intellectual minority. As Professor Jack Balkin, a prominent commentator (but not one of the Alliance-for-Justice-350), wrote:

    Accepting that opposition as the proper frame for debate just locks liberals into a clever rhetorical strategy created by movement conservatives in the 1980s, who wanted to put themselves on the side of the American constitutional tradition, and liberals on the outside looking in. [here] [here] (emphasis added)
     
    and,
     
    The notion that in order for liberals to believe in a living Constitution they have to reject originalism in all of its forms is the biggest canard ever foisted on them. [here] [here] (emphasis added)[3]

    In this intellectual milieu, signing a letter you do not really believe is not hypocrisy: it is virtue. Thus, signing such a letter is the natural and justified response of victims to an unfair world imposed upon them by malevolent intellectual forces which have deformed reasoned, public debate. That’s not hypocrisy: that’s something else entirely. I am going to refrain from characterizing that reason, but I expect the public will take the hint.
     
    Is it any wonder that millions of Americans vote for Trump?

    Worth reading in its entirety.

    Posted in Academia, Elections, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Trump | 2 Comments »

    “Louise Arbour Welcomes You To Administrative Unit 34B”

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th April 2016 (All posts by )

    From Seth Barrett Tillman’s new post about western cultural confidence (and the lack thereof):

    Our administrative unit’s official motto is: Health, Fairness, Environment, Culture. So it should not surprise you that we chose you among other applicants seeking to immigrate to our (now your) prefecture because you have (as far as we can discover) no strongly held views, on anything. We believe that (former) outsiders like you from distant regions add to our ever-growing cultural diversity, but we seek to do so in a way that guarantees our social cohesion.
     
    In the event that you violate a minor domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 1 and its annex) and you are under 18, you will be assigned community service and ordered to apologize to any victims of your wrongdoing (should they remain alive). If you violate a major domestic regulation (i.e., under Schedule 2 and its annex) and you are over 18, you will be sent down for correction, but we cannot send you back to your former prefecture, as it is in political disarray and your human rights may be threatened by your return there. Your statutory right to residence vests after 60 days; your statutory right to vote in municipal elections vests after 6 months; your statutory right to vote in prefecture-wide elections and for an inter-prefecture delegate vests after 1 year…

    Highly recommended.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, Europe, Immigration, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Tradeoffs | 2 Comments »

    The New Bolsheviks

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 3rd April 2016 (All posts by )

    Progressive Totalitarianism

    In his book The Snapping of the American Mind, David Kupelian asks the following painful question that millions of Americans like myself have pondered for years and will ponder for some time to come as America slowly rips itself apart. Kupelian writes, “How could it be that hundreds of thousands of Americans fought and bled – and many died – on foreign shores to contain an evil and metastasizing ideology variously called communism, Marxism, socialism, collectivism, or statism, and yet now, just a few years later, we would gaze up at the pinnacle of power in our own country and behold leaders in thrall to essentially the same core ideology we fought and died to protect strangers from?”
     
    The answer to this is can be found within the culture itself and more specifically within America’s youth who have seemingly embraced the concept of socialism with little to no understanding of what socialism even is. Yet, like frogs slowly boiling to death in the cesspools that have become our college campuses, our nation’s youth collectively embrace the ideology that will destroy them while demanding that they be “protected” from opinions that run contrary to their beliefs.

    I have this issue with one of my daughters. She’s very sweet and very hard working, but like everyone who has lived she has struggled at times and dealt with situations that seemed completely unfair. She wonders why Bernie’s ideas won’t work. Why shouldn’t lots more thing be free for everyone? Why can’t that work? She received little or no history education in school, and obviously no economics. Of course, there are reasons for that. And what history they do hear is more likely to be Howard Zinn than Steven Ambrose. Without understanding the history of these movements, you cannot understand where all this leads. And they don’t recognize the road on which they are treading.

    Posted in Book Notes, Culture, Education, Leftism, Political Philosophy, Society | 13 Comments »

    “The Two Discourses: How Non-Originalists Popularize Originalism and What that Means”

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th March 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman:

    Non-originalists communicate in two different discourses.
     
    One discourse is the mode of truth: it is the mode they reserve for their sophisticated clients and legal briefs, for their colleagues and students. In this discourse, non-originalists critique originalism as …

    1. Wrongheaded or false because the Constitution is not prolix, it is only an outline, and the gaps must be filled in by each generation;
    2. Wrongheaded because the Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent is not discoverable;
    3. Wrongheaded because different Framers’ and Ratifiers’ intent, although discoverable, was not unified;
    4. Wrongheaded because original public meaning is not (now) discoverable (e.g., the Constitution is too old);
    5. Wrongheaded because during the framing era and during ratification there were a multiplicity of original public meanings;
    6. Wrongheaded because judicial rulings and precedent are the superior means through which to determine the meaning of the Constitution;
    7. Wrongheaded because judges, academic lawyers, and lawyers are not good historians;
    8. Wrongheaded because the Framing-era and ratification lacked democratic bona fidés by modern standards;
    9. Wrongheaded because we should not be ruled by the moral norms or the dead hand of the past; and,
    10. Wrongheaded because originalism gets the wrong (e.g., conservative or libertarian) results.

    The problem is that non-originalists have an entirely different discourse, a second discourse, when they communicate with the public. When non-originalists communicate with the public … non-originalists transform themselves and their discourse into naked, unabashed originalism. It is really quite astounding.

    Lexington Green adds:

    You are restrained in your condemnation of this despicable dishonesty.

    The public has very little understanding of law, the Constitution, the legal system, lawyers, courts or anything else that people like us think about all day long.

    There is nonetheless a vague, inchoate sense that there something called a constitution, and it is in writing, and most people who think they know anything about it mistakenly believe that it says that all men are created equal, and that it protects our rights, whatever those happen to be, and that the government has to do what The Constitution says.

    If you were to tell these people, well, actually, we law professors and judges and lawyers have figured out that you don’t actually have to do what the Constitution says, because … it won’t matter what the “because” is. The typical American will respond with something along the lines of “are you fucking kidding me?”

    My seat of the pants guess is that between between 1% and 5% of the people in this country have any idea what has been going on with the U.S. Constitution in the courts in the last 50 years.

    These guys are being smart not publicizing the reality. If Joe and Jane American voter knew what was going on they would cut the funding for these people.

    Read the whole thing.

    (See also this post by Lex from 2008.)

    Posted in Academia, Civil Liberties, Law, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 20 Comments »

    The Peaceful Majority are Irrelevent

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 22nd March 2016 (All posts by )

    Video Published on Jul 18, 2014

    I just picked up a link to this today and thought it was impressive. A muslim girl showed up at a Heritage Foundation discussion on the Benghazi attack to put on a ‘Poor me! What about us moderate muslims?’ act.  Not to condemn what jihadis had done, not to pledge her support to fight against them, not to say how she is organizing peaceful muslims to combat terrorism in the United States. No, of course not. She owes the West and the United States nothing, least of all defense. She showed up to play the victim card, or was possibly sent there as part of a strategy to use political correctness as a weapon to encourage Western weakness in the face of violent islam. Either way, Brigitte Gabriel was having none of it. She gave her a piece of her mind and made some excellent points along the way. If more people were this clear headed we’d have a lot fewer problems in the world.

    Posted in Political Philosophy, Terrorism, Video | 26 Comments »

    “re: Seth Barrett Tillman responding to President Adam Falk, Williams College: the Allure of Forbidden Fruit”

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2016 (All posts by )

    Seth Barrett Tillman responds to the president of Williams College:

    Dear President Falk,
     
    I read your February 18, 2016 letter to the Williams Community. I do not understand it. You don’t quote, link to, point to, or even summarize anything Derbyshire said or wrote. So the reader has no way to understand precisely what he said or wrote that crossed any “line” or even, when he said or wrote you allege constitutes hate speech. How is the reader supposed to understand your letter?

    Read the whole thing.

    Jonathan adds:

    1) President Falk’s statement that “Free speech is a value I hold in extremely high regard” sounds a lot like “Your call is very important to us”.

    2) Hate speech is speech. The reason why no one who expresses concern about “hate speech” ever mentions such a thing as “love speech” is that it’s obvious that speech that no one objects to requires no protection. The term “hate speech” is verbal camouflage used to obfuscate anti-free-speech arguments.

    Posted in Academia, Civil Society, Culture, Current Events, Leftism, Political Philosophy | 8 Comments »

    Ted Cruz’s Platform

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 7th February 2016 (All posts by )

     

    Ted Cruz

    Ted Cruz, more than any other candidate, really seems intent on reducing the size of government in Washington  and the scope of its power in our lives. Ted is a deeply religious man, and normally I’m uncomfortable with candidates who wear their religious beliefs on their chest. However, the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that’s a very tiny flaw to overlook.

    Most impressive to me is his Five for Freedom plan. This from the first section:

    Abolish the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A Cruz Administration will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose sole charge will be to wind them down and determine whether any programs need to be preserved.

    1. Internal Revenue Services – end the political targeting, simplify the tax code, and abolish the IRS as we know it.
    2. Department of Education – return education to those who know our students best: parents, teachers, local communities, and states. And block-grant education funding to the states.
    3. Department of Energy – cut off the Washington Cartel, stop picking winners and losers, and unleash the energy renaissance.
    4. Department of Commerce – close the “congressional cookie jar” and promote free-enterprise and free trade for every business.
    5. Department of Housing and Urban Development – offer real solutions to lift people out of hardship, rather than trapping families in a cycle of poverty, and empower Americans by promoting the dignity of work and reforming programs such as Section 8 housing.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Elections, Political Philosophy | 25 Comments »