Rousseau, A Golden Past, & the Academic as Luddite

This was a comment that got out of hand. It is not a great point, but I do think that some of the academic response to – well, everything – is at once more complicated and simpler than sometimes posited here.

Sure, academia is turf building – and this really didn’t happen until faculty moved from teaching 3-5 classes at all levels to only teaching upper level and teaching 1-2 a semester. (And we probably don’t want to get into “Studies” and “Centers”.) You don’t have time to build turf with the old loads. We certainly don’t at our jr college, where everyone but administrators teach 5, all teach mostly freshmen, and even departmental administrators (to departments of 100 in schools of 13,000 students) teach a class or two and have no secretaries. (I will say that we are an unusually hard-working or, perhaps, an unusually hard-worked campus, but we appreciate one another. We have to – nor do we give “walks”: if we are in the hospital, someone covers.)

Research university faculty sometimes loses its ability to communicate with generalists, let alone freshmen. Intense publish or perish standards sometimes led to superficiality and new theories for the sake of “newness.”

I would argue, though, that Schumpeter’s theory, as I understand it, does have remarkable relevance. So does modern criticism’s alienation from the Scottish common sense guys and alignment with Rousseau: they are Luddites who fear change. The word progressive to describe such thinkers is preposterous.

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You never know who is going to show up at the phone bank

George Lutas and the Attorney General for the state of Indiana

A snapshot taken today at the local phone bank in St. John, Indiana. The handsome fellow up front? My son. The guy in the back working hard? Greg Zoeller, the Indiana Attorney General. He came in, sat down, and started calling, a very down to earth fellow and a real mensch. Who knows who’s going to show up tomorrow?

Request for Some Skilz

Every one is familiar with this image:

Circulating recently has been this variant:

This has been implicitly about the election, but the imagery is from some online game. Still, I like it. I was thinking it could be re-done with the motif of our trusty friend the Gadsden Flag.

My request: An image that (1) has the same typeface as the original keep-calm-and-carry-on, with black lettering, saying KEEP CALM AND FINISH HIM (2) put a Gadsden yellow background on it, (3) Put the Gadsden-snake-and-leaves on top where the crown is.

This would be a nice thing to circulate in the final days before the election.

Please contact me at Lexington.chicagoboyz AT if you are able to put something together along these lines. All credit will go the creator.


So a few days to go until Election Day; I guess we can call this the final heat. Texas is pretty much a red state stronghold, although there are pockets of blue adherents throughout. Yes, even in my neighborhood, there are a handful of defiant Obama-Biden yard signs visible, although outnumbered at least three to one by Romney-Ryan signs. It amounts to about three or four dozen, all told; I think that most of my neighbors prefer keeping their political preferences this time around strictly to themselves.

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re: What They Teach the Children in Schools Today

The wife and I moved to Ireland a year or so ago.
I found academic work here. So we moved.

Today, the wife is walking the children home from school.
They pass by a lamppost dated “1911.” Douglas, who is 9,
asks “who was king then?”

“Edward VII”, she replies. Douglas thinks for a moment and says,
“George V was his son. And king during the First World toponlinelexapro
War.” “Excellent!” she cheers him on, and “Who were his sons?”
“Edward VIII and George VI.” “Fantastic!” she exclaims, “And
who is George VI father to?”

Douglas yells happily back …
“Our current Queen!!”

There you have it … I name him after an outstanding American …
and he grows up to be a Tory (while living in Ireland!).
Where did I go wrong?

Mr. Innisfree

Higher Education, Un(der)employment, and Dissatisfaction

Some thoughts from the great economist Joseph Schumpeter, writing in 1942:

The man who has gone through a college or university easily becomes psychically unemployable in manual occupations without necessarily acquiring employability in, say, professional work. His failure to do so may be due either to lack of natural ability—perfectly compatible with passing academic tests—or to inadequate teaching; and both cases will . . . occur more frequently as ever larger numbers are drafted into higher education and as the required amount of teaching increases irrespective of how many teachers and scholars nature chooses to turn out.

The results of neglecting this and of acting on the theory that schools, colleges and universities are just a matter of money, are too obvious to insist upon. Cases in which among a dozen applicants for a job, all formally qualified, there is not one who can fill it satisfactorily, are known to everyone who has anything to do with appointments . . .

All those who are unemployed or unsatisfactorily employed or unemployable drift into the vocations in which standards are least definite or in which aptitudes and acquirements of a different order count. They swell the host of intellectuals in the strict sense of the term whose numbers hence increase disproportionately. They enter it in a thoroughly discontented frame of mind. Discontent breeds resentment. And it often rationalizes itself into that social criticism which as we have seen before is in any case the intellectual spectator’s typical attitude toward men, classes and institutions especially in a rationalist and utilitarian civilization.

Well, here we have numbers; a well-defined group situation of proletarian hue; and a group interest shaping a group attitude that will much more realistically account for hostility to the capitalist order than could the theory—itself a rationalization in the psychological sense—according to which the intellectual’s righteous indignation about the wrongs of capitalism simply represents the logical inference from outrageous facts. . . . Moreover our theory also accounts for the fact that this hostility increases, instead of diminishing, with every achievement of capitalist evolution.

via the WSJ

Reminds me of Francis Bacon’s assertion…way back in the late 1500s!…that one cause of sedition and mutiny in any polity is “breeding more scholars than preferment can take off.”

See also Theodore Dalrymple


Tyrone Woods was one of the men murdered at the State Department facility in Benghazi, Libya. His father,Charles Woods, was spoken to at the memorial service (at Andrews Air Force Base) by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.

Charles Woods did not perceive very much remorse or genuine sympathy on the part of these politicians. While assessing someone’s genuine level of sympathy is of course a subjective matter, what is not subjective is the actual words that are spoken…and the following words, according to Mr Woods, were spoken by Hillary Clinton:

“we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.”

We know now, of course, that the Benghazi attack was a pre-planned terrorist operation that had little if anything to do with the video in question. All the evidence, furthermore, is that the Obama administration was aware or should have been aware of this fact at the time, and that their strident and repeated public assertions to the contrary were either reflections of incompetence and opinion-jumping, or were actual deliberate lies. But even if it had been true that the attacks were in response to fury over the video, this would not have justified Hillary’s above statement in any way. Tyron Woods and the others were not murdered by a filmmaker; they were murdered by violent radical Muslims.

What Hillary said is directly analogous to a WWII government official attempting to comfort the grieving father of a soldier killed in battle with Nazi forces by saying:

“we’re going to have Charlie Chaplin arrested and prosecuted for making that movie (The Great Dictator) that got the Nazis so upset with us”

Hillary’s remarks should be offensive not only to all Americans but also to all people everywhere who care about individual freedom.

And what is this about a Secretary of State and a President reaching down N levels into the bureaucracy and demanding that a probation violator be arrested because of his political “crimes”? This is something we would have expected in the Third Reich or in Stalin’s Russia, not in the United States of America.

This administration’s handling of the Benghazi affair makes very clear, as if it wasn’t clear enough already, just how little respect this administration has for the lives and liberties of citizens.

These people are truly morally deficient, in a major way.


–my post What Century is This?

–Don Sensing, a former Army artillery officer, on the Benghazi attack and Flash traffic

The Benghazi mess and its consequences

UPDATE: There is now a report that General Ham is stating that they had forces ready but were never ordered to go to the assistance of the besieged US officers in Benghazi

UPDATE #2- From Captain’s Journal, another blog, comes this:

First of all, recall that General Rodriguez is the one whom I called out almost five years ago for spewing the silly propaganda that the Taliban were too weakened to launch a spring offensive, and also the one who wanted to micromanage a Marine Air Ground Task Force in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. Less than six hours before Marines commenced a major helicopter-borne assault in the town of Marjah, Rodriguez’s headquarters issued an order requiring that his operations center clear any airstrike that was on a housing compound in the area but not sought in self-defense. This is rules of engagement of the flavor Rodriguez.

If General Rodriguez is in fact taking over the Africa command, I’m not impressed with Panetta’s decision. Then again, I think Panetta is a weasel and his excuse-making cowardly, so I’m not surprised by the decision.

I would advise anyone who is puzzled by the conflicting stories to read, Dakota Meyers book, “Into the Fire.”

General Ham appears to have broken with that story and is taking no responsibility for the decision not to bail out the consulate and the Navy SEALS. There have been rumors that General Ham has been fired or forced out. There is no way to confirm them at this point until they come from more reliable sources.

There are now strong indications he was fired. The deputy who “apprehended ” him is his successor. This suggests the path to command in Obama’s army.

More on General Ham. This might suggest why he was unwilling to leave the US contractors to their fate.

During his time in Iraq General Ham suffered Posttraumatic stress disorder, caused from attending the aftermath of a suicide bombing. He didn’t want another such scene on his conscience.

UPDATE #3-An explanation for the failure of more disclosure in the Benghazi scandal was presented today (10/29) in an article in the Washington Times.
Bloomberg News reported on October 17 that Attorney General Eric Holder “prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft.”

“There’s a problem with prosecutions that don’t distinguish between bad people — people who spy for other governments, people who sell secrets for money — and people who are accused of having conversations and discussions,” said Abbe Lowell, attorney for Stephen J. Kim, an intelligence analyst charged under the Act, to Bloomberg News.

The Espionage Act, bans unlawful disclosure of national security information to individuals not authorized to get it. The act was signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 and has been used to prosecute double agents like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen.

Bloomberg News cites the particular case of Stephen J. Kim, an intelligence analyst who was charged under the act. He worked as a contract analyst specializing in North Korea. Kim was questioned by law enforcement officials in September of 2009 after making contact with Fox News reporter Jim Rosen about North Korea’s nuclear weapon’s program. Eleven months later he was indicted by a grand jury for revealing classified information and making false statements

Obama is prosecuting intelligence people who leak to news organizations. Whistleblowers, in other words. Leftist outlets are already attacking Fox News as disclosing top secret information.

With all of this in mind, do not be surprised if a flood of individuals who have pertinent information begin to step up to the plate and talk about what happened on September 11, 2012 if Mitt Romney wins the presidency.

There is a growing body of information about what happened in Benghazi but it has not appeared in the major media thus far. The NY Times and Washington Post seem to be covering for Obama by completely ignoring this story. Most of those who follow current events on the internet rather than in big city newspapers or television “news” are aware of most of the details.

On September 11, 2012 the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked at approximately 9:40 PM local time by a large number of heavily armed terrorists. The US ambassador was present and had bid goodnight to the Turkish ambassador at about 8 PM local time. Washington DC is 6 hours west of Benghazi so the attack came at 3:40 PM Washington time.

Here is a timeline of the attack.

There was no demonstration in front of the consulate that night. In spite of this fact, quickly apparent to the State Department which was in contact with the personnel at the consulate and the CIA “annex” that night from the first shots fired, the Obama administration, including Hillary Clinton the Secretary of State, proposed a story about demonstrations in response to “an anti-Muslim video” that was in fact a You Tube video which was 14 minutes long. The creator of this video, an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in Los Angeles, was arrested on dubious grounds of a “probation violation” and the arrest was widely publicized by the administration. His initial court date is scheduled for AFTER the election.

On Sunday September 16, 5 days after the attack, UN Ambassador Susan Rice appeared on five Sunday news programs to repeat the administration’s story.

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Cover Songs – Ryan Adams on Bob Mould

I have been following the cover song debate here at Chicago Boyz with the mantra “if you are going to do a cover, make it your own.”

Here is Ryan Adams covering Bob Mould’s “Black Sheets of Rain” on Letterman. I always liked Bob Mould and of course Husker Du (just downloaded the new album and will be giving it a spin, sounds great) but I have to say that Ryan Adams improved upon Bob’s version of this great song.

I started the video about at the 2:25 mark… typical of Ryan Adams there is a self indulgent time when he wanders around getting ready to play. But hell, the guy is a genius, so what do I know.

[Jonathan adds: I wasn’t able to get the video to start at the right place. You will have to move the slider to the 2:25 mark to get it to start there.]

Winter is Coming

One sign of impending winter at my household is that the plants on the porch are packed up and put away, after their harvest of tomatoes, herbs and of course hot peppers.

See you next year…

Cross posted at LITGM

Presidential Forensics Done Romney-Style

After watching the 2012 Presidential Debates, I’ve come to the conclusion we are now seeing a new branch of “President Debate Forensics” being established that is utterly different in objective than traditional one concerned with scorning points. Instead, it is concerned with communicating the candidate’s PRESIDENTIAL demeanor through visual media.

That it has been successful in communicating that demeanor can be seen in this Michael Barone piece. Barone says the public’s break towards Romney is happening with affluent suburban voters and particularly college educated women.

It looks like my thought of Romney’s last debate performance being a “intimate performance for women” was spot-on, and his intended audience is responding –

That tends to validate my alternative scenario that Mitt Romney would fare much better in affluent suburbs than Republican nominees since 1992, running more like George Bush did in 1988. The only way Pennsylvania and Michigan can be close is if Obama’s support in affluent Philadelphia and Detroit suburbs has melted away.

This also helps explain why Romney still narrowly trails in Ohio polls. Affluent suburban counties cast about one-quarter of the votes in Pennsylvania and Michigan but only one-eighth in Ohio.

A pro-Romney affluent swing is confirmed by the internals of some national polls. The 2008 exit poll showed Obama narrowly carrying voters with incomes over $75,000. Post-debate Pew Research and Battleground polls have shown affluent suburbanite Romney carrying them by statistically significant margins.

In particular, college-educated women seem to have swung toward Romney since Oct. 3. He surely had them in mind in the foreign policy debate when he kept emphasizing his hopes for peace and pledged no more wars like Iraq and Afghanistan.

At this point, my gut says that the Romney campaign bet it all on the debates to get past the Pro-Obama media filters to voters and prepared accordingly.

Romney’s debate performances moved the focus groups so consistently. I have to think that his debate preparation firm was coaching him through his debate preparation with multiple primary and general election focus groups. Focus groups that were providing video performance feed back to Romney through out both the Republican Primary and General Election campaigns.

Romney just set a new and very high bar in American Presidential campaigning by founding a new “Presidential forensics” branch of debate. One that isn’t intended to “win” debates in the traditional debate forensics sense of “scoring points.”

“Presidential forensics” Romney-style is intended to showcase the candidate’s ability to project a PRESIDENTIAL demeanor to a visual media audience past media gatekeepers, whatever the debate format or moderator bias.

It worked. It will be copied.

Alamein, Tobruk and Alex

I wouldn’t have remembered that this week marks another WWII battle anniversary – that of El Alamein which ran for nearly two weeks in October and November 1942 – but for seeing a story or two in the Daily Mail about it. (A reflection upon the death spiral of the mainstream news is that I have a relatively low-brow popular British newspaper among my internet tool-bar favorites, rather than my own local metropolitan publication … alas, that is how low those local newspapers have fallen. Seriously, stuff shows up on the Daily Mail page days before it does in strictly American-oriented media. Sorry about that, San Antonio Express News.)
That second battle at El Alamein which broke the back of the Axis, revived Allied morale, and saw the beginning of the end of any attempt by the Germans to get control of the Suez Canal was a significant turn in that campaign in the deserts of North Africa. The fighting mostly involved British and Commonwealth and a scattering of Free Polish troops against the Germans and Italians; back and forth in Egypt and Libya almost as if it were a sea battle – fought not in water, but in sand. It’s a matter almost out of historical memory, especially for Americans who really only got involved at the tail end. Our memories of the desert war are mostly retained in movies like Casablanca, or a television series like The Rat Patrol.

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The last quarter is here.

Bob Krumm, a well known Democratic Party consultant has weighed in today with an analysis that looks like a post mortem on the election.

If you’re in the Obama campaign–or a numerologist sympathetic to it–you probably console yourself with comparisons to polling results from 2008. Today Barack Obama is running about three points behind where he was at this point in the race two years ago, while Mitt Romney is about four points ahead of John McCain. Since Barack Obama won by 7.3% in 2008, the seven-point swing this year still puts the race within reach.

However this is not 2008. That year was an anomaly in my lifetime: the first election since 1952 when there was neither an incumbent president nor a sitting vice president on the ballot. The 2008 election was a choice; this year is a referendum.

We have watched the trend lines and many of us were highly suspicious of the polls last summer.

The 2012 election returns to the historical norm where you have an incumbent and a challenger. The primary metric is the incumbent’s level of support. He is only safe when he is well above 50%. When his support dips below 50% he is in danger. If it stays below 48% he is in extreme danger. Barack Obama sits at 47% and hasn’t been higher than 48% since the first debate.

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The Era of the Thug in American Politics?

The son of a Wisconsin State Senator was beaten up when he objected to two men stealing a Romney sign in his yard.

One would like to believe that this is an exceptional case without larger significance. But then, I am afraid, one would be wrong.

Almost ten years ago, I wrote a post titled Be Afraid: The Rise of Political Violence and Intimidation in America. The post was inspired by a story about attacks on a pro-Israel group in Los Angeles:

“This may have been advertised as an anti-war rally,” said Suzanne Davidson, “but I could hear in the distance, as I looked at the hate-filled faces, military boots marching on broken glass.”

Davidson is a leader of a small group in LA that had been meeting regularly to show public support of Israel. Prior to the group’s usual rally on October 6, she learned that an “anti-war” group was planning a major demonstration in the same area. Should she cancel the pro-Israel demonstration? No, she decided…after all, what could be feared from a “peace” rally?

But from the very beginning, Davidson says, members of the “anti-war” demonstration behaved in a hostile and intimidating manner toward the smaller pro-Israel group, beginning with curses and a demand to “F___ off.” This escalated to the cry “You are Zionist Nazi pigs.” 1500 “anti-war” demonstrators marched past the 25 members of the pro-Israel group, some of them shouting “shame on you,” along with assorted name-calling. “I shudder to think what would have happened had the police not been there,” wrote Davidson.

As shameful as this event was, similar behavior–and much worse–has become increasingly common. At Concordia College (Toronto), Benhamin Netanyahu was prevented from speaking by a riot of Palestinian students and their supporters. Thomas Hecht, a Holocaust survivor, was pushed against a wall, spat on, and reportedly kicked in the groin. A woman said that during the same incident, attackers “aimed their punches at my breasts.” Two weeks later, at the same college, a Jewish student was beaten bloody by an Arab student.

Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewish leader, summed up the campus situation in these words: “This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.”

I cited other examples of political violence and intimidation in the post, and noted that while such behavior seemed to be most common on college campuses, it was not limited to those venues–in Colorado, for example, a car belonging to Rita Moreno (a leader of the initiative to scrap bilingual education) was torched. There was no proof that the fire-bombing was political…but Moreno says that there have been other forms of harassment against supporters of this initiative, including dumping of garbage in their yards and 3 AM phone calls.

Since that initial post, I’ve posted many stories about similar attempts at violent or near-violent political intimidation. Most of these can be found by clicking the following link: Goon Squad. Note especially this one: then he went down under a hail of black boots.

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A Light at the End of the Tunnell

Colonel Harry Tunnell 

Michael Yon recently published a remarkable and courageous letter by US Army Colonel Harry Tunnell to the Secretary of the Army regarding deficiencies in our military operations in Afghanistan.  Colonel Tunnell is now retired, but the letter was sent while he was on active duty in 2010. Yon calls it “stunning” and I wholeheartedly agree. It is a “must read“.

Colonel Tunnell is a controversial figure in the Army. A bluntly outspoken critic of COIN with strong views on military professionalism and tactical leadership, he served as a commander of combat troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where he was badly wounded. Overcoming his injury, Colonel Tunnel returned to command a Stryker brigade in Afghanistan and clash with his ISAF superiors over his use of older Army doctrine on counter-guerrilla operations instead of the pop-centric COIN of FM 3-24.  Tunnell aggressively and repeatedly attacked the Taliban in his area of operations, pressing them, which resulted in frequent combat and casualties on both sides – something that was out-of-step with ISAF’s tactical guidance. Several enlisted soldiers in the Stryker brigade were convicted of the infamous “Kill Team” murders which led to Tunnell being investigated and cleared by the Army which found no causal responsibility from Tunnell’s advocacy of aggressive tactics but nonetheless reprimanded him for “poor command climate”.

In light of  Tunnell’s letter to the Secretary of the Army, interpret that administrative action as you wish. Afterwards, Colonel Tunnell continued to be a harsh critic of COIN and the focus of periodic,  extremely one-sided, negative stories in the media.

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Non-Verbal Impressions of the 3rd Presidential Debate

Presidential debates are public demonstrations of leadership ability, not policy, and are THE place where the arguable majority of voters who rely on “non-verbal intelligence” decide who to vote for. The more PRESIDENTIAL a candidate looks, the better he does. As I did with the 2nd Debate, I watched this one with the sound off and a text crawl line to try and understand what the debate was communicating to those “non-verbal intelligence” voters.

General impression — This was Obama’s best debate. The CBS moderator Bob Schieffer played it straight. Romney looked Presidential, which was both his goal and his outstanding success.

These are my notes in rough time order.

1. The visuals with Obama and Romney have been more of the same from the previous debates. Romney is more polished and Obama lectures and glares. Romney smiles and engages. Obama seems angry, but has less head up, nostrils showing, arrogance in his visuals. Rinse and repeat.

2. The visuals on Romney as he speaks of serious issues is a engaged, serious face. He is talking to the moderator and through him to the American people. Obama’s posture is more hunched over than Romney. Obama points _at_ the moderator where as Romney points in another direction. It is a subtle thing, but is makes the point for Romney without the…threat?…Obama seems to have with his pointing gestures.

3. Ohhh… There is Romney’s constipated smile. That has to be the worse TV angle he has had. This seated format limits his playing the camera angles like the first two debates. If this seated format had been the first one, Romney would not have scored as big a win.

4. Romney seems to have a conscious effort going to keep his chin tucked when speaking to avoid even a hint of the head up head pose Obama had in the previous two debates. The seated format gives Obama and the camera men more lee way to video Obama in a less visually arrogant pose while seated or speaking.

5. There are the Obama death glares and the Romney constipated smiles going back and forth.

6. Now Romney talking to the moderator. Chin tucked. Romney’s gestures seem smaller and less expressive than the last two debates while his facial expressions have grown more intimate. This will play VERY STRONGLY with women voters. Obama just lost the election by 7% or more. I can see a practiced before the television screen expression for “Q” rating effect and Romney is doing it well, over and over again!!!

7. Both candidates are wearing American flag pins. The red-blue visuals of the ties from the first two debates between the two men have changed. Romney went for a Red tie with Blue stripes…again subtle, but powerful imagery. Romney is also using expressive hand gestures, those in the intimate close up are not seen, but the pull back they provide exclamation points.

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The Hardest Job in the World

I saw this job post in the Chicago Tribune today. It is for an Inspector General for New Orleans.

Position established to develop a program of investigation, audit and performance review to provide accountability and oversight for Jefferson Parish and related governmental entities.

A few things leaped to mind.

1) this is the hardest job in the world, in famously corrupt New Orleans

2) why would you advertise in the 2nd most corrupt state, Illinois, to fill this vacancy? We obviously can’t police ourselves

Cross posted at LITGM

Labor Regulations Take Aim at the Economy and Free Speech

Alongside evidence of weak job growth, there are also signs of recovery. What may be recovering, however, is the recession. New orders for manufactured goods declined 13.2% in August, the steepest decline since January 2009. Real average hourly earnings declined 0.6% in August and 0.3% more in September. And the number of persons working only part-time because full-time work was unavailable increased from 7.9 million in August to 8.5 million in September.

Overall, the state of the economy is somewhere between retrogressive and woeful. Detailing the policies and initiatives of the Obama administration that have kept the economy down as it struggled to recover is an immense task, but it needs to be done.

A good place to start is the regulatory burden that has given businesses reasons to think twice about hiring more people. In his last State of the Union Address, Obama claimed, “I’ve approved fewer regulations in the last three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his.” The Heritage Foundation pointed out that Obama was counting all regulations no matter their size or cost as the same. Many Bush-era regulations eased compliance costs. The Heritage Foundation calculated that in its first three years the Obama administration adopted 106 major regulations that increased costs on private-sector activity compared to 28 such regulations in the first three years of the Bush administration. The regulations of the first three years of the Obama administration imposed $46 billion in annual costs while those of the Bush administration imposed $8.1 billion in annual costs.

Proposed regulations of the Obama administration also have to be added to the toll. Businessmen—as well as farmers—have also had to be concerned about mischievous regulations that, so far, they have been able to fend off. For example, a pair of proposed labor regulations combine Obama’s antipathy for employers with his antipathy for the Constitution. One regulation coerces speech, and the other restrains speech.

The regulation that would coerce speech was adopted by the National Labor Relations Board in August 2011. Observing that union organizing efforts were badly in need of some publicity, the NLRB adopted a regulation requiring employers to post a notice with a rather slanted list of rights. The notice states that employees have a right to join a union, negotiate with an employer through the union, bargain collectively, strike, picket, and lastly choose to do none of those things. The notice does not inform employees of their right to decertify a union, refuse to pay union dues in a right-to-work state, and refuse to pay dues greater than what is required for representational purposes. The rule makes failure to hang up the notice an unfair labor practice.

The NLRB’s statutory authority for this command is dubious. Board member Brian Hayes wrote a withering dissent that opened with Justice Scalia’s observation that “agencies may play the sorcerer’s apprentice but not the sorcerer himself” and concluded that the regulation is “both unauthorized and arbitrary and capricious.”

Lawsuits were filed against the rule in federal courts in South Carolina and the District of Columbia. The lawsuits argued that the National Labor Relations Act did not authorize the National Labor Relations Board to require a poster and that the regulation compelled employers to present a pro-union message on their property and was therefore unconstitutional, like the New Hampshire law that had required “Live Free or Die” to be on every license plate. During the litigation, the NLRB repeatedly postponed implementing the rule.

The courts split on whether the NLRB exceeded its authority. The South Carolina district court said there are many federal statutes that call for the posting of notices, and the National Labor Relations Act is not one of them. Nonetheless, the D.C. district court held that the rule was somewhere within the NLRB’s rulemaking powers. Regarding the constitutional issue, the D.C. district court said the rule does not compel employers to say anything. The notice is the government’s speech, the government’s message.

Both cases are on appeal. The D.C. district court enjoined enforcement of the rule during the appeals.

The U.S. Department of Labor Unions proposed the regulation that would restrain free speech. That regulation would constrict an exemption from a reporting requirement under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. The Act requires employers to report in detail any agreements with or payments to a consultant who undertakes activities to persuade employees on whether or not to organize and bargain collectively. The Act has an exemption providing that reports are not required on account of advice to an employer. For years the Labor Department had interpreted the exemption to cover activities that involved both advice to the employer and persuasion of employees. In June 2011 the Department proposed a regulation, known as “the persuader rule,” changing its interpretation of the exemption so that it covers only services related exclusively to advice. If any part of the service is to persuade employees, directly or indirectly, then the exemption is lost.

The Department received hostile comments on the proposal not only from the Chamber of Commerce, as you might expect, but also from the American Bar Association. The Chamber and the Bar Association said the persuader rule’s new subjective test made the advice exemption meaningless. The Bar Association said that the persuader rule would thwart the will of Congress, conflict with the ABA Model Rule on confidentiality, and undermine both the confidential lawyer-client relationship and employers’ right to counsel.

Faced with that opposition, the Labor Department has taken no further action on the persuader rule. The Department may be waiting until after the election. The rule could be part of the unknown, unspoken agenda for a second term.

If the persuader rule ever is adopted, it too should be challenged on constitutional grounds. The Supreme Court has not yet directly addressed whether attorney advice is protected speech and, if so, what level of scrutiny should be given to regulation of it. Renee Knake argues in a recent law review article that attorney advice is protected speech and restraints on attorney advice should be given strict scrutiny. That is, they are unconstitutional unless they are necessary to further a compelling governmental interest and are narrowly tailored to do so using the least restrictive means.

These two latent regulations of the NLRB and the Department of Labor are not “regulations on Wall Street,” as Obama likes to refer to all of his regulations. Wall Street firms, not being labor intensive, would be among the enterprises least burdened by these rules.

The rules are far from the administration’s worst insult to the First Amendment (that prize goes to the suppression of the free exercise of religion by the Department of Health and Human Services), but they are part of a pattern of not allowing the First Amendment, the Recess Clause, the Presentment Clause, the Commerce Clause, or anything else get in the way of the task of suppressing the economy.

With mischief like these regulations in mind, Mitt Romney said at the second debate, “I talk to small business across the country. They say, ‘We feel like we’re under attack from our own government.’” Denying that Obama is hostile to business, Democrats insist that his infamous taunt “You didn’t build that” has to be taken in context. I agree. The context is his presidency.

The Phobia(s) That May Destroy America

I am continually amazed by the level of fear, contempt, and anger that many educated/urban/upper-middle-class people demonstrate toward Christians and rural people (especially southerners.) This complex of negative emotions often greatly exceeds anything that these same people feel toward radical Islamists or dangerous rogue-state governments. I’m not a Christian myself, or really a religious person at all, but I’d think that one would be a lot more worried about people who want to cut your head off, blow you up, or at a bare minimum shut down your freedom of speech than about people who want to talk to you about Jesus (or Nascar!)

It seems that there are quite a few people who vote Democratic, even when their domestic and foreign-policy views are not closely aligned with those of the Democratic Party, because they view the Republican Party and its candidates as being dominated by Christians and “rednecks.”

What is the origin of this anti-Christian anti-“redneck” feeling? Some have suggested that it’s a matter of oikophobia…the aversion to the familiar, or “”the repudiation of inheritance and home,” as philosopher Roger Scruton uses the term. I think this is doubtless true in some cases: the kid who grew up in a rural Christian home and wants to make a clean break with his family heritage, or the individual who grew up in an oppressively-conformist Bible Belt community. But I think such cases represent a relatively small part of the category of people I’m talking about here. A fervently anti-Christian, anti-Southern individual who grew up in New York or Boston or San Francisco is unlikely to be motivated by oikophobia–indeed, far from being excessively familiar, Christians and Southern people are likely as exotic to him as the most remote tribes of New Guinea.

Equally exotic, but much safer to sneer at…and here, I think, we have the explanation for much though not all of the anti-Christian anti-Southern bigotry: It is a safe outlet for the unfortunately-common human tendency to look down on members of an out group. Safer socially than bigotry against Black people or gays or those New Guinea tribesmen; much less likely to earn you the disapproval of authority figures in school or work or of your neighbors. Safer physically than saying anything negative about Muslims, as you’re much less likely to face violent retaliation.

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