Originalism continues to be debated among scholars. Serious work occurs in the academic journals but also in the blogs. If one is not reading the blogs, one simply misses a lot of what is important.
Are our laws producing “identity politics” and the divisions it fosters?
A scientist, or perhaps it was an engineer, once asked the political philosopher Harry Jaffa for a general scientific rule about politics. After reflecting upon the bizarre request, Jaffa came up with the following:
S = 2P, where “S” = solution and “P” = problem. Politics is tragic; there are no final solutions.
I missed most of the Vietnam War, because I was too young to follow the news and it was too recent to be covered in my American history classes. I was thus glad to have the opportunity to read Mark Bowden’s Hue 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam. Bowden is a superb writer and he makes the reader feel present for the house to house combat needed to take back Hue from the North Vietnamese and National Front forces during the Tet offensive. And he persuasively makes the case that a battle won by our Marines marked the beginning of decline in popular support for the war that led to America’s ultimate defeat.
The book has important lessons for today. First, the generals in charge of our troops did not understand the war because they were still fighting the battles of their youth. This retrospection led them to overestimate the importance of armor and underestimate the effectiveness of the Vietcong whose lack of advanced weaponry made less difference in the jungle and urban areas than it did the more open fields of Europe.
Similarly today, it seems that the generals have not mastered the art of war in Afghanistan, relying on tactics like the surge that succeeded in Iraq but have not beaten the Taliban. Whether President Trump’s new more focused counter-terrorism strategy will work better is beyond my capacity to judge. But I was heartened that the President demanded to speak to non-commissioned officers who had spent a lot of time fighting in Afghanistan.
President Trump’s inability or unwillingness to lead on a legislative agenda has been cast as bad news for conservatism. But his weakness may trigger a renaissance of conservatism properly understood.
This is the title of an e book by Arnold Kling, who used to blog at our sister site and now blogs at Askblog. The book, which is well worth reading, argues that conservatives, libertarians, and progressives each have a different language that they use to analyze politics. According to Kling, conservatives view political issues as involving those who favor the institutions of civilization and those who seek to tear them down. Libertarians view political issues as a conflict between those who favor liberty and those who seek to impose coercion. And progressives view political issues as involving a situation where…
Secretary Betsy DeVos recently announced that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights will review the controversial Title IX guidelines on sexual assault and other forms of sexual harassment disseminated by the Obama administration. The new leadership at OCR has already made an important change in enforcement policy: no longer does it follow the 2014-2016 strategy of turning every sexual violence complaint filed by an individual into a well-publicized compliance review of the entire educational institution in question.
The Trump administration has been accused of being a threat to the rule of law but in at least one very important respect, it has restored the rule of law. The Department of Justice recently announced the end of operation Choke Point. Choke Point was a program by which the Obama administration through the Department of Justice and banking agencies discouraged banks from lending to whole classes of businesses. Not surprisingly, two of the industries targeted, pay day lending and gun sellers, were ones that the Obama administration disliked but could not persuade Congress to shut down or harass.
The problem with this program is that the government lacked authority to try to attack certain industries by impairing their access to capital. To be sure, the government can prohibit banks from doing business with particular companies that are engaged in money laundering or where there is evidence that that there is high risk of their doing so. But the government did not have the substantial evidence that whole industries engaged in money laundering to justify handcuffing completely innocent enterprises. The Obama administration also tried to bolster its case by arguing that banks would damage their reputation by lending to these companies, as if the government has the general authority to figure out what burnishes the reputation of banks.
While the Obama administration was lawless in other respects, Operation Choke Point was particularly dangerous. Banking lies at the commanding heights of the economy. By occupying it, the government can take control.
In historical terms, tolerance is a relatively recent invention.
In 1775, a 36-year-old named Patrick Henry swung the balance of the Second Virginia Convention with these words:
Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
This impassioned statement, with its famous concluding phrase, convinced the delegates to commit troops to the War of Independence. Henry dominates the American imagination as a fiery orator and champion of independence.
A while back I talked about the health care and health insurance market and how it is the result of tremendous government regulation. There are portions that involve competition, but they are limited by a variety of matters, including large distortions from licensing, regulation, tax exclusions, and government provided health care. The matters are so complicated, it is hard to get a handle on it. The transfers and redistributions are significant and hard to follow. But it is worthwhile just attempting to describe some basic aspects of this sector. One take on what is happening is the following story. It is my…