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Overreach of Bureaucratic Power

from The National Review, Matthew Continetti writes Who Rules The United States:

Here was a case of current and former national security officials using their position, their sources, and their methods to crush a political enemy. And no one but supporters of the president seems to be disturbed. Why? Because we are meant to believe that the mysterious, elusive, nefarious, and to date unproven connection between Donald Trump and the Kremlin is more important than the norms of intelligence and the decisions of the voters.

Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.

But here’s the difference. Legislative roadblocks, adversarial journalists, and public marches are typical of a constitutional democracy. They are spelled out in our founding documents: the Senate and its rules, and the rights to speech, a free press, and assembly. Where in those documents is it written that regulators have the right not to be questioned, opposed, overturned, or indeed fired, that intelligence analysts can just call up David Ignatius and spill the beans whenever they feel like it?

HKO

Eisenhower warned of the Military Industrial Complex.  An independent and unaccountable federal bureaucracy is a far greater threat,

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Liberalism Abandoned

From Robert Zubrin at Richochet, America Needs a Liberal Party:

America needs a new Liberal Party because both major parties have abandoned liberalism. Neither adequately supports international free trade or the defense of the West — the two pillars of the liberal world order since 1945. Both lack commitment to constitutionally limited government, separation of powers, free enterprise, and human equality and liberty under law. Each supports its own Malthusian antihuman collectivist ideology: for Democrats, it is ecologism, for Republicans, it is nativism.

Ecologism — the advocacy of state-administered collective sacrifice for the putative benefit of nature — is so obviously antiliberal, reactionary, and indeed, antihuman, that I will leave it to the would-be liberals of the left to figure out how they ever got roped into adopting it as part of their core ideology. As a result, the party that once proudly proclaimed itself the defender of the poor now centers its program on ultra-regressive sales taxes of fuel and electricity, while boasting of its ability to throw entire industries and their workers on the scrap heap. Furthermore ecologism serves as a justification for the expansion of the powers of the state to intrude into every aspect of public, commercial, and private life, reinforcing monopolies, impairing initiative, and destroying opportunities at every turn.

Nativism, on the other hand, is the ideology that brought the Trumpist Trojan horse into the conservative citadel. A mirror image of the Democrats environmental Malthusianism, it asserts that rather than natural resources, it is human opportunities that are in limited supply. It is not a conservative ideology, because it is anti free enterprise and anti Judeo-Christian. Our nation’s founding creed is that of inalienable rights granted to men created equal by God. How can a movement which explicitly denies that faith be considered conservative, or even traditionally American? In fact it isn’t conservative at all. It is Alt-Right. But what is the Alt-Right really?

HKO

An excellent post and should be read slowly and completely.

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Selective Rage

Megan McArdle at Bloomberg View writes Liberals Will Not Like How This Revenge Plot Ends

Then Republicans announced that they simply weren’t going to hold a vote on Merrick Garland, the center-left judge that Obama nominated to replace him. They were well within their legal rights, and there was some precedent. But nonetheless, this obviously went farther than previous blocks — most notably, because Democrats lost the election. If I were a liberal, I would be filled with the kind of blind, existential rage that … well, that filled conservatives when Democrats passed Obamacare on a straight-line party vote using a parliamentary maneuver.

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Magnifying Their Weaknesses

From The Washington Free Beacon, Matthew Continetti writes Trump Short Circuits Washington:

Not only are there two Americas. There are two governments: one elected and one not, one that alternates between Republicans and Democrats and one that remains, decade after decade, stubbornly liberal, contemptuous of Congress, and resistant to change. It is this second government and its allies in the media and the Democratic Party that are after President Trump, that want him driven from office before his term is complete. You think I exaggerate. But consider this: When a former Defense official who teaches at Georgetown Law School takes to Foreign Policy to propose “3 Ways to Get Rid of President Trump Before 2020,” and when one of those ways is “a military coup, or at least a refusal by military leaders to obey certain orders,” we are in unknown and extremely unsettling territory.

So unlikely did the election of Donald Trump seem to Washington and its denizens that the reality of it still has not sunk in. All of the city’s worst traits—the self-regard, the group think, the obsessions with trivia, the worship of credentials, the virtue signaling, the imperiousness, the ignorance of perspectives and people from outside major metropolitan centers and college towns—not only persist. They have been magnified with Trump’s arrival. There is so much negative energy coursing through the city that circuits are overloaded. That the president still draws support from the coalition that brought him to office, that a fair number of people see his policies as commonsensical, seems not to affect any of Trump’s critics in the least. They will press on until Trump behaves like they want him to behave.

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Liberty and Democracy

From George Will at National Review, Where Justice Scalia Went Wrong:

There is no philosophizing in the Constitution — until the Founders’ philosophy is infused into it by construing the document as a charter of government for a nation that is, in Lincoln’s formulation, dedicated to a proposition that Scalia implicitly disparaged as impractical and unpragmatic. The proposition is that all persons are created equal in their possession of natural rights, to “secure” which — the Declaration’s word — the government is instituted. In Lincoln’s formulation, the Constitution is the “frame of silver” for the “apple of gold” that is the Declaration. Silver is valuable and frames are important, but gold is more precious and frames derive their importance from what they frame.

The drama of American democracy derives from the tension between the natural rights of the individual and the constructed right of the community to make such laws as the majority desires. Natural rights are affirmed by the Declaration; majority rule, circumscribed and modulated, is constructed by the Constitution and a properly engaged judiciary is duty-bound to declare majority acts invalid when they abridge natural rights.

Natural rights, which are grounded in nature, are thus “independent of” the Constitution. They are not, however, “outside” of it because its paramount purpose is the protection of those rights.

The Ninth Amendment says: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” If you believe, as Robert Bork did, that this amendment is a meaningless “inkblot” you must believe that the Framers were slapdash draftsmen about this, and only this, provision. Scalia believed that “the whole theory of democracy . . . is that the majority rules. . . . You protect minorities only because the majority determines that there are certain minority positions that deserve protection. . . . The minority loses, except to the extent that the majority, in its document of government, has agreed to accord the minority rights.”

HKO

For Will the Declaration is part of the Constitution. Our tension is between liberty and democracy.