Month: December 2016

Is Administrative Law Unlawful? (Philip Hamburger)

Administrative law—the delegation by the legislature of legislative and judicial power to the executive—is the backdrop of every American life, but very few people realize this. Fewer still realize that this backdrop is less like a fine wallcovering, an aesthetically pleasing but minor element, and more like a sticky web that, not seen until it’s too late, entraps prey prior to its being devoured. To remedy this lack of knowledge, Phillip Hamburger has written this outstanding book, which explains how we got here, where we are, and why that is bad.

Light Infantry Tactics: For Small Teams (Christopher Larsen)

In these latter days, many people in flyover country have been preparing for the Apocalypse. This is not the Apocalypse of St. John, depicted memorably, if flatly and with bad theology, in the Left Behind series of books. No, this is a secular apocalypse, driven by many different fears. These range from the semi-reasonable (pandemics leading to social breakdown) to the stupid (the magnetic poles flipping and leading to something or other). But in all cases, the fears drive a significant number of people, commonly known as “preppers,” to prepare, for something wicked this way comes. And of those preparations, some of the most common are military preparations.

Colloquy: Why Conservatives Don’t Care About “Russian Email Hacks”

[Italics are my interlocutor; regular text is me.] I honestly don’t understand this “Russian hacking” thing. As I understand it, somebody (apparently presumably the Russians) stole private Democratic emails damaging to the Democrats and publicized them. This allegedly somehow supposedly “rigged” the election. As far as I can tell, there is no claim of actual rigging (vote fraud, etc.). And the emails are all true and correct. But if someone had stolen similarly damaging Republican emails and sent them to the NYT, the NYT would immediately have published them, been widely praised for their “scoop,” preened about the importance of their action, and told Republicans that “Americans have a right to know.” What am I missing? Any Democrats want to illuminate this for me? . . . I suppose that if there was “coordination/complicity” with the Trump campaign that would be news. But there appears to be no evidence whatsoever of that, or even any allegation of it–the focus is all on the Big, Bad Russians. (And, of course, when old Trump tax documents were …

What Washington Gets Wrong (Jennifer Bachner and Benjamin Ginsberg)

“What Washington Gets Wrong” shows, by polling statistics, what we all know already. Namely, that those who run the government, from Capitol City—sorry, from Washington—not only think differently from Americans as whole, but also have different policy priorities and have deep contempt for most Americans. This isn’t a surprise, because this is the nature of every bureaucratic ruling class throughout history, though ours is both less monetarily corrupt than usual, and more ideologically corrupt than usual. But these basic facts are interesting and useful to see proven and quantified, and even more interesting, to me, are some of the authors’ suggestions to alleviate the problem—which I think don’t go far enough, but would at least be a start.

C. S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law (Justin Buckley Dyer and Micah J. Watson)

“C.S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law” collects in one short book the thoughts of Lewis on human collective action, i.e., politics. The thesis of the authors, Justin Dyer and Micah Watson, is that Lewis believed Christianity implied certain broad conclusions about how politics should be ordered. Moreover, these conclusions are essential to understand Lewis’s overall thought, which is often viewed as divorced from politics, but is in fact very much engaged with politics.

Does Political Correctness Exist Among Conservatives?

[This is a reaction requested from me regarding a Washington Post article, by Alex Nowrasteh, titled “The right has its own version of political correctness. It’s just as stifling.”] This is not convincing, because it posits a false analogy.  (It is also extremely badly written.)  The analogy is false because it falsely defines “political correctness.”  Conservatives don’t regard PC as bad because it shows that people have strong feelings, or because those feelings are believed to be irrational.  (A side note:  PC has been around for 30 years, not 10.  See my review of Thiel’s “The Diversity Myth,” which was written in 1996.)  They regard PC as bad because in wide swathes of America, and disproportionately in elite occupations, it is used as both reason and mechanism to punish those who fail to toe the line on whatever today’s PC orthodoxy is.  (That orthodoxy, and the weighting of its different tenets, as with any religion substitute ideology, shifts constantly—see, e.g., transgender rights.)  That is, PC imports ideological concepts as a tool to punish and silence ideological opponents, …