Frankly, as superficially appealing as they might sound, appeals to “the dignity of the office” are invariably prissy, serving more often than not as a means by which humorless partisans might grumble about their team’s being dinged without appearing hypersensitive. Indeed, far from damaging the national fabric, astringent mockery of the powerful is a healthy and necessary thing — a source of valuable catharsis that serves also as a canary in the proverbial coal mine. When I see the most powerful man in the country being not only mocked, but hanged and burned in effigy too, my first thought is less “gosh, how awful” than “wow, is this a free country or what?” A historical rule of thumb: If a ragtag group of political dissenters can simulate the violent execution of the head of the executive branch and not be so much as scratched as a result, the country is a free one. Who cares if a few of our more delicate sorts reach for the smelling salts? ›› Read on National Review Online
I appeared on AEI’s “Banter” podcast this week. We talked about how I became a conservative, why I love firearms, and my cover story on Neil DeGrasse Tyson and the “nerd” culture.
Watching the genuine disbelief with which the salvo has been met on the left serves, oddly enough, to illustrate how important pushback in this area is — and, too, to remind us that separation of powers is a principle for which each generation must fight. Demonstrating its unmatched genius for meeting every criticism with a contemptuous slogan, Obama and his team have responded to the indictment by claiming ad nauseam that the president is being sued for “doing his job.” That this excuse is still viable is utterly remarkable. In the last few years, the White House has reflexively insinuated that “checks and balances” are not so much the foundation of the American settlement as an expendable and academic notion, relying for cover upon a host of obedient media allies who were only too happy to assure their readers that limits on executive power were merely the preserve of fringe legal theorists like the nine justices who currently sit on the Supreme Court. No defeat, it seems, will be sufficient to cow them. ›› Read on National Review Online
One can only presume that when, in 1987, the British singer Sting described himself as an “Englishman in New York” — and a “legal alien” to boot — he did not set many eyes rolling. What a difference three decades make. For this innocuous, even quotidian observation, he would now be at risk of a visit from the language police. In 2014, such microaggressions are frowned upon, dear boy. ›› Read on National Review Online
The “long train of abuses and usurpations” that the Declaration of Independence served to enumerate relate to more than merely the balance of power: among other things, the discontents of the 13 colonies objected loudly to the violation of individual rights to which British subjects had become happily accustomed, and they were greatly vexed by the unwillingness of administrators in England to arrive at political outcomes with which they were willing to comply. Nevertheless, the document’s hottest fire is directed without apology at the monarchy, which was perceived to be undermining the sacred autonomy that its signatories considered their birthright. Diverse as they were, the colonial “Systems of Government” that Thomas Jefferson regretted were being “altered” by British intrusion were steeped in that country’s parliamentary tradition, many territories having used the opportunity afforded to them by London’s long period of “wise and salutary neglect” to institute a form of self-government that, for its day, was extraordinarily advanced. As we have learned from antiquity, men will fight more fiercely for the preservation of what they have known than they will for the acquisition of something new. The British in America were apparently willing to tolerate a good deal of arrogation. Their assemblies, however, were off-limits. ›› Read on National Review Online
One cannot help but wonder whether Kristof and Reid are aware of what the Supreme Court actually does — which, as anybody who has even a fleeting grasp of American civics knows, is not to set American policy, on health or anything else, but to interpret and uphold the law. In this particular case, the justices were called to judge whether a mandate that was pushed out by the Obama administration in 2012 was in conflict with another law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was added to the books in 1992. This being so, the degree to which those who decided the case are “experts on women’s health” is wholly immaterial. The justices are jurists not doctors — they are nine appointed attorneys whose role in the American settlement is to provide legal answers to legal questions. Man or woman; straight or gay; handsome or ugly; Jew, Catholic, or protestant — the law must remain the law, regardless of in whose name its intricacies are decided. The alternative would be disastrous. Does Harry Reid aspire to see Roe v. Wade, which was decided by nine men, overturned? ›› Read on National Review Online