Archives



Is Gridlock a Conservative Victory?

February 22, 2013

If you believe that the consensus of the pundits can be wrong, please read on. Washington is not so much gridlocked as it is subject to a string of conservative victories in foreign policy, homeland protection, economic policy and the courts, as well as changes to the rules of the game (except in cultural matters, such as gay marriage and family law).

Gun Control? We Need Domestic Disarmament

February 19, 2013 3:19 a.m.

Nowhere is the defeatist liberal approach to American politics more evident than in the post-Newtown campaign for gun control. Liberals are rushing to repeat, like a devout incantation, hand on one's heart, that "we believe in the Second Amendment" -- in an "individual's right to own a gun." Half of the legal and moral battle is lost right there and then. Instead, liberals should emphasize that throughout the total American legal history until 2008, the Supreme Court -- which at times has been very conservative -- has always held that the right to own guns belongs not to the individual but, as the Second Amendment states, to a "well regulated militia." (For details on the cases involved, go here). That the right to own guns is a communitarian right, not an individualized one.

Climate Change? Don’t Hold Your Breath

February 5, 2013 11:10 a.m.

When I served in the White House, I convinced a speech writer to insert a paragraph in favor of a policy I championed into President Carter’s forthcoming speech. I was going (as many had before me) to use this paragraph to urge the relevant agencies to proceed, on the ground that, “the president stated… ” I was stopped by a new staff director who, during the fourth year of the Carter administration, introduced a “revolutionary” idea: that speeches should be checked against policy. That is, that no major themes were to be run up the flag pole unless there was some policy in the offings to follow such unfurling.

The Big Eye Is Not in the Sky

January 23, 2013

New York City is installing a system that will track people 24/7, using thousands of closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs), radiation and license plate readers, and other technologies. If it works as promised, Microsoft — which is developing the software — stands by to sell it to your city. The invasion of privacy is much greater than anything we have seen so far. You can see this by comparing what any one CCTV or a license reader tracks, to the new Domain Awareness System (the name of the new system just installed in New York City) does.

Obama’s Foreign Policy: Three Stages of Hope

January 17, 2013

When President Obama first entered into office in 2009, he was riding a huge wave of hope. He was going to engage other nations rather than confront them, work closely with allies rather than rush ahead unilaterally, restore the good name of the United States across the word and win over the Arab “street.”

Transparency Is Overrated

January 13, 2013

In a representative democracy, data only goes so far—and knowledge is no substitute for real regulation.

The Conservative ‘Party’ Dominates

January 11, 2013

There is a very widely shared myth about “Washington.” Accordingly, there are two camps, the right-wing GOP and the left-leaning Democrats, who are more or less matched. Each control one house of Congress, and command about half of the electorate. Hence, the gridlock.

The Conservatives Are Coming!

December 20, 2012

The ink on the reports of the election results has barely dried and conservatives have already rolled out the first big post-election victory — by enacting a so called “right to work” law in, of all places, Michigan. Previously, the labor unions that were defeated — in the 23 states with right to work laws, in addition to the defeats in Ohio and Wisconsin — included mainly select public sector employees. In Michigan, the labor unions of private sector employees, including the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and Teamsters, were also set back. And this is in the state in which the UAW was born, a state long known as one in which the labor movement is particularly strong. In Ohio and Wisconsin, the defeats came after huge and prolonged demonstrations. In Michigan, the labor unions were unable to mount a similarly prolonged protest.

Gun-Free Homes and Communities

December 18, 2012

We should not wait for our elected officials, in President Obama's good words, "to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics." We should do our share. One way to proceed is to mark our homes, apartments and condos, with a "gun free" sign. Parents should notify their friends that they would be reluctant to send their child over for a play date unless the home was safe from guns. Residential communities should pass rules that ban bringing guns onto their premises, clearly marking them as gun free.

Capitalism: a Terminal Case?

May 10, 1976

“Capitalism: a Terminal Case?” Chronicle of Higher Education XII, No. 11 (May 10, 1976), p. 20. (Robert L. Heilbroner, Business Civilization in Decline.)