PowerLine -> Euroweenies: Save Us From Trump! – The Problem of Religion and Democracy

PowerLine -> Euroweenies: Save Us From Trump! – The Problem of Religion and Democracy

Daily Digest


  • Euroweenies: Save Us From Trump!
  • The Gorsuch Confirmation and the Finnis Connection
  • What was once Calhoun College is now…
  • The Problem of Religion and Democracy
  • Martin Karo: Analyze this
Euroweenies: Save Us From Trump!

Posted: 11 Feb 2017 04:36 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons, has proposed to bar President Trump from speaking to Parliament when he visits the U.K., on account of his supposed “racism and sexism.” That is an extreme case, but it is fair to say that Trump is deeply unpopular with Europe’s elites. Of course, if those elites were a little more perceptive, they might realize that 1) the critical threats they face do not come from across the Atlantic, and 2) as for dealing with those threats, they might learn something from Trump.

This cartoon, from Israel National News, humorously sums up the attitude of European leaders toward Trump:

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 6.33.46 PM

The Gorsuch Confirmation and the Finnis Connection

Posted: 11 Feb 2017 01:59 PM PST

(Steven Hayward)I haven’t had time to weigh in yet on the Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court, so it is time to catch up. In addition to having a law degree from Harvard, it is notable that Gorsuch also took a leave from his lucrative law practice to attend Oxford University to earn a Ph.D. under the direction of John Finnis. Never heard of John Finnis? I predict you will in the confirmation hearings. And the likelihood is that Democrats will make fools of themselves, or at the very least unwittingly reveal their essential contempt for the American Founding, and the only question is whether Gorsuch, who appears to be a gentleman of the first order, will restrain himself from embarrassing them out of the political calculus of merely wanting to get to a confirmation vote with the least amount of controversy.

FinnisFinnis is a long time professor of jurisprudence at Oxford and the author of several fine books on the centrality of natural law to jurisprudence. His most notable book is Natural Law and Natural Rights (highly recommended, by the way), and I am sure right now Democratic staffers on the Judiciary Committee are reading through it not with an eye to comprehension, but to see if they can derive any “gotcha” questions from the text to pose to Judge Gorsuch. Because that’s exactly what Joe Biden did to Clarence Thomas back in 1991, except with a different book.

I can’t readily find a video of it on YouTube, but I distinctly recall that Sen. Biden decided to attack Thomas’s previously expressed support for the founders’ understanding of natural law and natural rights by holding up Richard Epstein’s impressive treatise on property rights, Takings, and demanding of Thomas, “Are you now or have you ever been a reader of this book?”

The Democratic slogan will be that Gorsuch is “out of the mainstream,” which is shorthand for “not appointed by a Democrat.” But more than that—it means that anyone who is faithful to the philosophy of the American Founding is “out of the mainstream.”

If you want to see how badly liberals want to avoid even acknowledging this issue, perhaps I should refer everyone to a passage from a certain forthcoming book (that Amazon has started shipping, incidentally!!):

Liberals are, at best, tentative when the subject [of the founders’ views of natural rights] comes up. Barack Obama cited the preface of the Declaration of Independence approvingly in his second inaugural address, but immediately drew back from embracing it as expressing a rational or timeless truth: [H]istory tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing. . .” (Emphasis added.)

An especially revealing example of the aversion liberals have to embracing the principles of the Declaration is Justice Elena Kagan, who in the course of her confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court in 2010 declined to state whether she agreed with the ideas of the Declaration, especially the central idea of natural rights antecedent to all government:

SEN. TOM COBURN: I’m not asking about your judicial – I’m asking you, Elena Kagan, do you personally believe there is a fundamental right in this area. Do you agree with Blackstone that the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, the right of having and using arms for self-preservation and defense? He didn’t say that was a Constitutional right. He said that’s a natural right. And what I’m asking you is do you agree with him?

KAGAN: Senator Coburn, to be honest with you, I don’t have a view of what are natural rights, independent of the Constitution, and my job as a justice will be to enforce and defend the Constitution and other laws of the United States.

COBURN: So you wouldn’t embrace what the Declaration of Independence says, that we have certain inalienable and God-given rights that aren’t given in the Constitution, that are ours, ours alone, and that the government doesn’t give those to us.

KAGAN: Senator Coburn, I believe that the Constitution is an extraordinary document, and I’m not saying I do not believe that there are rights preexisting the Constitution and the laws, but my job as a justice is to enforce the Constitution and the laws.

COBURN:  I understand that. I’m not talking about as a justice, I’m talking about Elena Kagan. What do you believe? Are there inalienable rights for us? Do you believe that?

KAGAN: Senator Coburn, I think that the question of what I believe as to what people’s rights are outside the Constitution and the laws – that you should not want me to act in any way on the basis of such a belief.

What Thomas Jefferson called “an expression of the American mind” is now more a dusty relic for a mind that has moved on. As historian Pauline Meier put it in her widely regarded 1997 book on the Declaration entitled American Scripture, “in the twentieth century it became necessary to explain away the Declaration of Independence as Jefferson understood it.” There are myriad reasons for this re-interpretive necessity, but all can be reduced to a common cause—the need to get over the American founding because of its philosophical and constitutional constraints on visionary politics.

Judge Gorsuch stands foursquare in the way of the liberal willfulness to jettison the principles of the Constitution, which is why the left is in a fury to defeat him, as they have been with just about every other recent Republican Supreme Court appointment. But I suspect any liberal attempt to use Finnis against Gorsuch will result in finis to their attempt to block him.

What was once Calhoun College is now…

Posted: 11 Feb 2017 01:28 PM PST

(Scott Johnson)Yale’s Calhoun College is one of the university’s venerable residential colleges. It’s named after the prominent alumnus John C. Calhoun. Calhoun served as Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and United States Senator. He was the also the leading Southern proponent of slavery until his death in 1850. Calhoun is most famous for his advocacy of slavery as a “positive good.” The man did a lot of damage.

Calhoun’s successors in the Democratic Party have evolved. Now they advocate racial discrimination as a positive good. Calhoun also contributed the doctrine of the concurrent majority, beloved of Harvard Law School “civil rights theorist” Lani Guinier. And prominent Democrats have adopted Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification in the sanctuary cities movement. His legacy survives, as Victor Davis Hanson has frequently argued (here, most recently). Calhoun would be proud.

Yale has undertaken a great renaming project. Although Calhoun College was to survive it, the irresistible force of political correctness has met the eminently movable object of Calhoun’s name.

Calhoun College was so named in 1931. Now the university cannot even explain what it was thinking at the time. Yale President Peter Salovey confesses: “Although it is not clear exactly how Calhoun’s proslavery and racist views figured in the 1931 naming decision, depictions in the college celebrating plantation life and the ‘Old South’ suggest that Calhoun was honored not simply as a statesman and political theorist but in full contemplation of his unique place in the history of slavery[.]”

Yale has determined that Calhoun’s name will give way to that of one Grace Murray Hopper. What once was Calhoun College is now (or will shortly be) Hopper College. Yale’s announcement has been posted along with relevant links and citations. Read about Hopper in the announcement.

Yale, however, leaves former alumni residents of Calhoun College with a difficult choice. They “may continue to associate themselves with the name Calhoun College or they may choose to claim Grace Hopper College as their own.”

The Problem of Religion and Democracy

Posted: 11 Feb 2017 11:19 AM PST

(Steven Hayward)The American solution to the problem of religious conflict in politics—the First Amendment and the “religious test” clause of Article VI of the Constitution—is not well understood today. Much of the time, in fact, liberals deliberately distort the meaning of these clauses to imply a hostility toward religion. Recovering the rightful understanding can begin with a close look at Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty.

But readers really interested in a deeper dive into this whole subject should take in Giorgi Areshidze’s new book, Democratic Religion from Locke to Obama: Faith and the Civic Life of Democracy. It’s out recently from University Press of Kansas, which is unusual among academic publishers for producing books that are actually readable and interesting, even to—perhaps especially to—the non-specialist. Don’t be scared by the title here. Much of the book discusses the religious aspects of familiar figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., along with some analysis of the problematic approach to religion by the grand vizier of modern liberalism, John Rawls. Areshidze is appropriately skeptical of the coherence of Barack Obama’s religious profile, as he explains in this short conversation we had a few weeks back (2:42 long):

Martin Karo: Analyze this

Posted: 11 Feb 2017 07:06 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)It’s hard to keep up with the news in the early weeks of the Trump administration. Reader Martin Karo writes to note one story we have overlooked so far. He observes that the Daily Caller seems to be the go-to site on the story, with this excellent February 7 update as well as the February 4 report linked below. Mr. Karo titles this “We were in the very best of hands.” He writes:

No doubt there’s a difference between avoiding Islamophobia and willful blindness to obvious risks, but let’s just say the Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence draw the line in a somewhat different place than the Power Line cognoscenti might. Herewith the tale of the intrepid Brothers Awan — brothers named Abid, Imran and Jamal Awan…who got themselves hired as IT professionals for numerous Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (listed in the House Directory here).

Horatio Alger would be proud – they somehow managed to get themselves paid three times the average rate of IT professionals working in Congress. They displayed admirable thrift – all living in the same house (not their parents’). They pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, one overcoming bankruptcy (despite being incredibly overpaid) and a felony record to get themselves hired into sensitive Intel positions for prominent Democratic congresspersons. Inquisitive fellows, they were, poking around in congressional computer systems without authorization.

Did I mention thrifty? Apparently, in addition to illicit information acquisition, they saved money by allegedly taking home some odds and ends, office supplies, like pens and notepad and PCs and paperclips and servers and cell phones…

There is no doubt more of the story to come. The house inhabited by the Awans was owned by yet another Democratic Committee IT staffer with a name that apparently hails from somewhere east of the Levantine. There were four brothers, not three; I speculate from the directory that brother Omar is the fourth, and based on the same directory, apparently also privy to some sensitive information. Note one of the staffers served by an Awan was the infamous Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Perhaps some foreign government other than Putin’s was the source of the ballyhooed DNC hack. No charges have yet been brought.

It’s fun to speculate what the MSM news lead would be if these guys were Caucasians, or even naturalized American citizens: “Minnesota Men suspended with pay pending an investigation into IT irregularities…” It’s hard to see the Times or the Strib going with the apparently more accurate “Democratic Congresscritters’ PC Compromises Intelligence Committee Members’ PCs.”

Well, for now, it will have to remain speculation. Other than one vague Politico story and-and an even vaguer BuzzFeed story, not a single mainstream media outlet has designed to print anything about this episode.

The investigation supposedly started “late last year,” yet somehow the alleged — how to put it? – unauthorized accessors of information and undocumented removers of electronics were not cut off until two weeks after Obama left office. Must be an Islamophobic false flag operation a coincidence.

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