Thursday, December 13, 2012


Any history of liberalism is bound to be fraught with contradictions, hypocrisy, and venality, because liberalism is not so much a historical phenomenon as a psychological one. The ideologies of liberalism are not made of whole cloth, but are instead fashioned around psychological needs and quirks. Investigation of the disparate liberal causes will reveal a common thread that arises, not from enlightened reason, but from an emotional response to social forces. The contradictions of liberal appeals for “the children,” in the face of opposition to school vouchers; nannyist bullying over private dietary choices amidst calls for liberalizing drug laws; and simultaneous condemnation of and participation in hateful rhetoric are easy to understand once one notices the common tell. There is a singular root of environmentalism, gun control fervor, redistributionism, population control, antagonism toward competition, and demands for soul killing conformity: There is just something about other people that bugs liberals. Liberals are threatened by other people’s freedom, because they are anxious about what those people will do with that freedom. Can just anybody really be trusted with a gun? And what if letting parents choose their children’s education leads to doctrines that are…undesirable? A liberal is a person for whom compassion for others in the abstract justifies disdain for them in reality. This is why liberals are much more fond of calling for higher taxes than they are of private charity. They have a bargain for you: do not threaten them with your freedom, your competitive spirit or your aspirations and they will will try to see to it that you get by. Decipher the words “sustainable,” “diversity,” and “progress” and you will find a misanthropic antipathy for others. The blindness that accompanies admiration of Marx, or Che, or Margaret Sanger illustrates the true nature of hard-core liberalism.

Friday, December 07, 2012


Every once and a while, particularly when some grand political venture founders on the shoals of reality, some pundit will wonder "Is America ungovernable?" Such hand-wringing also accompanies each political impasse, such as that currently affecting the national fisc. The question misses the point. America is governable; the real issue is whether it is micro-manageable or regulatable. Governance seems to become more inept, corrupt and unwieldy the more that government ignores its inherent limitations. At some point, government expands, not as a matter of public welfare, but in a relentless metastasis of self-justification.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


People have variable thresholds for violence in response to the same provocation. We expect that young people in a civilized society can control their sexual conduct, even when confronted with the most explicit tease. We do not excuse larceny if the purloined object exceeded some minimum level of desirability such that the thief could not possibly help himself.

Free citizens are expected to seek redress for actual injuries, hurt feelings or damaged reputations in manners that do not include losing self control. A person has little claim to being free if he loses control of himself when provoked, since if he cannot control control himself, he will necessarily be controlled by others. If a person can be moved to violence by a base emotional appeal, he is merely a tool of the instigator and his liberty waxes and wanes with his emotions.

Free speech assumes, rightly in my opinion, that civilized men and women can control themselves, even if some idiot pushes their emotional buttons. People of ridiculously sensitive dispositions should not expect the state to protect them from name-calling.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Modern Judges

The corrosion of the role of judges results not so much from competing views of what such roles should be, but from a more fundamental lapse. The conflict is not between will and judgment, but between reason and sentiment. Certain soft-headed notions that were emotionally appealing were given credence in legal circles, and once established metastasized into the current malady.

The first such sentiment confused fairness with compassion. Fairness, properly considered is an attribute of a process, not an outcome, and it is a cold-blooded attribute as well. Is it fair that a six year die for want of a heart transplant, while another won a coin toss, and is thus spared? Of course it is. Does it suck? Sure. Fairness and compassion are inherently incompatible; compassion sometimes seeking intervention when fairness would be merely heart-rending. This fact makes even more corrosive the common equation of fairness and compassion. No one really wants perfect fairness any more than they want perfect justice. What is the latin maxim for “Sometimes the law sucks?”

The second noxious sentiment is that the result of law is justice. This is, and always has been, wrong. To be clear: justice is simply concerned with the appropriateness of consequences of choices and actions. The natural result of laaw is predictability, and its result may or may not be just. That is why we have written laws, and one of the reasons the concept of precedent was so successful in establishing the common law tradition. If judges were simply to prioritize predictability over outcomes, a free people would figure out how to use that fact to the general advantage. Instead, abominations like the beclowned judge in Kansas City mandating increased school funding, or the ludicrous Kelo decision, or the curious ruling that all wheat affects interstate commerce undermined not so much some constitutional principle, but the predicatability that allows people to manage their own affairs and interactions with one another.

The fact that the fate of the national heathcare system may depend on what Justice Kennedy has for breakfast on a particular day in May, and the lamentable reality that reporting on federal court rulings must contain an obligatory note of which president appointed the judge involved, is evidence mostly of the fact that the judicial system has gained power and lost usefulness. The notion that judges can, by creating law inductively on the idiosyncratic facts of a single case, bind the whole of the society is a parody of serious thought.