('76 Editor) Hearing from Greg Schaller, my CCU professor pal, about an online book club starting up at Redstate.com, I compared their list with mine as compiled a few years back at the suggestion of Kevin Teasley, my school-voucher activist pal. The overlap is interesting, and either list is a needed reminder that we're well repaid by devoting more time to the writings that endure, and less to the ephema of journalism, TV-radio, or blogs (this one included).
So first, here's the read-and-respond shelf recommended by Redstate:
1. A Message to Garcia by Elbert Hubbard
2. Liberal Fascism by Jonah Goldberg
3. Economics in One Lesson by Hazlitt
4. Liberty & Tyranny by Mark Levin
5. The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek
6. The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk
7. Free to Choose by Milton Friedman
8. Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater
9. The Federalist Papers
10. Democracy in America by Tocqueville
11. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
12. God and Man at Yale by W.F. Buckley
13. Witness by Whittaker Chambers
14. The Political Writings of St. Augustine
Then here's my list as put together for Teasley back in 2003. He asked for my "ten best" in terms of books that had the greatest impact on my life. The order in which they are listed is a combination of chronology and categories, not necessarily the most impactful from 1 thru 10. 1. Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy It taught me to love the Bible.
2. The BibleIt engaged me with Jesus Christ. 3. The Everlasting Man, G. K. ChestertonIt grounded me in Christian tradition. 4. Mere Christianity, C. S. LewisIt showed me the beauty of truth.
5. The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry GoldwaterIt awakened me politically.
6. The Law, Frederic BastiatIt was my primer in political economy.
7. The Road to Serfdom, F. A. HayekIt set me against collectivism.
8. Ideas Have Consequences, Richard WeaverIt bonded me to the permanent things.
9. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. TolkienIt convinced me that life is a sacred quest.
10. A Man for All Seasons, Robert BoltIt inspired me with the possibility of heroic integrity.
In looking over the authors on both lists, I'm gratified to have met, or seen in person, Bill Buckley, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, Russell Kirk, Jonah Goldberg, and Barry Goldwater. This is said not to name-drop, but rather to record my sense of obligation for helping to hand on our heritage of faith and freedom to the rising generation of the 21st century, in return for having known -- if only slightly -- some of the giants who handed on that heritage in the 20th century.
Less than two hours after the worst act of terrorism on U.S. soil since 9/11 FBI Director Robert Mueller announced that his investigators were “definitely not discussing terrorism”. Soon after President Obama urged Americans “not to jump to conclusions”. When reporters asked what the President meant by that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had no coherent answer. The initial stories by both the New York Times and the Associated Press gave great prominence to reports that the killer had been “harassed because he was a Muslim”, that he was “dismayed” by U.S. Policies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he was “upset” about the “terrible things” he heard from soldiers returning from the war zone. On the afternoon of the tragedy Americans channel surfing for updates on the massacre found an odd mix of reportage. Chris Matthews of MSNBC offered an impassioned monologue on the “horrible costs of war”. Other commentators amplified this theme of “the soldier as victim”. Shepherd Smith of the much reviled Fox News obtained a live interview with Army Colonial Terry Lee who knew the killer from his time at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington. Colonel Lee related how the killer “seemed pleased” when a Muslim had shot and killed a U.S. Soldier in front of an Army recruiting office in Arkansas, and had also likened Muslim suicide bombers to those soldiers who throw themselves on a grenade to save their buddies. Colonel Lee also stated that any harassment the killer experienced was not because of his Muslim faith but due to expressing these kind of view in the presence of men who had seen friends and fellow soldiers killed in combat. Apparently no other news outlet had been able to find Colonel Lee or any similar purveyors of “an inconvenient truth”. On Friday when it was confirmed that before commencing his slaughter, the killer jumped on a table and shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is Great) the media story line began to shift, but not too much. As soon as they learned that the killer was still alive various commentators began to pose the following weighty questions: “Why was the killer moved from a civilian to a military hospital?” or “Would wide spread prejudice make it difficult for the killer to obtain a fair trial or adequate legal counsel”? or “In light of Guantanamo, should the killer be tried in a civilian or military court? “ or“could a possible death sentence create a martyr and inflame the Muslim world” or “ does the fact that the killer purchased his handguns legally mean we need tougher gun control?” or “Was the Army culpable in failing to prevent this” Perhaps the most bizarre line of inquiry was the assertion that if the killer acted alone and not as part of a conspiracy then the massacre cannot be viewed as an act of terrorism (See, Director Mueller was right!) but rather a case of a “stressed” or “demented” individaul who just “snapped”. This rampant political correctness and willful blindness too facts is not just coming from the loony left like the Huffington Post which initially denied the killer was a Muslim or The Nationwhich denounced any mention of his religion or ethnicity as “Homophobia”, but from mainstream media and public officials who are responsible for the nation's safety. Days after the massacre the N.Y. Times and the Washington Post still insisted the killers“ motives were unclear”. Even when it was known that the killer had praised suicide bombers, declared himself a Palestinian, sought to proselytize his patients, and carefully prepared for his atrocity- even giving away his possession- a Denver Post heading read “Clues Elusive in Killing”, and not a single public official from President Obama on down uttered the word “terrorist” or traitor or made the obvious connection to jihadist fanaticism- the preferred terms offered being “shooter” and “act of violence”. In keeping with the summons and prediction of Obama bin Laden a Muslim fanatic perpetrated the worst act of domestic terrorism since 9/11 but our political leaders abetted by a craven media don't want you to know it, say it or even think it, and if you do “jump to conclusions”-however obvious- you will be called ignorant and bigoted. If the next home grown jihadist gets hold of a chemical, biological, or nuclear weapon, and kills thousands, will the reaction or story line be any different? How many Americans must die before our people in their righteous anger decide its time for a new story line and new leaders to honestly pursue it.
William Moloney is a Centennial Fellow and former Colorado Education Commissioner. His columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, U.S.A. Today, Washington Post, Washington Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun , Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post.
(CCU Faculty) In the landmark abortion case of Roe v Wade, the late Chief Justice Rehnquist (then Associate Justice) wrote a dissent opposing the majority’s opinion that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizure included the right for a woman to have an abortion. Justice Rehnquist was indeed correct in his reading of the Bill of Rights. What Rehnquist did not do, however, was recognize the fundamental right to life of a fetus. In fact, had Rehnquist managed to forge a majority around his interpretation, thus siding with the Texas abortion restrictions, there would have been no prohibition of abortion in America. The issue simply would have been reserved to the individual states to decide for themselves.
Justice Rehnquist, a conservative constitutionalist, refused to find any doctrinal basis on which the United States Constitution was supported. His starting point for judicial review rested solely on whether or not the text of the Constitution explicitly prohibited or prescribed a particular act. Thus the “rightness” of laws for Rehnquist was based entirely on the consensus of the people as expressed in their Constitution.
In the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, Senator Stephen Douglas famously stated: “I don’t care whether slavery is voted up or voted down.” For Douglas, all that mattered was that the will of the people should prevail. The fact that this will might be contrary to the Declaration of Independence’s principle of equality and the natural law rights described by Jefferson was of no concern to Douglas. For Douglas, the consensus of the people determined what was right and wrong.
Tragically, the jurisprudence of the late Chief Justice Rehnquist was no different from the political theory of Senator Douglas. In an article published in 1976 in the Texas Law Review, Rehnquist wrote of his judicial philosophy and his refusal to find any basis for his reasoning beyond the text of the Constitution: “Beyond the Constitution and laws in our society, there is simply no basis other than the individual conscience of the citizen that may serve as a platform for the launching of moral judgments. There is no conceivable way in which I can logically demonstrate to you that the judgments of my conscience are superior to the judgments of your conscience and vice versa.” Rehnquist’s argument is that my opinion on the wrongness of abortion (or slavery) is merely my subjective judgment, certainly not superior to the view that slavery and abortion are right. As such, these “judgments of conscience” must be excluded from our evaluation of the law.
Adherents to a strict constitutionalism that is not grounded in the natural law (The Laws of Nature or Nature’s God), when challenged to explain why one should not have absolute power? over another or why we should respect the life of a fetus, can only point back to the text of the Constitution; and when the text is silent, to whatever the majority will says. Based upon this line of reasoning, the “rightness” of a Constitution or a law rests entirely on the will of the majority (in the case of the Constitution, a super majority). As has been proven too many times in history, the presence of a majority will is no guarantee of that will being “right”.
In his inaugural address, Thomas Jefferson stated that in order for the will of the majority to be right, it must be reasonable. This suggestion leads us to both a conclusion and a question. First, we can conclude that Jefferson believed that the consensus of the majority will may not be right at times, and therefore should not be followed. The question is, should we determine what standard we use in order to define whether the will of the majority is reasonable or not?
Abraham Lincoln relied on the standard that Jefferson and the Founders had established in the Declaration of Independence: All men are created equal and all are entitled to their God-given rights of life and liberty. Reflecting on Jefferson’s text, in 1858 Lincoln stated: “All honor to Jefferson—to the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times.” The Nature law as understood by Lincoln is these truths laid down in the Declaration. These truths are the foundation on which our Constitution is based. Justice Rehnquist failed to recognize these self evident truths. Had he been able to do so, he would have found that even when our Constitution is silent on specifics, a more fundamental law is a source from which we can judge the “rightness” of our laws.
The public record contains the following undisputed data points. What do they add up to? Nothing conspiratorial, for all are from open sources. Nothing conclusive, for the President and his circle behave more like blue-state Democrats than Reds. But certain nothing good. Consider and see what you think:
(1) Frank Marshall Davis, member of the Communist Party (USA), was Obama’s primary mentor as a teenager in Hawaii, which Obama admits in his book “Dreams of My Father.”
(2) Obama always sought out those on the far left: "I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. … Political discussions, the kind at Occidental had once seemed so intense and purposeful, came to take on the flavor of the socialist conferences I sometimes attended at Cooper Union" -Dreams of My Father
(3) Saul Alinsky, member of the Communist Party (USA) was a major influence on Obama. Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals was followed closely by Obama. Alinsky disparages “the white, middle class” in terms which mirror Karl Marx’s attack on the bourgeoisie in the Communist Manifesto. Obama actually taught Alinsky’s methods to other community organizers in Chicago. Alinsky was actually cited by Michelle Obama on the stump in the 2008 election.
(4) Bill Ayers and Bernadette Dorhn, former terrorists with the Weather Underground and the far-left Students for a Democratic Society, have been friends of Obama for years. Obama decided to launch his political career in their home, and the two of them sat together on several boards. Obama’s church is Marxist: "The vision statement of Trinity United Church of Christ is based upon systematized liberation theology" –Trinity United Church of Christ Website
(5) "Obama has had an intimate and long-term association with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)...Chicago ACORN appears to have played a major role in Obama’s political advance... Acorn’s radical agenda sometimes shifts toward “undisguised authoritarian socialism.” -Stanley Kurtz, National Review
(6) Communist Party and other radical Marxist groups endorsed Obama: "Our Party actively supported Obama during the primary election." -Source: Communist Party USA Website "Marxists/Socialists/Communists for Obama... We support Barack Obama because he knows what is best for the people!” Source: Marxists/Socialists/Communists for Obama
(7) Obama’s Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, while jailed in the 1990’s for participating in race riots after the Rodney King verdict, came in contact with people who inspired him. In his own words, “I met all these young radical people of color – I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, ‘This is what I need to be a part of… I spent the next ten years of my life working with a lot of those people I met in jail, trying to be a revolutionary…I was a rowdy nationalist on April 28th, and then the verdicts came down on April 29th. By August, I was a communist.”
(8) Obama’s Energy and Climate Change Czar, Carol Browner, served on the Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which is part of the Socialist International. Her association with the group has since been scrubbed from their website. She was also on the board for George Soros’ Center for American Progress.
(9) White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, told high school students this summer, “…two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse-tung and Mother Teresa…the two people I turn to most…” Mao was responsible for the death of hundreds of millions of people (estimates run from between 70 to 400 million).
(10) Manufacturing Czar Ron Bloom also rejects the free market and praises the tactics of Chairman Mao. “We know that the free market is nonsense. We know that the whole point is to game the system, to beat the market, or at least find someone who will pay you a lot of money because they're convinced that there is a free lunch. We know this is largely about power, that it's an adults only, no limit game. We kind of agree with Mao that political power comes largely from the barrel of a gun.”
How many more communists do we need to find in the current administration before we conclude that something is gravely wrong? What should we expect next? With Mao so much in vogue, perhaps a Cultural Revolution?