Category: Political Culture

anti-establishment-bernie-sanders-donald-trumpWith Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders outperforming all expectations in the current election cycle, much has been said and written about the widespread dissatisfaction with the so-called “establishment.”

“We’re tired of typical politicians,” they say. “It’s time for real change and real solutions. It’s time to shake up the system!”

Yet, as Jeffrey Tucker points out, blind opposition to the status quo, no matter how bad it may be, is not the same as supporting liberty.

The state power we oppose is not identical to the establishment we reject. You can overthrow the establishment and still be left with a gigantic machinery of legalized exploitation. All the agencies, laws, regulations, and powers are still in place. And now you have a problem: someone else is in charge of the state itself. You might call it a new establishment. It could be even more wicked than the one you swept away.

Indeed, it usually is. Maybe always.

Or, as Peggy Noonan recently wrote, considering the prospect of a completely dismembered GOP: “Something important is ending. It is hard to believe what replaces it will be better.” (more…)

The headline at CNN was surprising: “Under Sanders, income and jobs would soar, economist says”; the opening paragraph of their article even more so:

Median income would soar by more than $22,000. Nearly 26 million jobs would be created. The unemployment rate would fall to 3.8%.

Those are just a few of the things that would happen if Bernie Sanders became president and his ambitious economic program were put into effect, according to an analysis given exclusively to CNNMoney. The first comprehensive look at the impact of all of Sanders’ spending and tax proposals on the economy was done by Gerald Friedman, a University of Massachusetts Amherst economics professor.

Like Sanders, Friedman believes in democratic socialism. He also believes an unlikely series of events could happen: Sanders becomes president (very unlikely), President Sanders is able to push his plan through a GOP-controlled Congress (politically impossible), and then median household income magically rises to $82,200 by 2026 (the current projection by the Congressional Budget Office is that it’ll be around $59,300).

You would expect Republicans and conservatives to mock this type of wishful thinking. But some of the strongest criticism has come from a seemingly unlikely source: liberal economists who once chaired the President’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Alan Krueger of Princeton University, Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago Booth School, and Christina Romer of the University of California at Berkeley all chaired President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers at different times during his administration, while Laura D’Andrea Tyson of the University of California’s Haas School of Business was the chair under President Clinton. The four published a rather scathing open letter to both Sanders and Friedman. Here is the full text of the letter:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, February 1, 2016
By

dont-panicToday is the official start of the primary season, which which means it’s also the time when many people officially shift into political panic mode.

A lot of us are in a panic, fearing that Western civilization — or at least America’s future — is at stake and that something must be done quickly to avert disaster. But what Americans really need is to to heed the advice of Greg Forster: Don’t panic.
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Russell Kirk

Russell Kirk

At The Public Discourse, Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg reviews Bradley J. Birzer’s new book Russell Kirk: American Conservative. The book, Gregg writes, amply shows how “Kirk’s broad scope of interests was matched by genuine erudition that enabled him to see the connections between, for instance, culture and American foreign policy, or the significance of moral philosophy for one’s commitments in the realm of political economy.” More from Gregg:

The picture of the American conservative moment that emerges from this book is one characterized by surprisingly deep fractures that, in many respects, have never been resolved. Some may be beyond resolution. This makes it all the more ironic that one of the most revealing aspects of Birzer’s book is the degree to which Kirk worked with and even promoted people with whom he had intellectual disagreements.

Traditionalists may be surprised, for example, to learn just how much Kirk admired Leo Strauss’s thinking. “Even as late as 1990,” Birzer writes, “on the eve of an implosion of even a semblance of unity within intellectual conservatism, Kirk continued to praise Strauss.” Kirk was particularly taken with Strauss’s conception of natural rights. Certainly, the two men disagreed in their interpretation of Burke, and Kirk strongly disapproved of some of Strauss’s followers. None of this, however, impaired what Birzer describes as the positive influence exerted by Strauss on Kirk’s thought.

Other friendships developed by Kirk with figures such as the sociologist Robert Nisbet, the novelist Flannery O’Connor, and the political philosopher Eric Voegelin were characterized by a similar pattern: affirmation of many points in common and recognition of a mutual seriousness of purpose, accompanied by clear but civil disagreement about other important issues.

Read “A Conservative’s Odyssey: Russell Kirk and Twentieth-Century American Conservatism” by Samuel Gregg at The Public Discourse.

Also see “Inside the Conservative Mind,” Religion & Liberty’s interview with Bradley Birzer in the Summer/Fall 2014 issue.

Fox TV is prepping for a Jan. 25 release of a new show titled “Lucifer,” where “bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, the original fallen angel, Lucifer Morningstar has abandoned his throne and retired to L.A., where he owns Lux, an upscale nightclub.” Fox adds helpfully, “He’s no angel.”

A report by Barbara Hollingsworth on CNSNews.com notes that “a number of faith-based and conservative watchdog groups are panning Lucifer.” Among others, she interviewed Rev. Robert A. Sirico, president and co-founder of the Acton Institute:

“The very fact that it could be on a major network without serious questions being raised with regard to advertisers and the like tells you where the culture has gone, to a certain extent,” Fr. Robert Sirico … told CNSNews.com. “I urge believers to be calm, because part of the marketing strategy of these companies is to incorporate the kind of opposition they can get from believers who would find this offensive and thus call more attention to the project.

“The second caution is that this show seems rather superficial with its constant use of one gag about the devil. It doesn’t seem like it’s a serious reflection on evil, on the capacity of human beings to betray their highest values.

“I’m reminded of what C.S. Lewis puts in the words of his devil in the Screwtape Letters, that the real danger in confrontation with evil and the world is when people don’t believe that there is evil. So I don’t think we’ve hit the bottom quite yet, because at least they’re talking about things spiritual,” Sirico said.

Read “Nothing Redeeming’ About New Fox TV SeriesThat Glamorizes Satan” by Barbara Hollingsworth on CNSNews.com.

Kirk_BookThis week on Radio Free Acton, we’re joined by Bradley J. Birzer, the Russell Amos Kirk Chair of American Studies and Professor of History at Hillsdale College, and the author of a new biography of the founding father of the American conservative movement, Russell Kirk. Birzer’s book, Russell Kirk: American Conservative, examines the life and thought of Kirk, the means he used to build a conservative Christian humanist movement, and examines Kirk’s influence on conservative leaders who followed.

We at the Acton Institute are great admirers of Kirk, and were greatly blessed to have him serve as a member of our first advisory board at the time of Acton’s founding. We were also honored to host what would be Kirk’s final lecture before his passing in 1994 as part of our Lord Acton Lecture Series. I’ll post that after the jump, along with another gem from Acton’s archives: Kirk’s introduction of his good friend William F. Buckley, Jr. at Acton’s first anniversary dinner, held in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1991, which showcased the great man’s sharp wit and fun-loving spirit.

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Fox News anchor Shepherd Smith in the studio

Yesterday at The Federalist, I examined the claims of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz during last week’s GOP primary debate that the “mainstream media” is dominated by “liberal bias.”

While there is some truth to this claim, as I point out in my article, the data paints a more complicated picture: Conservative outlets such as Fox News and (editorially) the Wall Street Journal outperform the closest left-leaning ones, CNN and the New York Times, by wide margins.

I write,

It would be fair to counter that cable news is not the only source on television, and not even the most-watched. Fox has no evening news like ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS. The fact that, according to a recent study by the American Press Institute, “Democrats are more trusting of news from the three broadcast networks and the newswires, while Republicans are more trusting of news from cable” suggests the slant there tends to favor the Left.

However, people divide their news consumption today between mediums. That same study notes, “The 24-hour cable channels … are the source most often cited for four of the topics probed: politics, international news, business and the economy, and social issues.” So when it comes to political issues, the most common source, 24-hour cable news, is fairly evenly divided: Fox News generally has a Nielsen rating about equal to CNN’s and MSNBC’s combined.

A bit later on, I return to this point: (more…)