American Elephants


Pro-American Calls to Return to First Principles by The Elephant's Child

In the wake of so much good news for the economy, you might find Myron Magnet’s article in City Journal from last January 31, 2018, on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address interesting. It resounded, he said, with calls to return to first principles. So perhaps all those journalists who have been carping and criticizing for the entire past year, either didn’t listen or simply did not hear what Myron Magnet did – a year ago.

What I heard above all in President Trump’s moving, presidential, and authentically American State of the Union speech was a Hamiltonian assurance that, in America, no matter where you come from—like the brilliant illegitimate immigrant from Nevis who became our first Treasury secretary—“If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything.” And that’s because in America our motto is ‘in God we trust’”—the God who guarantees, as the Declaration of Independence assures us, that we all have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, the right to work out our own fate, according to our own lights. That individual right precedes government; government exists to protect it. There was something revolutionary, with a spark of a new birth of freedom, in Trump’s assertion that “In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life.” How anti-Progressive! How anti-New Deal!

Myron Magnet is City Journal’s editor-at-large, a recipient of  the National Humanities Medal. His latest book is The Founders at Home



Americans Want Their Self Government Back, And They Want it Now! by The Elephant's Child

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There was a time, not too long ago, when news was conveyed largely by radio, newspapers, and magazines. Television added several channels and commentators who became celebrities because they kept us in touch with the world, and we trusted them. TV added more channels and cable, reality shows, and we began to trust them a little less. With the advent of the computer and cell phones and hundreds  of online magazines, not to mention blogs — newspapers are dying, though many are still alive online, and our trust is largely gone.

A common photograph of kids today is of a group, each intent on their own cell phone and social media, mostly unaware of what is going on around them. Roving reporters with microphone and recorder try to find out what the man-in-the-street knows about history, politics, or current events. The answer, uniformly, is not much of anything.  Response on college campuses is equally embarrassing.

So we are deep in “the information age” and nobody knows much  of anything.

The continuing question is “Why Are Voters So Angry?” most recently answered by Myron Magnet, editor-at-large at City Journal. He says firmly that the people want their self-government back.

Haunting this year’s presidential contest is the sense that the U.S. government no longer belongs to the people and no longer represents them. And this uneasy feeling is not misplaced. It reflects the real state of affairs.

We have lost the government we learned about in civics class, with its democratic election of representatives to do the voters’ will in framing laws, which the president vows to execute faithfully, unless the Supreme Court rules them unconstitutional. That small government of limited powers that the Founders designed, hedged with checks and balances, hasn’t operated for a century. All its parts still have their old names and appear to be carrying out their old functions. But in fact, a Nnew kind of government has grown up inside the old structure, like those parasites hatched in another organism that grow by eating up their host from within, until the adult creature bursts out of the host’s carcass. This transformation is not an evolution but a usurpation.

What has now largely displaced the Founders’ government is what’s called the Administrative State—a transformation premeditated by its main architect, Woodrow Wilson. The thin-skinned, self-righteous college-professor president, who thought himself enlightened far beyond the citizenry, dismissed the Declaration of Independence’s inalienable rights as so much outmoded “nonsense,” and he rejected the Founders’ clunky constitutional machinery as obsolete. (See “It’s Not Your Founding Fathers’ Republic Any More,” Summer 2014.) What a modern country needed, he said, was a “living constitution” that would keep pace with the fast-changing times by continual, Darwinian adaptation, as he called it, effected by federal courts acting as a permanent constitutional convention.
…………………..(Do read the whole thing, it’s rewarding)

When did you start to get ticked off? When they took away your lightbulbs and made you buy those twisty things?  Or was it when you read about the EPA case against the Sacketts who started to build their dream home on the shores of Priest Lake in Northern Idaho, and the EPA charged them with building  in a wetland and charged them a $37,500 fine for each day they hadn’t restored the property to it’s original condition? Or was it the orange river from the Gold King Mine Disaster? ObamaCare, and you found out you couldn’t keep your doctor after all? Or when you found out that veterans were dying while they waited to get an appointment at the VA? Or the scandals at the IRS, HHS, ICE, DOJ, or was it the terrorist attacks for which Obama couldn’t find the motive, and couldn’t call it anything behind “violent extremism.” Or was it just political correctness in general?

Here’s Professor Richard A. Epstein on “The Perils of Executive Power.

Steven Hayward sums it all up with one paragraph from a 1994  Harvard Law Review article The Rise and Rise of the Administrative State“.

Philip Wallach from Cato Unbound: “Questioning the Administrative State

From the Wall Street Journal: “Obama’s Age of Discord




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