The epic cybersecurity fail

A hacker–probably connected to the Chinese government–has hacked into the databases of the Office of Personnel Management, stealing personal records on some 21 million federal employees.  The stolen information includes the results of security clearances, as well as coercion material on people with security clearances, meaning that this is an intelligence disaster.  Nebraska freshman Senator Ben Sasse, perhaps my highest-ranking personal acquaintance, has written perceptively about this in Wired Magazine, no less.  Excerpt and link after the jump.

(HT to Anthony Sacramone, whom you should also read on the subject.) [Read more...]

We now have full diplomatic relations with Cuba

Castro’s flag now flies over the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C., as diplomatic relations were restored between the United States and its Cold War nemesis. [Read more...]

The defection of the state

More from Hermann Sasse, the anti-Nazi theologian, on the death of nations, reflecting on “the deification of the state” and other ways in which governments can “defect” from their true nature and their Romans 13 authority. [Read more...]

Democrats surging to the left–as is the country?

Democrats in Congress voted against the wishes of their own President in in opposing the free trade bill, which has advanced thanks only to Republicans.  Meanwhile, the socialist Bernie Sanders has all but caught up with Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and Iowa, attracting some of the biggest crowds of any candidate so far.

Political columnist Dana Milbank says that President Obama and Hillary Clinton may be “on the wrong side of history” (an old Marxist line often used by the president, the assumption being that “history” is inexorably headed to the socialist utopia).

Mr. Milbank also says that the country itself is trending to the left, out of revulsion for conservatives.  Do you think that is true?  Or would a far-left Democratic platform–assuming Mrs. Clinton goes there to fend off her primary challengers–would be the best hope for a Republican victory? [Read more...]

Supreme Court can’t tell what “legislature” means

Lost in the tumultuous week of Supreme Court rulings over Obamacare and gay marriage was another odd ruling.  To combat gerrymandering, the people of Arizona passed a referendum that would take away the state legislature’s power to draw electoral boundaries and give it instead to a non-partisan commission.  That sounds like a good outcome, since gerrymandering–drawing districts to protect the incumbents–is a plague on democracy.  The problem is, the Constitution explicitly, in so many words, gives that power to the “legislature.”

But not wanting the Constitution to get in the way of their favored policies, the court ruled in favor of the commission.  George Will tells the tale and recounts Chief Justice Robert’s vigorous–if surprising, given his Obamacare ruling–dissent on the necessity of attending to the language of the Constitution. [Read more...]

The Declaration of Independence and natural law

Legal scholar Randy Barnett offer a fascinating section by section reading of the Declaration of Independence, which he says succinctly states the political theory of the American founding.  He summarizes it this way:

  • The rights of individuals do not originate with any government, but pre-exist its formation.
  • The protection of these rights is both the purpose and first duty of government.
  • Even after government is formed, these rights provide a standard by which its performance is measured and, in extreme cases, its systemic failure to protect rights—or its systematic violation of rights—can justify its alteration or abolition.
  • At least some of these rights are so fundamental that they are “inalienable,” meaning they are so intimately connected to one’s nature as a human being that they cannot be transferred to another even if one consents to do so.

But I’d like to draw your attention to his exposition of the first paragraph and his explanation of “The Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”  In quoting a clergyman of the time, he gives a helpful explanation of what we mean by that much-misunderstood concept of “natural law,” as well as showing how that was a fundamental assumption of the American founders. [Read more...]


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