April 29, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 5:50 PM


Are There Such Things as "Natural" Rights? (HADLEY ARKES,  APRIL 27, 2023, Acton)

It is never out of season to recall James Wilson's line that the purpose of the Constitution was not to invent new rights "by a human establishment," but to secure and enlarge the rights we already have by nature. In radical contrast, the celebrated William Blackstone said in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that when we enter civil society, we give up the unrestricted set of rights we had in the State of Nature, including the "liberty to do mischief." We exchange them for a more diminished set of rights under civil society--call them "civil rights" but they are rendered more secure by the advent of a government that can enforce them. To which Wilson responded, "Is it part of natural liberty to do mischief to anyone?" When did we ever have, as Lincoln would say, a "right to do a wrong"? The laws that restrained us from raping and murdering deprived us of nothing we ever had a "right" to do. And so when the question was asked, What rights do we give up in entering into this government?, the answer tendered by the Federalists was, "None." As Hamilton said in Federalist no. 84, "Here ... the people surrender nothing."

Posted by orrinj at 5:11 PM


Review: "Uncommon Wrath" by Josiah Osgood (Paul Krause, 04/29/202, Merion West)

The fall of the Roman Republic and the following dictatorship of Julius Caesar are likely the most famous events in Roman history. Not even the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 410 A.D. has captured our imagination to the degree of the final decades of the republic, with its panorama of personalities, among the most famous being Julius Caesar and Cato the Younger. In his new book, Uncommon Wrath, the eminent classicist Josiah Osgood retells this story through the unflinching and uncompromising rivalry of Caesar and Cato as their personal competition paralyzed the republic and brought it to civil war.

Once upon a time, Cato the Younger was a name as well known as Caesar's. Dante, in his Divine Comedy, had the virtuous and just Cato guarding the realm of Purgatory as souls prepared their ascent into Paradise. Cato was a mighty influence upon the early modern political theorists, who championed republican government and personal liberty against the monarchies of Europe. George Washington was heavily influenced by the speeches of Cato and Joseph Addison's hagiographic drama, often quoting him to rouse the spirits of his soldiers during the direst moments of the American War of Independence. Today, the libertarian think tank Cato Institute is indirectly named after him, taking its name from Cato's Letters penned by Thomas Gordon and John Trenchard in the early 1720s, which excoriated corruption, the lack of moral virtue in politics, and how corruption and immorality are the stepping stones to tyranny. These were, of course, the exact arguments Cato made during the nadir of the Roman republic.

The formative years for Caesar and Cato were during the days of the Catiline Conspiracy. "The age of Catiline," Osgood reminds his readers, "was an age in which virtually everyone in public life was bent on trying to capture the Republic for himself." The Catiline Conspiracy, which saw the Senator Catiline attempt to seize power himself through a cunning plan of murder, riot, and usurpation, was eventually exposed and put down by Cicero, another of the remarkable and famous figures of that era. But "two men of extraordinary excellence" were also intimately involved in dealing with the Catiline Conspiracy: Caesar and Cato.

These two men, however, were very different. Although both had aristocratic lineages, Caesar was a supporter of the populares, whereas Cato was a stalwart stallion of the optimates. The populares referred to the faction of Roman politicians advocating land reform, increases in welfare (bread) allotment to the poor, and debt forgiveness to the masses. The optimates were conservative defenders of Senatorial prerogative, but men like Cato (and Cicero) constantly warned against the militarization of the masses by populare politicians (like Caesar) and widespread corruption within and without the political system. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:52 PM


Ron DeTedious: DeSantis underwhelms Britain's business chiefs (STEFAN BOSCIA, APRIL 29, 2023, Politico)

He hopes to win the hearts and minds of devoted Donald Trump supporters ahead of next year's U.S. election.

But Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis failed to impress British business chiefs at a high-profile London event Friday, in a tired performance described variously as "horrendous," "low-wattage" and "like the end of an overseas trip."

Posted by orrinj at 7:49 AM


Here Comes 'Transableism' (WESLEY J. SMITH, January 27, 2023, National Review)

Transableism is a relatively new term for what is known as BIID, for "body integrity identity disorder." The point of changing the identifier from a psychiatric condition (BIID) to an advocacy term (transableism) is to harness the stunning cultural power of gender ideology to the cause of allowing doctors to "treat" BIID patients by amputating healthy limbs, snipping spinal cords, or destroying eyesight.

There have already been cases of rogue doctors disabling BIID patients and bioethicists advocating such actions. But now, the idea is beginning to break into the popular media. Canada's National Post just published a story on the coming trend. From "Becoming Disabled by Choice, not Chance:"

"We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment," says Alexandre Baril, a Quebec born academic who will present on "transability" at this week's Congress of the Social Sciences and Humanities at the University of Ottawa. "The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It's a really, really strong desire."

Cutting off healthy body parts not involved with sex is the next logical step after transgenderism: