Oh, how we fret!  Rightfully, of course, for nothing is more frightening to the American Mind than the specter of overweening authority.  During the second Bush Administration, the Left was beside itself with concern over executive overreach (from the Iraq invasion to the Patriot Act) and now, during the Obama Administration, the Right is beside itself with concerns about usurped power (from the federal minimum wage hike to Immigration amnesty).  It is good to highlight the tendency of Presidents to overstep their constitutional bounds—but emphasizing it risks ignoring a far deeper and more insidious problem: the immense and pernicious power of Administrative Despotism.  While we focus in animated concern upon the head of the snake, we forget the innumerable coils that already surround us.

Read more

Guest Essayist: Paul Schwennesen, southern Arizona rancher and Director of the Agrarian Freedom Project

Summary of Jefferson’s 18th Query[1] on “Manners” (but it’s really about Slavery!)

Thomas Jefferson was a famously polite gentleman. “Manners,” however, has nothing to do with etiquette.  You could be forgiven for giving the chapter a miss, fearing a tedious discussion of odd 18th century habits and norms (“don’t pick fleas in publick,” “put your best foote forward when bowing to a lady,” and so on…) But don’t be fooled, “Manners” contains none of that and skipping it would be a mistake. Read more