Theodore Roosevelt’s remarkable life started 163 years ago in New York City, making him one of the few presidents to be born and raised in a major American city. He overcame childhood asthma with vigorous exercise and began his political career as a crusading reform Republican in the New York Legislature. The death of his first wife drove him to the North Dakota badlands, where his courage and stamina were forged in the crucible of the Old West. Even there, Roosevelt continued his habit of reading a book a day to stimulate his mind as well. Returning to New York, he became New York City Police Commissioner and worked to clean up the corruption in the department. His leadership and bravery with the Rough Riders propelled a political career and philosophy of national service that is a model for us in these difficult days.
In short, TR was a badass not just in his behavior, but also in his challenging and visionary leadership in public policy. Let us all remember him on this day and strive to hold our current leaders to the same level of courage and national commitment on behalf of America!
The forever war in Iraq is now close to officially ending. A bipartisan bill to repeal both the 1991 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF) has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and may have the 60 votes necessary to pass the Senate. The bill has previously passed the House. Now we must repeal the 2001 AUMF that authorized not just the war in Afghanistan, but also the ill-conceived “War on Terror” that spawned American military interventions across the globe.
Chinese Purchase of American Farms
This article from the American Conservative magazine tells how the Chinese are taking advantage of the decline of the family farm to buy up American farmland and agricultural assets. It is one more example of the monopolization of our food production. A bill has been filed in Congress to stop any further sales of farmland to China and prohibit currently-owned Chinese farms from receiving farm subsidies. It should be passed as soon as possible.
Wall Street’s Buying up of Single Family Homes
The owner-occupied home has been the bedrock of the American family for generations. However, Wall Street investment firms are now using their financial clout to buy up single-family homes as rental properties. It is one of the drivers of high home prices. We should be using our antitrust and federal tax laws to discourage their use of financial market power to monopolize the American Dream.
Prof. Stephen Walt of Harvard University is a leading advocate of the realist theory of international relations that I believe should replace liberal hegemony as the basis for our foreign policy (see this post). Here he gives faint praise to nationalism for its natural ability to unify societies to face challenges like the pandemic. Maybe he had to temper his support to avoid problems with his globalist colleagues.
This country will not be a permanently good place for any of us to live in unless we make it reasonably good place for all of us to live in.
A federal district court in Houston has struck down the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and its companion for parents of those children. Specifically, it held that the program was an administrative rule making required to follow the notice and comment process of the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The failure of the Obama Administration to follow this process rendered the program illegal. CNN helpfully included a copy of the Order and Opinion of the court here. The decision is not only a step towards effective immigration reform, but also strikes a blow against the power of the administrative state.
The court essentially took up the issues ignored in the US Supreme Court’s Regents of the University of California opinion that I previously discussed here. This decision struck down the attempted rescission of the DACA program by the Trump Administration as itself violating the APA while glossing over the illegalities in the original rulemaking. This new federal court opinion turns the tables and focuses on those infirmities, noting that the Supreme Court itself held that DACA was not simply a passive non-enforcement policy. Instead, it conferred affirmative immigration relief such as the right to receive a work permit and the right to travel abroad without permission. It did so despite admitting in the original memorandum that only the Congress could confer affirmative immigration relief. The district court’s opinion built on Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the Regents opinion by highlighting the real reason for the program – the inability of successive Presidents to unite the Congress and country around an immigration bill that included effective limits and enforcement as well as the necessary relief for longtime residents.
The district court was mindful of the hardships an immediate cessation of the program would cause to current participants and simply prohibited further expansion of the program for the time being. The Biden Administration has announced that it will appeal the order and urged Congress to pass a bill fixing the problem. The administration’s latter position is correct. Both political parties need to look beyond the twin corruptions of identity politics and corporate contributions to pass a comprehensive immigration reform legalizing the status of the “Dreamers” and creating real enforceable limits on future immigration as I advocated in this post. A truly comprehensive answer to the immigration crisis would be a new beginning for insuring the American Dream for both lifetime citizens and immigrants alike.