Anatomy of the Deep State

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.

During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.

Read more by Mike Lofgren at BillMoyers.com

Why conservatives should hate the Confederate flag

The tragic massacre at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., has re-ignited the debate over the legacy and meaning of the Confederate battle flag, which still flies on the grounds of the state capitol.

I’ll shelve the separate discussion over the relevance of the flag to the motivations of Dylann Roof, the prime suspect in the fatal mass shooting, and focus on a different point: why conservatives should hate the Confederate flag.

The standard argument about the flag goes like this: Critics of the flag say that the flag is a symbol of racism, hatred, violence, treason and slavery, while defenders see it as a harmless symbol of Southern pride, courage, and valor.

I count myself among the critics on this one, but as an advocate of a constitutionally limited federal government that derives power from the states and its people, I have an additional reason to despise the Confederate flag and all it stands for.

Read more by Philip Klein at WashingtonExaminer.com

Anatomy of the Deep State

There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power.

During the last five years, the news media has been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.

Read more by Mike Lofgren at BillMoyers.com

A Libertarian Defense of Lincoln

In libertarian circles, Abraham Lincoln isn’t a president that gets a whole lot of respect. There are a few reasons for this, including:

1. Lincoln illegally suspended habeas corpus, barricaded cities and stretched the limits of executive power well-beyond any measure, even with generous interpretation, that could be granted by the Constitution

2. The Union that emerged from the Civil War was one of much more centralized power and, in many respects, anathema to the vision of the Founders

3. . . .

Read more by Jonathan Blanks at blanksslate.blogspot.com

We have Lincoln wrong: Our greatest Lincoln historian explains his real Civil War motivations

Too often, we settle for the idea that Lincoln fought to save a mythical union. He really fought for opportunity

The United States has just concluded a five-year observance of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. As in the past, most new books about the period have focused principally on matters military, reexamining the familiar major battles or offering new biographies of generals of the war. A few have explored new aspects of Lincoln’s life and presidency and the political conflicts immediately preceding and during the war.

For all the merits of these recent volumes, too few have provided satisfying answers to an essential question: why was the Civil War really fought? This subject still cries out for serious and informed exploration and analysis. The prevailing arguments—that the war occurred to preserve the American Union for its own sake, to defend or destroy slavery, or to expand or restrict federal authority—fall short because they do not embrace the full vision for the future held by those engaged in the conflict. The most illuminating way to begin this essential conversation is to focus on the commander in chief who chose war rather than cede the democracy to those who would divide it rather than recognize its legitimacy. That ever-compelling figure, of course, is Abraham Lincoln.

–SNIP– More than is often realized, the Civil War was fought not over the morality of slavery or the abstract sanctity of the American Union, but over what kind of economy the nation should have. It is difficult to grasp the degree to which the United States, on the eve of the Civil War, had truly evolved into what Lincoln called, quoting scripture, a “house divided”: virtually two separate nations based on very different economic structures. More than anything else, the secession crisis and the Civil War became a clash over expanding the economic and social system of either section. The question became: which economy and society would define the future of America as it migrated westward, that of the North or that of the South?

Excerpted from “A Just and Generous Nation: Abraham Lincoln and the Fight for American Opportunity” by Harold Holzer and Norton Garfinkle.