Design for Liberty: Private Property, Public Administration, and the Rule of Law By Richard A. Epstein (Harvard University Press, 233 pp., $29.95) Richard Epstein is the same as he ever was. Part erudite scholar of Roman law and the common law, part provocative intellectual who promotes a view that he calls “classical liberalism,” Epstein is relentlessly true to himself, and this gives his works a unity of tone and content that both pleases and distresses.
The results of the Iowa caucuses illuminate the basic structure of today’s Republican Party and offer clues about what’s to come between now and the end of January. Pew’s “political typology,” the latest iteration of which appeared last May, provides the best point of departure. That report used a statistical technique known as cluster analysis to identify four major pro-Republican groups: Staunch Conservatives (11 percent of registered voters), Main Street Conservatives (14 percent), Libertarians (10 percent), and “Disaffecteds” (11 percent).
The Iowa caucuses were full of last-minute drama: Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney were vying for the lead all night. At 1:50 a.m., Santorum was ahead by just four votes, with only a single precinct's tally still outstanding. Forty-five minutes later, Romney was back in front by eight votes, thanks to some guidance from a pair of precinct captains named Edith and Carolyn got the vote right.
As GOP chaos continues in Iowa, talk of an upset is increasingly focused on one very unlikely candidate: Ron Paul, the libertarian Congressman with a devoted (and notoriously weird) Internet following. Paul’s positions on any number of issues are well outside the Republican mainstream, so even if he does manage to shake up the Iowa caucuses, he still has virtually no chance of winning the GOP nomination. But how helpful could this Internet following be? According to a 2008 article in Technology Review by David Talbot, Paul’s Internet fan club is a potent but somewhat unfocused force.
On March 29, 1989, at a time when many of his fellow first-year law students were beginning to prepare for the spring semester’s looming examinations, Barack Obama paid a visit to the office of eminent constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe. Obama had not dropped by to brush up for a test. In fact, he had yet even to enroll in an introductory constitutional law course, a gratification Harvard Law School denies its students until the second year of study. Obama’s call was purely extracurricular: He wanted to discuss Tribe’s academic writings.
The one health care proposal Republicans can agree on is to allow insurers to sell health insurance across state lines. Liberals object that this would create a regulatory race to the bottom.
Last fall, Rand Paul briefly caused a stir when he suggested that his libertarian principles would require him to have opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Paul danced around the subject, refusing the let himself be pinned down. Tonight his father and political idol, Ron Paul, appeared on "Hardball" and said, very forthrightly, what his son merely implied: Rand's statements on the law (which he later retracted) came during his first week as the Republican nominee for Senate in Kentucky in 2010.
Here's more evidence that Tea Party Republicans are no more likely than other Republicans to fret about the Patriot Act -- i.e., not likely at all: Much of the reaction to Tuesday's vote not to fast-track some provisions of the Patriot Act has painted it as a victory for the Tea Party (e.g., here, here, here, andhere).