Review of “Liberty and Tyranny” by Mark Levin

If this is the state of conservatism, let’s just make Barack Obama President-for-Life.


Mark Levin writes Liberty and Tyranny in ten chapters plus an epilogue. The chapters primarily dwell on the following themes:

  • A taxonomy of politics
  • The Judiciary
  • The Welfare State
  • Environmentalism
  • Immigration
  • National Defense and Security

One of these meta-chapters, on the Judiciary, is solid. Before his career as a talk show host, Levin was a lawyer, and his expertise here shows. Levin accurately and forcefully attacks the liberal establishment’s assault on the Constitutional framework of government, beginning with the Executive’s seizure of the rule-making and regulatory powers during the New Deal, and contuing through the increasingly activist left-wing judiciary that reached its height under Warren and Berger, and still lingers in too many courts today. The Judiciary’s activism has transformed it into an extra-legal standing constitutional convention, which deprives the the states and the other branches of their constitutional powers and also pre-empts the emergence of actual amendments that could serve to modernize the Constitution.

If Levin stopped here, and limited himself to an attack on the liberal ulema, Liberty and Tyranny would be a must-read book. Indeed, if he would expand this section to book length it would be incredibly useful for conservatives to understand how the Constitution is attacked and subverted.

Unfortunately, Levin does not stop there. The rest of the book conflates his attack on the unconstitutional means of this opponents with legitimate, social ends such opponents may have. He rhetorically divides politics into a two-sided debate between “Liberty” (his views) and “Tyranny” (views held by those who use extra-Constitutional means). This leads to some humorous contradictions, where seemingly anyone who believes the necessary and proper clause exists, or who believes that Article 1 Section 9 of the constitution prohibits a poll tax, are supporters of tyranny.

Another example if Levin’s trouble with math. He castigates supporters of Tyranny (who he calls Statists) for supporting the regulation of harmful chemicals, as many harmful chemicals have only a one-in-a-million chance of causing death each year. This, of course, would sum to something like 300 deaths per annum. However, he criticizes the CAFE standards, which he blames for 2000 extra deaths each year. By this logic, I would assume he supports the regulation of harmful chemicals, as long as at least 8-or-so are bannedm, so they can sum to the CAFE death level (which appears to be his criterea-for-being-a-national-concern).

Many other sections, such as that dealing with national security and defense, are simply non-sensical.

The weakness of Levin’s non-judicial sections, and the nonsensical divsion between Liberty and Tyranny that he pushes, is unfortunate, because his analysis of the judicial state of the United States is solid. Still, as it currently exists, this book should not be read. The America that Levin envisions is poorer, more dangerous, and less seecure than the country we currently live in.

If Mark Levin’s Liberty and Tyranny represents Conservatism, then get me Barack Obama!

Torture and xGW

The writer’s copy of The Handbook of 5GW: A 5th Generation of War? is in limited circulation among the handbook’s contributors, so it’s a good time to highlight an excellent point by Arherring: “XGW and Torture.”

Here’s an excerpt:

4GW Torture:

4GW – Fourth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of the attainment of a functional invulnerability that prevents the opponent from being able to orient upon a threat and creates a perception that saps the ability of the opponent to function effectively.

The use of torture at the fourth gradient is premised upon the creation of a sense of dread of the unknown in the minds of the opponent. Torture becomes a method not just of gathering information, but a weapon of fear. Used as an extreme, the opponent may have a fear of capture by the 4GW actor that prevents the opponent from orienting effectively, always considering most immediately the need to be able to escape rather than the most immediate method to execute their own doctrine. The morality of the use of torture at this gradient is ignored in the necessity of its utility to inspire fear.

5GW Torture:

5GW – Fifth gradient doctrines are based upon the principle of manipulation of the context of the observations of an opponent in order to achieve a specific effect.

Torture at the fifth gradient takes on a different aspect from the use of torture at 0GW and 4GW. At those gradients the negative moral aspect of torture is either irrelevant or used to give torture utility. For 5GW the moral aspect of torture is the most important aspect. In most  (if not all cases) 5GW is a warfare of competing ideas and ideals. At the fifth gradient the least desirable outcome is to have your ideology linked to an overwhelmingly negative meme like torture either  through your own actions, or by the manipulation of an opponent that links torture to your ideology.

A 5GW force is typically one that is too weak to win a competition of ideas and ideals, so I think Arherring’s descriptions of torture in 5GW are besides the point.  In a 5GW, the torture of a single person may be the only violence that is inflicted as part of a subtle, winning campaign.  Likewise, a 4GW campaign may be built on broadcasting an attractive ideology.  Fear may be besides the point.

Still, I like the idea of using xGW as a way to understand torture. I also like the way Arherring lumps together “torture and “enhnaced interrogation techniques.” The difference between them is a legal fiction. You either win or you don’t.  That is, you either lose or you don’t.

Impression of “Tommyknockers” by Stephen King

I finished The Tommyknockers today. The book started slow. Jim Gardner did not strike me as too sympathetic, and I could not wait to hear the narrative from Bobby Anderson’s perspective again. tommyknockers The first “book” inside The Tommyknockers is titled The Ship in the Earth. The first chapter is titled “Anderson stumbles.” This is the first section of the first chapter, in full

For want of a nail the kingdom was lost — that’s how the catechism goes when you boil it down. In the end you can boil everything down to something similar — or so Roberta Anderson thought much later on. It’s either all an accident… or all fate. Anderson literally stumbled over her destiny in the small town of Haven, Maine, on June 21, 1988. The stumble was the root of the matter; all the rest was nothing but history.

The book is a story of betraying your own kind. It is much more sad than it is scary. I read it because of the simularities to “The Colour Out of Space,” but shades of “The Dunwich Horror” and even “At the Mountains of Madness” were also apparent.