Liberal Fascism | Jonah Goldberg (C-SPAN 2008)

Jonah Goldberg talked about his book Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning, published by Doubleday. In his book he explores the political theories of fascism and contends that there are several colloaries between the politics of the left and fascist ideology. He responded to questions from members of the audience.

“Never Before” Mantra about the 47-Republicans Letter…

Via NewsBusters:

…”The idea that this is unprecedented or new is preposterous. The only thing wrong with the letter is it should have come EARLIER and should have included references to IRAN and AL QAEDA.“… (emphasis added)

Vice President Biden said this about the letter to Iran signed by 47 Republican senators:

“In 36 years in the United States Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators intervened in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy.” 

Before continuing with The Weekly Standard article, consider this via Forbes:

Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”

Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.

Kennedy’s motives? “Like other rational people,” the memorandum explained, “[Kennedy] is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations.” But that high-minded concern represented only one of Kennedy’s motives.

“Tunney remarked that the senator wants to run for president in 1988,” the memorandum continued. “Kennedy does not discount that during the 1984 campaign, the Democratic Party may officially turn to him to lead the fight against the Republicans and elect their candidate president.”

…read it all…

Now, let’s add some items of interest to the above by continuing with TWS article:

But in fact, a number of U.S. senators, including then-Senator and now Secretary of State John Kerry, have contacted unfriendly governments, in opposition to the policies of the White House at the time.

Senator James Abourezk (D-South Dakota) secretly met with Palestine Liberation Organization chairman Yasser Arafat in 1973, and arranged for Adlai Stevenson III (D-Illinois) to do likewise. This violated both American government policy and U.S. law, which prohibited such contacts because of the PLO’s involvement in terrorism and refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

In December 1979, Sen. Abourezk undertook a secret trip to Tehran, at the behest of his colleague Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Massachusetts). The Iran hostage crisis was generating public sympathy for President Jimmy Carter, making it difficult for Kennedy to gain traction in his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Kennedy hoped Abourezk, an Arab-American, could negotiate a release of the hostages, and thus deprive Carter of the political advantage.

The episode became public only in 1986, when congressional candidate Joseph (son of RFK) Kennedy rejected a $100 contribution from Abourezk, because of the latter’s extreme animus toward Israel. Abourezk took revenge by writing Kennedy a letter — and making it public — in which he announced, “I risked my life and my career” by going to Tehran in response to a request from Sen. Ted Kennedy. The request was conveyed by Kennedy aide Jan Kalicki, former JFK aide Theodore Sorensen, and Kennedy’s close colleague, Sen. John Culver (D-Iowa). Abourezk explained to the Los Angeles Times that he did not speak directly to Sen. Kennedy, in order “to give him an element of deniability.”

Sen. Kennedy himself was no stranger to the world of friendly contacts with hostile governments. In 1991, a London Times reporter combing through newly released Soviet archives found an internal KGB memorandum reporting a remarkable communication to the Soviet leadership from Kennedy, via his close friend ex-Sen. John Tunney, in May 1984.

According to the memo, Kennedy proposed to visit Moscow in order to help Soviet leaders craft more effective “explanations” to use against the Reagan administration concerning nuclear disarmament issues. He also offered to arrange U.S. television appearances for Soviet Premier Yuri Andropov to make a “direct appeal” to the American people that would undermine the administration. Kennedy evidently hoped these efforts would increase the Democrats’ chances of retaking the White House that year.

Senator Charles Percy (R-Illinois) had a Moscow connection of his own. In November 1980, he traveled to the USSR for private meetings with then-Premier Leonid Brezhnev, Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, and Defense Minister Dmitri Ustinov. During the talks, Percy advocated the creation of a Palestinian state headed by Soviet client Arafat — essentially taking the Soviet position, as against the position of both the outgoing Carter administration and the incoming Reagan administration.

Percy’s remarks were reported to Washington by the American ambassador in Moscow, Thomas Watson. What Percy said so alarmed U.S. officials that one of them leaked Watson’s classified cables to the New York Times.

“Arafat has a compelling desire to be a chief of state, no matter how small it is,” Percy said in Moscow, according to the cables. “He is a terrorist, he has done same dastardly things; but he is a fact of life, he exists.” His Soviet interlocutors must have been very pleased.

Each of these contacts was shrouded in secrecy, arguably a far more serious undermining of the executive branch than this week’s Iran letter, which was crafted as an open, public letter, not a private communication to any particular Iranian leader. At least nobody at the White House can accuse of the 47 GOP senators of going behind the president’s back.

And while the 47 Republicans merely issued a public statement, some other senators have gone the extra mile by visiting hostile capitals in opposition to U.S. policy.

In 1985, for example, then-freshman Senator John Kerry traveled to Nicaragua for a friendly get-together with the Sandinista president, Daniel Ortega. The position of the Reagan administration was to support the opposition Contras. Kerry wasn’t much interested in the administration’s position. Upon his return to the United States, Kerry met with President Reagan to convey a message from Ortega. Reagan “wasn’t thrilled,” Kerry later told the New York Times. This week, it’s Kerry’s turn to be less than thrilled.

In late 2006, Democratic senators Kerry, Chris Dodd (Connecticut), and Bill Nelson (Florida), as well as one Republican who later became a Democrat, Arlen Specter (Pennsylvania), traveled to Damascus. That is, at a time when the policy of the Bush administration was to isolate the Bashar Assad regime because of its aggression in Lebanon support for terrorism, the senators decided to show their support for renewed U.S. relations with Syria…

…read both pages (one and two)…

One should take note as well that like Goldberg said, the letter didn’t go far enough, here is National Review on the matter:

Time for a primer on international agreements, thanks to the controversy over Senator Tom Cotton’s letter to Iran.

Joined by almost all Republican senators, the missive warned Tehran that any nuclear deal with President Obama would not last unless it went to Congress for approval:

★ We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

As a description of American constitutional law, Senator Cotton has it exactly right. It was as if he were just informing Iran about the text of the Constitution. There are three types of international agreements under U.S. law:

a. Treaties: These require two-thirds of the Senate for approval. The U.S. has generally used treaties for the most serious commitments of American sovereignty, such as alliances and arms control.
b. Congressional-Executive agreements: These require approval by the House and the Senate. Although unmentioned in the Constitution, they are nothing more than regular laws passed by Congress. These have been used for deals such as trade agreements.
c. Sole executive agreements: These are made by the president alone. They are constitutional only because they represent promises by the president on how to exercise his constitutional power.

The Cotton letter is right, because if President Obama strikes a nuclear deal with Iran using only instrument (c), he is only committing to refrain from exercising his executive power — i.e., by not attacking Iran or by lifting sanctions under power delegated by Congress. Not only could the next president terminate the agreement; Obama himself could terminate the deal.

In fact, the Cotton letter could have gone farther and pointed out that Obama may make promises that he cannot keep. Since a sole executive agreement is only a commitment for the use of the executive’s authority, it cannot make promises about Congress. Under the Constitution’s Foreign Commerce Clause, only Congress has the authority to impose international economic sanctions….

…read it all…

Thin-Skinned Over the Redskins ~ Warnings of Government Overreach

I am going to start this post with a very STRONGLY WORDED rant on the asinine political correctness found on the professional Left. Again, language warning, but you should be just as flabbergasted as these men (via The Blaze):

Jonathan Turley (via The Washington Post) gets into the mix in his now patented warning from the left about the excesses of government size, growth, and overreach. Some of which I have noted in the past here. But here is the column from which Dennis Prager touches on, and Goldberg’s will follow:

…It didn’t matter to the patent office that polls show substantial majorities of the public and the Native American community do not find the name offensive. A 2004 Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans said the name didn’t bother them. Instead, the board focused on a 1993 resolution adopted by the National Congress of American Indians denouncing the name. The board simply extrapolated that, since the National Congress represented about 30 percent of Native Americans, one out of every three Native Americans found it offensive. “Thirty percent is without doubt a substantial composite,” the board wrote.

Politicians rejoiced in the government intervention, which had an immediate symbolic impact. As Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) said Wednesday: “You want to ignore millions of Native Americans? Well, it’s pretty hard to say the federal government doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they say it’s disparaging.”

For the Washington Redskins, there may be years of appeals, and pending a final decision, the trademarks will remain enforceable. But if the ruling stands, it will threaten billions of dollars in merchandizing and sponsorship profits for NFL teams, which share revenue. Redskins owner Dan Snyder would have to yield or slowly succumb to death by a thousand infringement paper cuts.

The patent office opinion also seems to leave the future of trademarks largely dependent on whether groups file challenges. Currently trademarked slogans such as “Uppity Negro” and “You Can’t Make A Housewife Out Of A Whore” could lose their protections, despite the social and political meaning they hold for their creators. We could see organizations struggle to recast themselves so they are less likely to attract the ire of litigious groups — the way Carthage College changed its sports teams’ nickname from Redmen to Red Men and the California State University at Stanislaus Warriors dropped their Native American mascot and logo in favor of the Roman warrior Titus. It appears Fighting Romans are not offensive, but Fighting Sioux are.

As federal agencies have grown in size and scope, they have increasingly viewed their regulatory functions as powers to reward or punish citizens and groups. The Internal Revenue Service offers another good example. Like the patent office, it was created for a relatively narrow function: tax collection. Yet the agency also determines which groups don’t have to pay taxes. Historically, the IRS adopted a neutral rule that avoided not-for-profit determinations based on the content of organizations’ beliefs and practices. Then, in 1970, came the Bob Jones University case. The IRS withdrew the tax-exempt status from the religious institution because of its rule against interracial dating on campus. The Supreme Court affirmed in 1983 that the IRS could yank tax exemption whenever it decided that an organization is behaving “contrary to established public policy” — whatever that public policy may be. Bob Jones had to choose between financial ruin and conforming its religious practices. It did the latter.

There is an obvious problem when the sanctioning of free exercise of religion or speech becomes a matter of discretionary agency action. And it goes beyond trademarks and taxes. Consider the Federal Election Commission’s claim of authority to sit in judgment of whether a film is a prohibited “electioneering communication.” While the anti-George W. Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11” was not treated as such in 2004, the anti-Clinton “Hillary: The Movie” was barred by the FEC in 2008. The agency appeared Caesar-like in its approval and disapproval — authority that was curtailed in 2010 by the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.

Even water has become a vehicle for federal agency overreach. Recently, the Obama administration took punitive agency action against Washington state and Colorado for legalizing marijuana possession and sales. While the administration said it would not enforce criminal drug laws against marijuana growers — gaining points among the increasing number of citizens who support legalization and the right of states to pass such laws — it used a little-known agency, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, to cut off water to those farms. The Bureau of Reclamation was created as a neutral supplier of water and a manager of water projects out West, not an agency that would open or close a valve to punish noncompliant states….

…read it all…

Here is the article from The National Review — in part — that has Jonah Goldberg likewise raising alarm about the bureaucracy that Turley speaks to in the above article.

…Now, I don’t believe we are becoming anything like 1930s Russia, never mind a real-life 1984. But this idea that bureaucrats — very broadly defined — can become their own class bent on protecting their interests at the expense of the public seems not only plausible but obviously true.

The evidence is everywhere. Every day it seems there’s another story about teachers’ unions using their stranglehold on public schools to reward themselves at the expense of children. School-choice programs and even public charter schools are under vicious attack, not because they are bad at educating children but because they’re good at it. Specifically, they are good at it because they don’t have to abide by rules aimed at protecting government workers at the expense of students.

The Veterans Affairs scandal can be boiled down to the fact that VA employees are the agency’s most important constituency. The Phoenix VA health-care system created secret waiting lists where patients languished and even died, while the administrator paid out almost $10 million in bonuses to VA employees over the last three years.

Working for the federal government simply isn’t like working for the private sector. Government employees are essentially unfireable. In the private sector, people lose their jobs for incompetence, redundancy, or obsolescence all the time. In government, these concepts are virtually meaningless. From a 2011 USA Today article: “Death — rather than poor performance, misconduct or layoffs — is the primary threat to job security at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Office of Management and Budget and a dozen other federal operations.”

In 2010, the 168,000 federal workers in Washington, D.C. — who are quite well compensated — had a job-security rate of 99.74 percent. A HUD spokesman told USA Today that “his department’s low dismissal rate — providing a 99.85 percent job security rate for employees — shows a skilled and committed workforce.”

Uh huh.

Obviously, economic self-interest isn’t the only motivation. Bureaucrats no doubt sincerely believe that government is a wonderful thing and that it should be empowered to do ever more wonderful things. No doubt that is why the EPA has taken it upon itself to rewrite American energy policy without so much as a “by your leave” to Congress.

The Democratic party today is, quite simply, the party of government and the natural home of the managerial class. It is no accident, as the Marxists say, that the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents the IRS, gave 94 percent of its political donations during the 2012 election cycle to Democratic candidates openly at war with the Tea Party — the same group singled out by Lois Lerner. The American Federation of Government Employees, which represents the VA, gave 97 percent of its donations to Democrats at the national level and 100 percent to Democrats at the state level…

…read it all…

“3801 Lancaster” | Politicizing When Life Begins

I have written extensively on this topic of Margaret Sanger’s goals, which you see some well known pro-life people (like Alveda King, Martin Luther King’s niece) speaking against. And it is true that hair salons are more regulated than any, yes ANY, abortion clinic.

Here is CNN’s single report if you are not in the loop:

Here is the key ideas in the horrific case discussed on Special Report’s panel discussion, and one must note that when Obama was a Senator, he voted to make these actions legal!

Kirsten Powers’ article , “We’ve forgotten what belongs on Page One,” is a great example of a rational Democrat coming to terms with this.

Trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell reveals ‘a house of horrors’

It was a scene the Philadelphia District Attorney called “a house of horrors.” A warning to readers, some of the details in this story are gruesome.

West Philadelphia doctor Kermit Gosnell is on trial for running an abortion clinic in which he allegedly killed babies who had survived illegal, late-term abortions, and where a woman allegedly died of a botched painkiller injection.

“The evidence is certainly compelling,” said The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Joseph Slobodzian. Slobodzian has been in the courtroom every day of the trial.

“There are any number of witnesses, most of them former employees of Dr. Gosnell’s clinic, who say they saw late-term abortions being done, they saw fetuses, babies, that were moving, breathing after the procedure, and those babies were killed,” said Slobodzian.

Gosnell is maintaining his innocence and says he was helping his community, despite the fact that his employees are coming out against him.

“Kermit Gosnell comes from a very well-established family in West Philadelphia,” said Slobodzian, adding that Gosnell went to the University of Pennsylvania, transferred to Dickenson College for his Bachelor’s degree, received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical School, and then came home to begin working in the community.

“He until these charges had what is considered a pretty good reputation in the community,” said Slobodzian. “Then in 1979 opened his Women’s Medical Society clinic at 38th and Lancaster … and then sometime during the ’70s he began doing abortions.”

District Attorney Seth Williams described the clinic and Gosnell at length in the grand jury testimony.

“This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy — and then murdered these newborns. … The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels — and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths,” reads the grand jury report.

A National Abortion Federation official who visited Gosnell’s office said, “It was the worst clinic she had ever seen,” but she never told the authorities about it. Patients were regularly misled, according to a documentary on the Gosnell case, “3801 Lancaster.”

“When I got pregnant again, I went to the clinic and I asked them, I said, ‘Is it okay that I get another abortion?’ ‘Fine, fine.’ They even, like, had this woman sit down with me and she told me women in Brazil have at least 21 abortions,” said one of the patients of the clinic in the documentary. “After she had coached me into believing that that was the norm, I would say within the next 14 years, like within that time I had eight abortions. Eight.”

The details about some of the late-term abortions performed at the clinic are shocking.

“It’s pretty grim, it’s pretty grim in the courtroom,” said Slobodzian, speaking about his personal reaction to covering the trial, adding that each day he tries to cover the human emotion on display at the trial, as well as the facts and the information.

“But I have to tell you, I certainly don’t hope I cover a trial like this again.”

Susan Rice the White Houses `Fall-Guy`? ~ President Still Holds To This False Narrative

This narrative all but collapsing have caused some to wonder if the White House used Susan Rice as a fall-girl. Her responses over last weekend were likened to “borderline ignorance,” and the President — as of yesterday — is holding to this false narrative. Gateway Pundit comments on this dilemma:

Sorry, Barack… Only a useful idiot would think the violent mobs storming embassies was a “natural” reaction to an offensive video.

The Daily Caller reported:

President Barack Obama said he thinks Muslim protests against Western criticism of Islam are “natural.”

“The natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests,” Obama said during an hour-long town-hall interview on the Spanish-language Univision channel.

Obama did not use the interview to champion the right of Americans to speak freely amid criticism and threats from Islamic advocates.

He did briefly mention free-speech, saying that democracy also includes “looking out for minority rights… respecting freedom of speech… [and] treating women fairly.”

Our Representative, Buck McKeon (the 25th district), gives his own 2-cents on the matter, and nails it:

HotAir also points out the waste of taxpayer monies in trying to dissuade these protests.Something that will not happen… that is… the dissuasion of violence in Islam:

….What you’re about to see is, essentially, an official statement of patriotic disapproval, not from the Defense Department but from State. They’re spending $70,000 to air this on Pakistani television in the naive hope that the lunatics who were throwing rocks at the embassy in Islamabad this morning and who are planning massive — and state-sanctioned — “protests” tomorrow might be placated. It’s a hostage video, with American diplomats in Pakistan and American soldiers in Afghanistan as the hostages. And, as always when the government strains to show respect for Islam, there’s nothing genuinely respectful about it. The thought of Hillary cutting a video like this for the Israeli market in response to some U.S. citizen’s anti-semitic propaganda because she “respects” Judaism is unimaginable. The motive here is fear, not respect. And bizarrely, the embassy seems proud enough of it that it’s willing to advertise this clip on its own Facebook page….

…read more…

Pat Condell also points out the bottom line, in his patented way:

Prager University: Jonah Goldberg on Ideology

According to popular myth, if you hold conservative political views, you’re a rigid ideologue, unwilling to compromise. But if you hold liberal political views, you’re practical and open minded. Best selling author, Jonah Goldberg, explains how this myth got started and why it’s wrong in this Prager University course.

Top-Five Liberal Cliches

Washington Post’s Jonah Goldberg Article on Top 5 Liberal Cliches

‘Diversity is strength’

Affirmative action used to be defended on the grounds that certain groups, particularly African Americans, are entitled to extra help because of the horrible legacy of slavery and institutionalized racism. Whatever objections opponents may raise to that claim, it’s a legitimate moral argument.

But that argument has been abandoned in recent years and replaced with a far less plausible and far more ideological claim: that enforced diversity is a permanent necessity. Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, famously declared: “Diversity is not merely a desirable addition to a well-run education. It is as essential as the study of the Middle Ages, of international politics and of Shakespeare.”

It’s a nice thought. But consider some of the great minds of human history, and it’s striking how few were educated in a diverse environment. Newton, Galileo and Einstein had little exposure to Asians or Africans. The genius of Aristotle, Socrates and Plato cannot be easily correlated with the number of non-Greeks with whom they chatted in the town square. If diversity is essential to education, let us get to work dismantling historically black and women’s colleges. When I visit campuses, it’s common to see black and white students eating, studying and socializing separately. This is rounding out everyone’s education?

Similarly, we’re constantly told that communities are strengthened by diversity, but liberal Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam has found the opposite. In a survey that included interviews with more than 30,000people, Putnam discovered that as a community becomes more ethnically and socially varied, social trust and civic engagement plummet. Perhaps forced diversity makes sense, but liberals make little effort to prove it.

‘Violence never solved anything’

It’s a nice idea, but it’s manifestly absurd. If violence never solved anything, police would not have guns or nightsticks. Obama helped solve the problem of Moammar Gaddafi with violence, and FDR helped solve the problem — far too late — of the Holocaust and Hitler with violence. Invariably, the slogan (or its close cousin “War is not the answer”) is invoked not as a blanket exhortation against violence, but as a narrow injunction against the United States, NATO or Republican presidents from trying to solve threats of violence with violence.

‘The living Constitution’

It is dogma among liberals that sophisticated people understand that the Constitution is a “living, breathing document.” The idea was largely introduced into the political bloodstream by Woodrow Wilson and his allies, who were desperate to be free of the constraints of the founders’ vision. Wilson explained that he preferred an evolving, “organic,” “Darwinian” Constitution that empowered progressives to breathe whatever meaning they wished into it. It is a wildly ideological view of the nature of our political system.

It is also a font of unending hypocrisy. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, conservatives argued that the country needed to adapt to a new asymmetrical warfare against non-state actors who posed an existential threat. They believed they were working within the bounds of the Constitution. But even if they were stretching things, why shouldn’t that be acceptable — if our Constitution is supposed to evolve with the times?

Yet acolytes of the living Constitution immediately started quoting the wisdom of the founders and the sanctity of the Constitution. Apparently the document is alive when the Supreme Court finds novel rationalizations for abortion rights, but when we need to figure out how to deal with terrorists, suddenly nothing should pry original meaning from the Constitution’s cold, dead hands.

By the way, conservatives do not believe that the Constitution should not change; they just believe that it should change constitutionally — through the amendment process.

‘Social Darwinism’

Obama this month denounced the Republican House budget as nothing more than “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” Liberals have been trotting out this Medusa’s head to petrify the public for generations. It does sound scary. (After all, didn’t Hitler believe in something called “social Darwinism”? Maybe he did.) But no matter how popular the line, these liberal attacks have little relation to the ideas that the “robber barons” and such intellectuals as Herbert Spencer — the “father” of social Darwinism — actually followed.

Spencer’s sin was that he was a soaked-to-the-bone libertarian who championed private charity and limited government (along with women’s suffrage and anti-imperialism). The “reform Darwinists” — namely the early-20th-century Progressives — loathed such classical liberalism because they wanted to tinker with the economy, and humanity itself, at the most basic level.

More vexing for liberals: There was no intellectual movement in the United States called “social Darwinism” in the first place. Spencer, a 19th-century British philosopher, didn’t use the term and wasn’t even a Darwinist (he had a different theory of evolution).

Liberals misapplied the label from the outset to demonize ideas they didn’t like. They’ve never stopped.

‘Better 10 guilty men go free . . .’

At least until George Zimmerman was in the dock, this was a reflexive liberal refrain. The legendary English jurist William Blackstone — the fons et origo of much of our common law — said, “Better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” In fact, this 10 to 1 formula has become known as the “Blackstone ratio” or “Blackstone’s formulation.”

In a brilliant study, n Guilty Men,” legal scholar Alexander Volokh traced the idea that it is better to let a certain number of guilty men go free — from Abraham’s argument with God in Genesis over the fate of Sodom, to the writings of the Roman emperor Trajan, to the legal writings of Moses Maimonides, to Geraldo Rivera.

As a truism, it’s a laudable and correct sentiment that no reasonable person can find fault with. But that’s the problem: No reasonable person disagrees with it. There’s nothing wrong with saying it, but it’s not an argument — it’s an uncontroversial declarative statement. And yet people say it as if it settles arguments. It doesn’t do anything of the sort. The hard thinking comes when you have to deal with the “and therefore what?” part. Where do we draw the lines? If it were an absolute principle, we wouldn’t put anyone in prison, lest we punish an innocent in the process. Indeed, if punishing the innocent is so terrible, why 10? Why not two? Or, for that matter, 200? Or 2,000?

Taken literally, the phrase is absurd. Letting 10 rapists and murderers go free will almost surely result in far more harm to society than putting one poor innocent sap in jail.