Skip to content

Archive of Recorded Lectures

July 16, 2018

Over more than a decade, Yorktown University commissioned lectures by its “Founding Faculty” and recorded presentations of special guests at University events. We have begun to post some of those lectures at the American Academy of Distance Learning. 

Lectures by George Gilder, Lee Cheek, Lewis Pringle, William Sloane, Thomas Landess, David Corbin, Carey Roberts, William Luckey and the University’s founder. Richard Bishirjian, are featured with more to come in future days and weeks.

 

The “Deal” with Putin is “Done”

July 15, 2018

In hunting season, hunters wear clothing that can distinguish them from the game they are hunting.  In fishing, a bright, flashing, lure will attract fish and in politics, too, there is a place for bright shiny objects.

President Trump is the embodiment of a bright shiny object moving from Singapore, to Brussels and now Helsinki. This movement serves three purposes:

  1. to distract the public’s attention from the Mueller investigation,
  2. give the impression of movement on serious policy issues, and
  3. to meet with other world leaders, in the mistaken belief that “deals” are achieved in personal meetings.

The “deal” with Russia, however, is done.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has the goods on Trump’s business interests in Russia and quite possibly has the President on video in compromising situations. Nothing will be done in Trump’s meeting with Putin, but we will be distracted–deal done.

 

Understanding Trump vs. May

July 13, 2018

Times are changing–everything.

What was once called “Great Britain” was dealt a deep blow when England was compelled to give up its colonies, leaving Albion alone to nurse its wounds.  Wounded once, British Labor dealt England a second, more serious, wound by introducing National Healthcare–socialized medicine after World War II. Even when the Brits came to their senses and elected a Tory government under Margaret Thatcher, her abilities were not sufficient to remove the many programs that had absorbed private sector services into England’s socialized economy.

Even today, the Brits don’t want to give up their “free” healthcare.

Now anti-EU forces within the United Kingdom are forcing Prime Minister Theresa May–who is what British Conservatives call a “Wet”–equivalent to our “Liberals”–to fight a rear-guard action against forces that may lead to the break-up of the European Union. Those forces were at work in the United States as well, if the election of Donald Trump is an example.

The ideology of “internationalism” represented here by every President–living and dead–since FDR is finally meeting opposition.

President Trump understands that, but can’t keep his mouth shut, and blundered into a very undiplomatic situation during his visit to the United Kingdom. The “Wets” will be kicked out very soon and a Trump look-alike will ascend to party leadership on the Emerald Isle. The false claims of the Brits of a “special relationship” with the United States will have been put into the ashbin and U.S. relations with its European allies will be put on an equal footing.

 

Medievalists of Color

July 13, 2018

Though the “Middle Ages” are part of the curriculum of most programs in political philosophy, the scholarly demands of mastery of Latin preclude most of us from teaching that subject. Fortunately, I took time to go back and study the history of this period of history from the fall of Rome to the 14th century for a new book I am writing that examines the causes of fragility of democracy in our time.

I found that these men and women, who lived a thousand years ago, responded to the disorders of their times and left us a legacy that is fresh with insights. In fact, I found them to be very much like us and I became aware of some academic programs in the field of Medieval studies as far away as Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia and a wonderful program as near as Fordham University.

I can only imagine how exclusive are the communities of scholars gathered at those institutions and at others scattered across the United States in Departments of History and Philosophy. Once upon a time, long ago, there was a constant supply of Latin scholarship produced as a consequence of Catholic schools that required the study of Latin.

That has been swept aside in a modern Catholic Church committed to a theology of Social Justice that requires only “feelings,” not mastery of ancient languages. That erosion of scholarship among Christians has given Jewish scholars who master Hebrew and other ancient languages entry into very important areas of Medieval scholarship.

If only that were so among Christians.

In yesterday’s InsideHigherEd.Com we find a report that PC has intruded even as far as the field of Medieval Studies. A Medievalists of Color group has protested a lack of diversity in Medieval studies. The acid of ideology is now appearing in one of the few areas of study where the engendering spirit of the West was once protected from modern madness

Look Away

July 10, 2018

While all eyes are focused on the nomination to the Supreme Court of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, we ought to be focused on the upcoming meetings of President Trump with NATO in Brussels and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Our peripatetic President travels hither and yon in the mistaken impression that foreign policy is transacted in person to person meetings. He’s got that half right. Meeting a foreign head of state places relations in better perspective, but successful negotiations must be preceeded by months of lower level meetings.

Walking in to a meeting with nothing more than a “Hey, I’m here” is dangerous.

President Trump’s meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un might not have ended in recriminations, if a foreign policy team had developed a strategy that included assessment of intentions of the People’s Republic of China. Trump has failed to build such a team because he believes that the American government has too many people. Jared, Ivanka, the Donald and Pompeo can handle whatever needs to be done.

President Trump has been critical of NATO and has horrified members of this Atlantic Alliance. But, it was clear that NATO had become much like the United Nations–a place where hot air is released in meeting after meetings. In order to accommodate that, NATO constructed a new HQ that cost $1 billion dollars.

That is only half NATO’s fault.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Secretary of State James Baker slipped up and did not immediately reassess American foreign policy and evaluate whether NATO could now handle its own defenses.  Baker’s “realism” was warped and tied to the former Soviet Union. He hadn’t a clue about what today became a new world order.

So, give President Trump credit for understanding that.

With respect to Russia, however, the President’s foreign policy, to the extent he has one directed toward US/Russian relations, is “off the wall.”

The goal of Russia’s Putin is to recover the Ukraine, improve Russia’s weakened economic condition, and bully the former “captive nations” of Eastern Europe into joining a greater Russia. Rumblings directed at Western Europe are smokescreens directing our eyes in the wrong direction.

Look away, Donald, and focus on the right direction of Russian foreign policy.

 

Death of the Conservative “Movement”

July 9, 2018

Part Two

The transformation of the “Movement” from being zealous in defense of principle to becoming Republican Party cheer leaders began when Ronald Reagan became President. The former conservative movement expanded from a small elite who stood by Ronald Reagan when he sought the GOP nomination three times into an immense cheering section of persons who, the day before Reagan’s election, had given not a thought to conservative ideas, had not read an important conservative book, nor ever thought they might work for a Reagan Presidential Administration. I stopped going to Reagan Alumni reunions when more faux conservatives showed up than had worked for President Reagan.

I’m afraid that during the thirty-six years between 1980 and 2017, the worst that could happen did happen: the “Movement” changed and became a “business.” Policy organizations hedged their criticism, even when the Reagan White House staff, National Security Council and Department of State were co-opted by Nixon/Ford Republicans. Though President Reagan read Human Events, the wise guys in the White House struggled to keep copies from reaching the President’s desk.

There were other anomalies in the President’s behavior: he defended SDI against Gorbachev, but not his own Party. Today, we have no space-based ballistic missile defense systems.

And, we ’60s era conservatives have aged.

Bill Buckley, inattentive to his own mortality, ignored choosing a conservative successor as editor of National Review. Irving Kristol is dead and politically astute Neocons are taking Neoconservatism Leftward. John Podhoretz is a panelist on MSNBC, a radical Leftist cable “news” television network controlled by Brian L. Roberts. One wonders why Podhoretz gives cover to MSNBC when the better approach is to rein in the fake news that is MSNBC’s regular fare?

For a time, Fox News under the assertive leadership of Roger Ailes, played an important role and introduced a refreshing form of Rightist advocacy journalism. But, the dynasty  of Rupert Murdoch is now in transition to his sons, James and Lachlan Murdoch, who instinctively bow to the claims of sexism by feminists and race discrimination by Black Lives Matter. While the mainline, Leftist, media is invigorated by opposition to Trump, Sinclair Broadcasting merely thinks about going toe to toe with MSNBC and CNN, while Newsmax plays around with Internet-based television and commentators like Mike Levin, Michelle Malkin and others have launched their own Web-based video service. The problem with that is that Americans watch television on TVs in their homes, not on computer monitors.

Too many policy organizations–given the ludicrous name of “Think Tanks,” as if there was any thinking conducted in their well-appointed HQs–fall over themselves to find ways not to jeopardize their income streams. Other organizations that movement conservatives depended on to hold the feet of the powerful to the flames of principle fall very short.

Even today, many conservative leaders act as if George W. Bush was a conservative President. Only Rand Paul and Donald Trump knew better.

“Successful” conservatives are now known for fundraising, not conservative ideas.

One of the most important and oldest organizations supporting students on liberal campuses–ISI–believed that President George W. Bush was “conservative,” ran into financial difficulties, cut programs, and abandoned or dumbed-down publication of intellectual journals (Intercollegiate Review, Continuity, Political Science Reviewer). As a long term supporter of ISI, I criticized them privately, but it did no good. As a result, efforts that started in the 1950s by a libertarian, Frank Chodorov, to sustain young conservatives on college campuses–now firmly dominated by a “Left university” system–are neglected.

And, last, but not least, even though Grove City and Hillsdale College do their best in a sea of Liberals in control of academia, only two or three recent attempts were made to create new ones including Shimer College, Yorktown University and Wyoming Catholic.

The one launch of a conservative law school  (Delaware School of Law) in the 1970s had difficulty attaining ABA accreditation, merged with Widener University and became much less principled, ultimately firing its founder, Alvin Avins.

The loss of Shimer, Yorktown University and Delaware School of Law was representative of lackluster efforts by conservatives to educate their own and was a sign that what had begun in the 1950s as an intellectual “movement,” by 2016, was very weakened and now appears to be on its deathbed.

That is to be regretted because “movements” that can affect the course of nations by challenging corrupt elites occur very infrequently and, after their demise, they cannot be revived.

Perhaps that explains why the populism of Steve Bannon took front and center place only for a short time, but was a sign, nevertheless, that conservatives are still a social force. None, however, has answered the call to form a national conservative party to replace–or contest–a somnolent GOP.

What will follow the Trump Administration?

Nothing good comes to mind and, in fact, we may want to think about purchasing some of those dry foods now being advertised that can last twenty-five years.

 

 

 

 

Death of the Conservative “Movement”

July 7, 2018

Part One

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the Conservative “Movement” was the most exciting place to be in American public life. Feeling “rejected and afflicted” by the Establishment in every aspect of American life–politics, education, religion–Conservatives threw caution to the wind and attacked the Republican Establishment. They didn’t care because, as supporters of Barry Goldwater said, “In our hearts we knew we were right.”

As a young college student finishing my first year of college, I was one of them. I found a home among fellow conservatives who became my friends and shared a belief in free markets, a Constitution rooted in a philosophy of limited government, and firm conviction that we must defend our freedom and “the West” from the Soviet Union. Anti-communism was part of the package that we accepted when we joined the “Conservative Movement.”

Conservatives grew organizations that supported these ideas–Bill Baroody, Sr. at the American Enterprise Institute, Don Lipsett at the Philadelphia Society, E. Victor Milione at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Bill Buckley at National Review and Young Americans for Freedom–and we modern conservatives were also readers. We devoured Buckley’s National Review, Leonard Reed’s The Freeman, James Wick and Frank Hanninghen’s Human Events and ISI’s Intercollegiate Review and Modern Age (the latter founded by Russell Kirk) and books published by Henry Regnery. In fact, during two summers I worked for Henry Regnery standing guard at the Regnery booth at the first “conservative political action” conferences held at the Mayflower Hotel in 1961 and 1962 hosted by Human Events. That conference blossomed into the CPACs of today.

Those were heady days made even more exciting by the arousal from slumber of Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians who were attracted to Barry Goldwater. When Goldwater went down to defeat, they retreated to their churches until 1979 when Jerry Falwell organized the “moral majority” with Paul Weyrich. Though we voted for Richard Nixon against Hubert Humphrey, that did not compensate for more deaths of American combatants in Vietnam than occurred under LBJ.

By the end of President Lyndon Johnson’s Administration, Liberalism as a political force was exhausted and its fervor–developed during the New Deal–had  become mired in the grasping for government “pork” in the form of welfare programs that benefited Liberal activists and Democrat Party operatives.

Today, unfortunately, close to sixty years later, the “Conservative Movement” itself gives every impression that it too is exhausted and what remains of a “community” of conservatives that revitalized American politics for more than a quarter century–from Russell Kirk (1955) and Bill Buckley to Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan (1988)–blended into the general population.

Those Americans in utter desperation who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, now watch with concern as he defines what for the general public is “conservative.” As for us who read Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, Whitaker Chambers’ Witness, Eric Voegelin’s Order and History or the hundreds of books imaginative conservatives devoured, we know what “conservatism” is and we wonder if the GOP will ever generate a new leadership that had read some of those books.

Instead, we must ask “Is the great American Conservative Movement is dead?”

One answer,  surely, is that “Conservatism,” with a capital “C” became a very good “business” when conservatives were in opposition to Democrats when they were in power.  But, when Republicans governed, we trimmed our sails. Conservative policy organizations that rebuked Liberal majorities in Congress, or Democrat Presidents in the White House, found that they could make good business by not attacking Republicans when the GOP controlled Congress or elected a Republican President.

President George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush were criticized by a minority of old stalwarts like Richard Viguerie and the Libertarian Cato Institute, but not many more.

Even when George W. Bush’s deficit spending and imperial wars destroyed the Republican brand, nary a word in criticism could be heard from Washington “Think Tanks.” Their leaders either liked “W,” or held their breath while continuing to benefit from GOP control of the White House. Even I voted for “W”–twice.

Conservative donors, also, were part of the problem, and wanted to go to events with elected “leaders” more than they wanted to defend our country from bad conservatives.

Look for Part Two on July 9.