The opening of the Hoover Institution 2019 Fall Retreat—the final retreat of Hoover’s centennial year—could not have been more appropriate. Hoover fellow Peter Robinson, Murdoch Distinguished Policy Fellow, sat on a stage before the dinner audience. Across from him sat Jimmy Lai, Chinese entrepreneur, publisher, and longtime advocate for human rights. Lai is a prominent leader of the recent Hong Kong protests against encroachment by the Communist Chinese government.
Proponents of embryonic stem cell research proclaim the potential of the research to find cures or treatments for many diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Opponents say the use and destruction of human embryos in the conduct of this research are immoral. In 2001, President Bush announced a ban on federal funding involving any new lines of embryonic stem cells. But calls to lift the ban continue, as do movements to increase funding at the state level. Which side of the debate is right? Is embryonic stem cell research ethical or not? Peter Robinson speaks with Ramesh Ponnuru and Irving Weissman.
The space program used to mean one thing: the effort to put American astronauts on the moon. That effort is becoming ancient history. We haven't sent anyone to the moon in thirty years. So what is NASA's mission today? What sort of space exploration is worth pursuing today and tomorrow? And is NASA the right institution for the job?
George Orwell was one of the great journalists and political writers of the twentieth century. His writings on the great political struggles of that century—imperialism, fascism, Stalinism—in books such as Homage to Catalonia, Animal Farm, and 1984, are revered. But is Orwell relevant to the main political and cultural issues of our present day? Or should we read Orwell merely out of an appreciation for language and history?
In June 2003, a European constitutional convention presented the fruits of 18 months of work: a draft constitution for the European Union that runs to more than 200 pages. Why does the European Union even need a constitution? Will the constitution limit the powers of the EU over the member countries, or does it mean the creation of a European superstate? Should the constitution be ratified, or is it just a colossal mistake?
In January 2003, the Bush administration unveiled a package of proposed new tax cuts, including provisions to eliminate the taxation of dividends and make permanent the 2001 tax cut. President Bush called the plan "an immediate boost to the economy" as well as "essential for the long run to lay the groundwork for future growth and prosperity." Critics have said that the plan doesn't provide short-term economic stimulus and endangers long-term growth and prosperity. Is the Bush tax plan good for the economy or not?
The Supreme Court has the final authority on all matters of law under the U.S. Constitution. But what legal philosophy should the Supreme Court use to reach its decisions? Should the Court merely hand down rules based on the text of a fixed, or "dead," Constitution? Or should the Court apply standards that are based on interpretations of a "living" Constitution that evolves as our society changes? These fundamentally different approaches to constitutional law have created a rift with the current Supreme Court. How serious is this rift? Who's right? And to what extent are these competing arguments merely covers for ideological positions?
Audio recording of “Out for a Constitutional” (26:48)
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, Peter Robinson sat down (virtually over Zoom) with Kevin Warsh, the Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a former member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. They discuss the nuts and bolts of the Federal Government’s 2 Trillion dollar (and rising) recovery and aid package, why it was needed, and its chances of staving off a depression.
To what extent are government leaders personally responsible for the outcomes of foreign policy and war? We review the career of Henry Kissinger, one of the most colorful statesmen of the twentieth century. Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kissinger served as national security adviser and secretary of state under Presidents Nixon and Ford during two pivotal events in American history, the cold war and the Vietnam War. Is Kissinger guilty, as some have charged, of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his conduct during that era? Or should he be regarded as a bold defender of American freedom during a time of crisis?
In 1946, George Orwell wrote a famous essay deploring the decline in the level of modern political discourse. Many would argue that in the following fifty years, the problem has only gotten worse. But why is this the case? Our politicians all have teams of professional speech writers and pollsters, working with focus group data and the latest research to figure out just what the public wants to hear. So why doesn't it work? Why does the political discourse of our modern politicians pale against those of our forefathers?
In 1937, thousands of Americans from all walks of life volunteered to fight in a poorly equipped army overseas, with no support from their own government. What was it about the Spanish Civil War that inspired such idealism and courage? And was the fight to defend the Spanish Republic against General Franco and the powers of international fascism as pure and noble as it seemed to these Americans? We examine the role that Soviet aid and influence, under Stalin's direction, played in supporting or undermining the Republican cause.
Yuval Levin lay out the importance of institutions—from the military to churches, from families to schools—as these institutions provide the forms and structures we need to be free.
The U.S. government could go a long way toward building understanding in the Middle East by backing the study of Arabic. By Peter Berkowitz.
Our leading newspapers and major television news networks portray themselves as objective and impartial presenters of the news. But are they? And if not, are they biased to the left as conservatives have long claimed or beholden to corporate interests, as those on the left have claimed? If bias in the news media is a problem, what should be done about it?
John McCain has spent a lifetime in the service of his country, including twenty-two years as a naval aviator, two terms in the House of Representatives, and service in the U.S. Senate since 1986. Following his 2000 presidential campaign and the hard-fought passage of his campaign finance bill, John McCain reflects on a life in politics in his recent memoir Worth the Fighting for. A lifelong Republican, Senator McCain has broken with his party's mainstream on a number of issues in recent years. Does John McCain still consider himself a conservative? And why does McCain so often play the maverick?
In the modern democratic era, it's not uncommon for elected leaders to have little or no military training or experience. It has become an accepted notion that political leaders should therefore leave battle plans and campaign decisions to the military commanders and avoid "micromanaging" war. But is that notion correct? Or was Clemenceau right when he said that "war is too important to be left to the generals"? What lessons can we learn from studying the greatest wartime leaders, such as Lincoln, Churchill, and FDR?
Global warming, population, deforestation, mass extinctions—according to environmental groups and environmental scientists, the earth is in ever more dire straits. Should we heed these warnings and take steps to mitigate our impact on the global ecosystem? Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg has come forward to say, not so fast. He claims the environmental state of the world is actually improving, not getting worse. His claims have generated a firestorm of condemnation in the scientific community. Why? And how can we in the general public separate ideology from fact in this debate?
Govern moderately, or the governed will turn against you. Clinton learned it. Will Obama? By Peter Berkowitz.