By Any Means Necessary?

A man I have known for a long time and both like and respect recently posted the following comment on LinkedIn:

“The President’s move on Dreamers is wrong. Very wrong.”

I am not in the habit of publicly dissenting from LinkedIn comments, but I couldn’t restrain myself from leaving the following response:

“Disagree. A President doesn’t get to unilaterally change laws as President Obama did in this instance, which is why DACA is an unconstitutional infringement on legislative powers; Congress must act to grant relief from current law if relief is to be granted. Process matters.” 

His comment got a lot more ‘likes’ than mine did.

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Fewer and fewer people – even highly accomplished ones like the man whose comment I was responding to above – have much reverence, or even respec...

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Feedback

I have had several conversations with a person who manages an enormous amount of money for one of the country’s wealthiest families. Along with his money management role he is involved with the family’s philanthropic efforts.

He would like to know if I would be interested in a management role in an effort that they are putting together through the family’s charitable foundation to address one of our nation’s biggest and most complex social/economic/structural problems. Or perhaps I should have written ‘sets of problems’ since, in fact, the problem they intend to address is a spaghetti of differing issues and interests, winding through many industry segments and demographics.

I like the people behind the effort, respect the resources that they intend to put into it and have genu...

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Bourgeois Values

As you may know, two law school professors – Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania and Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego – recently provoked a noisy backlash from progressives associated with – and culturally dominant at – their institutions by co-authoring this (http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/paying-the-price-for-breakdown-of-the-countrys-bourgeois-culture-20170809.html) oped praising bourgeois values. In it, they gave advice that once would have been seen as anodyne – trite, even – but that many now see as racist:

“That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness...

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Disparate Threads?

Some friends of mine are in the process of moving out of their home.  Their grown children don’t want their antiques – too much trouble.

My own tastes run to readily comprehensible things that reflect the artistry of others, but generally require a bit of tending. Sterling silver, mechanical clocks and mahogany furniture; pianos, bicycles and representational paintings. Bookcases full of printed books that I have read or hope to read.

When these things were in style, so were my views on individual liberties, personal responsibility and purpose.

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Who will need to own a car when plentiful, self-driving Uber-style vehicles always await our electronic signals? Who will need a hotel room when Airbnb evolves to the point at which appropriate rooms are available on command to people at al...

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Race, One More Time

What is racism if not the idea that race matters?

But just try to suggest that race doesn’t matter in polite company, and see how far that gets you. At a lovely dinner party on Saturday night I had a spirited discussion on precisely this topic with the woman who was sitting to my right, with whom I have been friendly for a long time. We are still on good terms; now she just thinks I’m nuts.

Her first response was that she has often been told by her black acquaintances that the people who claim to be colorblind are generally the ones who are the most bigoted. She didn’t mean to imply that I am a bigot, you understand, just to hint that I was on thin ice.

I hadn’t claimed that I didn’t see color, though; of course I do...

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A Universalist Vision

“I am human and I think that nothing of that which is human is alien to me. “

– Publius Terentius Afer, now known as Terence, a Roman poet and former slave

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Like most Americans, I have been following the violence employed as a political tactic around the country by the “antifa” left, and now by white nationalists in Charlottesville, with horror. These groups are mirror-images of each other, and not just in the tactics they employ. They are splinter-group reflections of a culture that has been discarding the universalist ideal (“All men are created equal”) in favor of narrower – and ugly – group interests.

I can’t begin to match the clarity of this (https://www.facebook.com/brendan.oneill.79/posts/1450097131747042?pnref=story) post on the sense of victimhood that drives...

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A Contrarian Bet

In the beautiful valley by the lower reaches of the Connecticut River, the rich are a diminished tribe. Too many are passing away or moving to the sunbelt; their numbers are not being replenished by locally generated wealth or fresh influxes from New York or Boston. More people are leaving the area than are coming – and evidence suggests that this trend is much more pronounced at the top end of the income spectrum than elsewhere.

High-end real estate prices reflect these changes: immaculate, million-dollar-plus homes on stunning properties can now be bought for half their former values. Many cost less than what it would cost to replace the existing buildings, with the land thrown in for free – never a good sign.

Sure, somebody will eventually buy these homes, and one man’s loss is anothe...

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Thoughts About Faith…

There is a God. There is no God.

Unlike an assertion along the lines of ‘there is milk in the refrigerator’, neither of these statements is either verifiable or, on the flip side, falsifiable; how, therefore, can they be useful? Further, the closer we look, the clearer it becomes that what people mean by ‘God’ is all over the map.

Oh, sure, fundamentalists of every faith may think that they know exactly what God is, and how He thinks and acts; but isn’t that rather presumptuous? Such confidence assumes that the oral and written traditions of their particular faiths reflect God’s past actions and present intentions with perfect clarity, and that they may be interpreted by mankind with total confidence.

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Who – or what – is God? In the Judeo-Christian traditions there seems to ...

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What’s News?

President Trump and his allies are enjoying the media’s own goals http://thehill.com/homenews/media/340564-media-errors-fuel-trump-attacks, but the factual errors in these stories are a relatively unimportant symptom of the media’s bias problem.

Who cares, really, that only four intelligence agencies –  the CIA, FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Agency – had contributed to the conclusion that the Russians had interfered in the 2016 election, instead of the 17 agencies originally referenced by The New York Times and The Associated Press? As I’ve previously written, I – and, I assume, most people – believe that those four agencies were right – the Russians probably did their best to sow confusion and distrust about our election process, and i...

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The Russia Thing

My first reaction to the recent Project Veritas undercover videos of Van Jones saying “The Russia thing is just a big nothingburger” and CNN supervising producer John Bonifield patiently explaining that while there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, his ultimate boss Jeff Zucker was pushing back against news about changes in policy in favor of more coverage of the “bullshit” Russia story to garner higher ratings, was to laugh.  I had long since concluded that despite the frantic hopes of the Democratic left and members of the press, insofar as they are distinguishable, such collusion hadn’t happened.

As I have thought about these videos and, more broadly, the never-ending quest of the left to delegitimize if not rid themselves of our preside...

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