Just Settle Down!

I have a good friend who is kind of crusty. Whenever I, or anybody else, runs off at the mouth in his presence – interrupting someone or saying something that is ill-considered or expressed too stridently – he is liable to jump in with an abrupt “He wasn’t finished!” or “Just settle down!” He enforces his own rules of discourse.

When I am the one he calls out, I feel like a teenager being reprimanded by my elders, which is a neat trick considering that I am nearly sixty.

We could use a few guys – or gals, no reason it couldn’t be gals – like him as, oh I don’t know, editors-in-chief, executive producers and better angels sitting on the shoulders of our politicians and celebrities. They all need to tone down their rhetoric by several notches.

A couple of days ago, in conversation with some ...

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Roles

What I do with my time matters much less to my family than it once did because our children are grown. This new-ish status of theirs is something to be celebrated (“Every adult is a miracle” – my mother-in-law), but it is also a downgrade in the importance of my previously central roles in life, provider and father. My grandchildren are far more of a pleasure to me than a responsibility – their parents quite properly bear those weights. My Beloved Spouse is in great shape, thank you very much, and not in need – or, if I am honest with myself, in want – of my constant ministrations.

So who will I be henceforth?

In my own mind, and I trust in fact, I am too young and healthy to be retired in the traditional sense, resting from my labors and savoring the days; After all, if I’m lucky,...

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Mueller’s Game

I have tried to avoid the temptation to comment on the alleged scandals involving supposed collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and the possibility that the president obstructed justice by firing James Comey. Heretofore, the sole exception to my general reticence on this topic was when I wrote that former president Obama, who has little love for his successor and who doubtless knows more on these scores than most, has been notably absent from the wolfpack pursuing Trump.

I have figured that because I have no independent knowledge of the facts, and less of the relevant law than many, I didn’t have much light to shed...

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An Expensive Win

By amending the tax code, President Trump almost certainly cost me a mid-sized fortune. I admire him for it.

Four and a half years ago, I wrote a long post on the horror show that is our tax code. In it, I made the following observation:

“Three gigantic ‘sacred cow’ federal deductions that particularly need to be reconsidered are: state and local taxes, interest on home mortgages and charitable gifts. In a sense, all three represent subsidies for high-income people (often resident in high-tax states) at the expense of people in lower tax states...

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What the Iconoclasts Forget

Years ago, a friend who doesn’t eat meat told me that he thinks that in a few generations people will remember their carnivorous forbears – like me – with the same sense of shame now felt by the descendants of American slave owners. His comment didn’t convince me to change my eating habits but it did set me thinking about how societal norms sometimes undergo radical changes.

Until late in the eighteenth century, slavery was more or less universally accepted as the way of the world. Every empire-building conqueror and even the thought-leaders among the great ancient civilizations took the buying and selling of human beings for granted...

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Coming to Like Trump

I am beginning to like this guy Trump.

As longtime readers of these posts know, I gave money to and voted for Gary Johnson. I have regularly written about my differences – both stylistic and substantive – with the President. I am often horrified by his thin-skinned immaturity and un-presidential tweets and – more substantively – I am truly worried by his nonchalance about the growth of entitlement spending (typified by his acceptance of the pre-existing conditions aspect of Obamacare) and his threats to tear up the NAFTA treaty. I can read a column like this one (http://www.nationalreview.com/article/452799/donald-trump-america-talent-chief) by die-hard never-Trumper Jonah Goldberg and agree with every word.

And yet, … I think he is doing a lot of good. Let me detail the ways:

– I ...

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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

***

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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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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