Senatorial Insanity

I had an experience this weekend that may shed an oblique light on how we should think about the recent allegations against Judge Kavanaugh.

I was in a three-and-a-half hour bicycle race, on a team with five friends. Roughly half way into the event, three of my teammates employed a tactic that infuriated me. I was so angry that I didn’t stick around to talk with them after the race for fear that I would tell them what I really thought of how they had ridden. One can get pretty wound-up about a three-and-a-half hour effort.

When I later received a group-email from one of the miscreants celebrating the event, though, I felt I had to set out my perspective.

They all responded to my email, of course. They had seen the same sequence of events very differently than I had.

Don’t get me wrong, h...

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Falling Standards/Failing Students

The rot in our schools is far worse than we want to admit. To get a sense of how bad it is, a quick read of this post https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/how-colleges-are-ripping-generation-ill-prepared-students will give you an overview. The author’s (unimpeachable) data is drawn from the recently-released 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress (https://www.nationsreportcard.gov/), which should be a source of grief to one and all. Quoting the linked post: “Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.”

Amazingly, most of these manifestly unprepared high school gra...

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Media Hypocrisy

La Rochefoucauld famously quipped that “Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue”. True enough, but I still find that particular trait grating. Most people do.

I want to barf when I read the press’s endless encomia to Senator McCain, not because I hated the Senator – I most certainly did not – but because I’m old enough to remember when, during the presidential campaign of 2008, the very same media – indeed, in many cases the same people –  painted him as a Crypto-Nazi. At that time, I was contributing to McCain’s (sadly, inept) campaign and paying very close attention to how he was being portrayed.

Now they praise McCain for two reasons – that he hated Trump and that he’s dead, in that order...

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A Great Country

Governor Cuomo has spent recent days walking back a comment he made in a speech last week that America “…was never that great.”

In trying to show his opposition to all things Trump, Cuomo had gone too far, insulting those who take pride in our country’s accomplishments. It’s impossible to imagine such a sentiment having crossed the lips of previous generations of progressive politicians like, to pick a not-so-random example, Mario Cuomo. The son lacks the father’s deftness – and his judgement.

Besides being politically foolish, the younger Cuomo’s comment was wrong by any conceivable objective measure...

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Nighty Night, Little Knights

By now you have doubtless read about the letter signed by numerous former high-ranking members of the intelligence community decrying President Trump’s revocation of MSNBC commentator John Brennan’s security clearances, or seen the hilariously funny clip (https://youtu.be/udblJfjYttI) of former CIA analyst Phil Mudd, now employed by CNN, exploding in anger at the very suggestion that he and others like him might also lose theirs.

Apparently, security clearances are viewed by many former government officials as rights belonging to them. They think they get to know about things that we mere peasants do not because, … because those are their rights as (former) knights of the realm...

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A Disagreement Among Friends

In recent months, I have become friends with a man I met through one of my book clubs. He’s a bit older than I am, and a fellow of whom, after he joined the group, I very quickly got the sense that we have a great deal in common. A relatively recent retiree, still active on many fronts, his career path has led to both all corners of the planet and leadership positions in diverse industries. Not only are his manners and bearing beyond reproach, they seem grounded in a considered and considerate nature.

Notwithstanding our shared affinities, I am pretty sure that his politics and mine are diametrically opposed. I‘m guessing that he knows of our political differences, too, but we’ve both let the topic be...

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The Impeachment End Game

Early last week, I found myself on an elevator with Tom Steyer. As you may know, he is a billionaire, by far the nation’s largest political donor and a possible aspirant to high elective office; he has given hundreds of millions to progressive Democrats and is currently funding a high profile effort to encourage Trump’s impeachment. A brief, slightly awkward situation arose when he and his lunch companion, and I and mine, reached the lobby – in it, he showed situational awareness and an instinctive personal grace that were truly impressive. He came across as the embodiment of old-school WASP gentility.

I don’t doubt that in advocating for Trump’s removal from office Steyer is sincere, rather than just using his directed spending to establish himself as a force on the left; but I thin...

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Trump/Mueller

In response to yesterday’s post, one of my closest friends emailed me without comment three of yesterday’s presidential tweets. He knows that I don’t ever use Twitter, or customarily read tweets.

Each one was disparaging of Robert Mueller and his ongoing investigation of TrumpWorld. The unwritten text of my friend’s emails would have been something along the lines of: how can you defend this jerk?

For my friend’s benefit, in this post I will give my own sense of the meaning of the current scandals, although it must be said that I am properly humble about what I don’t know – additional pertinent facts will doubtless emerge over time, and they may change how I see these matters...

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Uncivil Discourse

Last night, the Beloved Spouse and I were privileged to attend an absolutely beautiful dinner party given by two of our favorite people. Roughly twenty-four of us enjoyed a rich and delicious meal together in the temperate summer air, overlooking a glorious water view. There was a tent overhead in case of rain, but the weather held until about half an hour after the party ended. Then it stormed. Let’s just hope that wasn’t a portent.

Not long after we were seated, a highly accomplished and generally friendly man at my table, whom I had not previously met, went on a riff about how wouldn’t it be great if the CIA were to kill President Trump. He meant his comments to be taken as humorous, clearly assuming that the rest of us at the table shared his perspective that a deus (or rather, assas...

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A Culturist

As you may know, the word libertarian fairly describes my thinking on most broadly political, economic and even social matters; there should be a word that captures how I, and others like me, think about culture. I propose the word culturist. I think – and clutch your pearls now if you are one of the perpetually offended – that some cultures are better than others.

By better, I mean both that such cultures are – in broad terms – fairer and that they encourage behaviors that result in the creation of vastly more wealth and knowledge. They help mankind not lead lives that are, in Hobbes’s immortal phrase, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

Over time the vast majority of people who have ever lived have done so in Hobbesian conditions; we do not...

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