A Birthday Tribute

In a few weeks, the Beloved Spouse and I will celebrate a significant milestone – our birthdays are only one day apart and this year marks another passing decade for both of us. Anticipation of a joint celebration has spurred me to think about my (deceased) parents.

They were remarkable people; my life, and the lives of my six siblings were shaped by them in ways that it has taken me a long time to come to fully appreciate.

I know, I know: everybody’s life is shaped in a thousand ways by his or her parents. Most people cherish memories of their parents and know that they owe them debts that will never be repaid. Probably your parents were great, too, but unless you’re unbelievably lucky, … mine were better. Allow me just a minute to explain why.


All four of my grandparents came ...

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The American Religion

Longtime readers of these posts know that I have long been a member of a men’s book club in Connecticut. More recently, along with some friends who live near my primary home in one of New York City’s suburbs, I have started a second, similar group. The first meeting of the newer group was just a few nights ago; the book we discussed was Lincoln at Gettysburg – The Words That Remade America by Garry Wills.

It’s a worthwhile book – to begin with, it draws our attentions back to the Gettysburg Address, surely one of the greatest speeches ever given. If, like yours truly, you had largely forgotten the genius of Lincoln’s words, you can reread them here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address)...

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Iceberg in Sight

While I have been – and remain – broadly supportive of most of President Trump’s official acts thus far, there is at least one respect in which it looks to me as if history may come to see his presidency as a disaster. (Ok, maybe two, but I’ll leave a discussion of Trump’s mercantilist instincts for another day). The likely consequences of Trump’s continuing down the road I will describe herein are so dire that all his other achievements and failures will be seen as irrelevancies, and the acrimonious debates about them as unhelpful sideshows.

In past years, I repeatedly took President Obama to task for having had a devil-may-care attitude about the growth in federal spending on his watch...

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Trump’s Lies

An anonymous reader of yesterday’s post left a very sharp comment that I quote here in its entirety:

“’who was (and is!) entitled, self-righteous and dishonest to or past the point of criminality….’ Describes Mr. Trump equally, or possibly more than Mrs. Clinton, don’t you think? We shouldn’t hold him to a lower standard.”

This comment calls for a serious response. By embedding my response into a new post, I’ll give both the comment and my response a wider audience.


For many, many years before Trump entered politics, my former business partner and I were mildly obsessed by his low character and his publicity-seeking antics. We watched the erection of one of his garishly named buildings from our office windows, so he was a neighbor of sorts...

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Trump’s Luck

One of the reasons that I’m glad I’m not a Democrat – in addition to the obvious one that I mostly disagree with the party’s policy prescriptions – is that if I were, I would be going into a deep depression about the way that the party’s leaders are behaving. Because of their ferocious dislike of the president, and the echo chambers in which they live and breathe, they are acting like idiots. I am convinced that the American people are noticing or will get around to doing so by election time.

To begin, by presenting a uniformly sullen image during the State of the Union address last week, Congressional Democrats may have telegraphed their righteous hatred of all things Trump to their most fervent volunteers and donors, but would the broader audience really appreciate their insisten...

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Where Freedom Comes From

Religion comes first.

Whatever faith each of us has, consciously or otherwise, doesn’t so much define how we see ourselves as encapsulate it. We may or may not believe in God as described by one of the major religions, or even have our own clear conceptions of what He is, but we live our lives by one or another of various possible frameworks of understanding that enable us to get out of bed in the morning. Some of those frameworks help us set better patterns of living than others. We judge ourselves by these yardsticks.

We also accord others rights, and expect them ourselves, based on the same frameworks. Other people are either to be treated as being of equal moral worth in our eyes and those of God, or they are not...

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Don’t Know Much About History…

It was a lovely, sunny day in Connecticut today, and warmer than we had any right to expect, so I went out for a bicycle ride with some close friends. We got a little exercise, caught up, saw some pretty sights and soaked in some much-needed mid-winter rays – a treat all around.

During the ride, I spent a fair bit of time talking with an exceptionally bright and intellectually engaged young man, a fairly recent history-major graduate of one of our most prestigious colleges. As we rode through Old Saybrook, I told him about the Puritans who had settled the area, and of a nearby place where two regicides had hidden from English justice after the Restoration.

My young friend seemed a bit mystified by these references, so I gave him some of the broader context of the 17th century struggles bet...

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The Imputation of Bad Motive

The constant abuse of the word racist drives me to distraction.

Notwithstanding what you may have heard, it is not racist for our government to use “extreme vetting”, as the Trump Administration intends, on prospective immigrants from certain predominantly Muslim nations. It might be bad policy for any number of reasons – that’s a fair topic for debate – but it’s not racist.

If racism were at the heart of the Administration’s concerns about immigration from the designated countries – if President Trump loathed all Arabs, say, or thought them inferior – he would not have repeatedly voiced support for the admission of more Syrian Christians (who are, of course, Arabs) – and he would be intent on applying extreme vetting to would-be immigrants from all Arab countries.

No, P...

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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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Blinded By Hate

I’ve just read what I believe is by far the most lucid, balanced perspective yet on the Russia/collusion investigation’s background and sustaining fuel, written by Andrew McCarthy in National Review; I urge you to read it too: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/455426/steele-dossier-fusion-gps-glenn-simpson-trump-russia-investigation.

By way of background, McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor, so he has a deep knowledge of the relevant law and processes. National Review, for its part, is and always has been at the heart of the neverTrump movement – conservative intellectuals whose loathing of our President matches or exceeds that of, say, The New York Times, but in their case it is based more on the sense that electing a man of Trump’s character and (presumed lack of) principle...

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