Memorial Day Thoughts

I spent much of yesterday reading With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge – a singularly appropriate choice for Memorial Day – for an upcoming book club meeting. As you may know, the book is a memoir of Sledge’s service as a Marine in the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa; it was the basis for a recent, well-received PBS series produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman.

Sledge describes the living hell that is war with clarity and humility.

The island campaigns in which he fought went on for weeks on end in conditions too ugly to fully describe here; the front-line troops who participated figured that sooner or later their numbers would be up, and most were right about that...

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A Conversation with a Young Lady

Last night, prior to a board meeting, the trustees of Harlem Academy met with the school’s soon-to-be-graduating eighth grade class. The marvelous young lady with whom I spoke at some length will be heading off to a school in Massachusetts next year; she hopes to become a physician some day.

She asked me to explain why I work with this school, and why on a voluntary basis. Her attitude was one of genuine, polite curiosity.

I told her that the idea that everybody should have a chance to accomplish important things is one of the noblest characteristics of our country – it’s one of the values that bring us together. We are a nation of strivers, and fervent believers in merit.

Harlem Academy provides bright young people from underprivileged, inner-city backgrounds with a truly first class e...

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Political Realignment?

Over the last couple of months, I have been doing a lot of thinking about President Trump and our country’s bitter partisan divides.

As longtime Civil Horizon readers know, I have mixed feelings about our new president – in whom, from a policy perspective, I see strong positives and equally strong negatives; my conflicted feelings mirror those of the voices of the establishment right – particularly, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and National Review. I would describe these views as not NeverTrump, but a distinct mixture of hopes and fears.

At the same time, the voices of the establishment left – particularly the “news” pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post – and mainstream (meaning: of the left) broadcast outlets like CNN and MSNBC, can only be descri...

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Against Multiculturalism

Take a moment to think again about one of the most important sentences ever written:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

In the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence, the Founders set out a proudly universalist vision of natural rights. If all men are created equal, then preferences for one tribe, sect or class over another, whether in law or custom, are wrong.

This statement was a (literally) revolutionary rejection of the caste systems – and tribe-based identities – of other nations of the world. It spoke of universal natural rights...

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Abortion and The Role of Government

I really don’t think you care what I think about abortion and, for the most part, I’m ok with that. Most likely, either you think it is a morally neutral medical procedure and every woman’s natural right, or you think it’s murder, straight up. It is, ah, unlikely that a blog post is going to convince you to change positions.

Even so, I might be able to convince you to rethink the role of government as regards abortion and other matters of widespread and profound disagreement.

***

I recently had a conversation with someone who is terribly afraid that the new Administration will defund Planned Parenthood. I told her that I think that the government should defund Planned Parenthood – for the exact same reason, ironically, that I wouldn’t support an outright abortion ban; I also told...

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Technology, Privacy and Freedom

Not long ago, the Beloved and I took a three-day trip to visit our older son and daughter-in-law in New Orleans. We flew from LaGuardia.

As we have long been accustomed to doing when leaving for short trips, we drove to the airport rather than use a taxi or car service. Big mistake: we had forgotten that the enormous old parking garage near the main terminal has been temporarily torn down as part of rebuilding the airport.

We were directed to park in a remote area that I had never seen before. As we awaited the bus that would take us through the construction mess and back to the terminal, I noticed a sign announcing that cash would not be accepted for payment on retrieving our car.

I wondered out loud to the Beloved if it was illegal for the Port Authority to refuse to accept cash: it say...

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Under a Steel-Gray Sky

Two days ago I slipped in some mud while carrying my kayak up a hill. I caught myself, but in doing so I seem to have hurt something deep in my right shoulder. Since then the right side of my torso has ached.

This morning, at the suggestion of my Beloved Spouse, I went outside to sit in the hot tub by our pool. I am not really a hot tub guy – I have probably used it a dozen times in as many years – but she thought the heat and bubble jets might help lessen my shoulder pain.

So I sat in the steaming water under a steel-gray sky; to my surprise, my thoughts turned to an old friend.

***

Doug and I went to boarding school together. We got to know each other through rowing; he was a big, athletic guy – a gentle giant. Though we were two years apart, we became fast friends.

For we were n...

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Rich State, Poor State

Many people consider Connecticut to be one of the richest American states; if you google “wealthiest states by income” it comes up in the top three. Lots of wealthy – or, to be more precise about what’s being measured – high-income people live in Connecticut. Well, fewer every day, but I’ll get back to that.

The state itself, as distinguished from the people who live there, is broke. Really broke. It ranks last among the states in fiscal solvency (http://mercatus.org/statefiscalrankings); its debts – on and off balance sheet – dwarf reasonable estimates of its ability to pay them.

Ah, you might think (especially if you are a Democrat or a member of a public employee union) – the state will just have to squeeze more taxes out of its wealthy residents to meet its future needs...

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A Grand Day

A little over thirty years ago, while my wife was in labor with our first child, my in-laws sat in the hospital’s waiting room for seemingly endless hours. Every so often I would go downstairs to inform them about the slow increases in the tempo of the contractions that were leading us toward the big event. My father-in-law greeted my every appearance with nervous pacing; I had the confidence of youth.

I spent most of that day with my wife, feeling largely extraneous to a process that had its own rhythm. Oh I could provide her with moral support, but the reality was that my role was minimal. Mother nature had taken charge; my wife’s body was doing the work.

Eventually, our older daughter arrived in a crescendo of pain and excitement that is like no other experience in life.

***

I used to j...

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To See America

The Idea – 1/11/16

Three months from today, I am going to set out from Los Angeles by bicycle, hoping to ride to Old Lyme, CT. I have dreamed of doing this for thirty years; it’s now or never.

Over the next three months, I’ll give a lot of thought to the logistics, and try to get fit enough so that I’ll make it.

Just now, though, I have to tell the Beloved Spouse about the plan. I’m not sure she’ll be thrilled.

Day Zero – 4/10/16

This is the first in a series of daily posts that I intend to write over the next six or seven weeks about the attempt I am about to make at riding my bicycle across the country.

I sent three bikes – my two beautiful new steel Mariposas, pictured below at home just after their arrival a month ago, and my much older carbon fiber Parlee – on ahead to Los Angeles w...

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