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...

Read More

Not Done Yet

Every now and then when I hear time’s winged chariot hurrying near I feel the need to write about personal matters. Self-indulgent, I know, but a compulsion. Today is one of those days.

I went out for a group ride this morning and was totally destroyed in, and by, the fast portion of the ride. With about a third of a mile to go in the three or four mile section that the local morning ride group races every day, I was spit out by the peloton of faster riders, unable to accelerate to the speed of the final sprint. Not only was I not in the hunt for victory, I was roadkill. They waited for me after the finish line – a well-established ritual that is meant to be kind but feels a little humiliating to the vanquished, as I now know.

The morning ride’s rituals have been set for nearly thirty ...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Public Companies

Insofar as these posts have a consistent theme (a proposition sometimes questioned by friends), it is that people should almost always be expected to behave as they are incentivized to behave and equally expected to avoid taking actions that are penalized. So if on-the-books work, saving and other broadly responsible/self-reliant/socially contributory behaviors are seriously disadvantaged by our tax and entitlement systems, and they are, we should expect that those who are proportionally most affected by those systems, i.e., the poor, will behave in manners not pleasing to the bourgeois eye. To condemn those so situated for responding rationally to the incentives and disincentives we put before them is ridiculous.

What I have not yet touched upon that is equally true and based on the exact...

Read More

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...

Read More