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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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 other than the guy who was who I have been?

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 th...

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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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Small Miracles

Have you ever considered what an absolute miracle it is that you exist?

I don’t mean that life exists – I accept that when the right molecules are present with, oh I don’t know, electricity and the right atmospheric circumstances, the process that leads to life becomes a possibility, so if all those elements are present at enough times on enough planets, it’ll happen – I mean you, the person who is reading this blog post. You know, the one with particular (and, unless you are an identical twin, unique) DNA, who was raised in circumstances that only you know about, many of which were effectively random, and who is probably just now wondering: where’s he going with this? You.

Even ignoring the particulars, up to and including the innumerable times when your life might have ended ...

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An Apologia for Civil Horizon

We sometimes don’t know why we do what we do; we may even hold tight to perspectives about our motivations that others – or even we ourselves – will later rightly conclude did not reflect reality.

For a poignant example, consider the Civil War. Most of the soldiers in blue fought to save the union as, initially, did President Lincoln; though he hated slavery, Lincoln saw the possible dissolution of the union as a more immediate evil. And if, in 1860, he had issued a call for volunteers to fill an army to eradicate slavery, few would have signed up.

Reciprocally, in most of their minds, the Confederates fought to defend their states against ‘the War of Northern Aggression’ under the banner of states’ rights – the theory being that if a state could freely join the union, it could surely ...

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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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