All posts filed under: Political Discussion & Analysis

Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages (Anne Mendelson)

I hate milk. I find many of the recipes in this book frankly loathsome, were I to try them, which I won’t. On the other hand, I like science and history (and ice cream). So despite my stomach churning at some of the recipes and descriptions, I actually enjoyed reading this book.

The Demon In Democracy (Ryszard Legutko)

There is a scene in Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, in which a character comes across a book of philosophy (Schopenhauer) and realizes in a soaring epiphany that it contains the answers to all of life’s questions.  For me, this book served much the same purpose—it explained to me why certain things are the way they are in the modern world.  Although, sadly, it did not explain “all of life’s questions,” such as what is contained in Area 51.  (I will also gloss over that the character in Mann’s novel quickly forgets the supposed answers and then drops dead of a tooth infection.)

Analysis: On The Growth In Political Intolerance; Or, The Days of Rage

As we all know, one of the results of the rise of social media is that people are able to communicate their political views more often, in fact continuously, to their friends and acquaintances. We can leave aside that most of this is utterly inane, most of this is virtue-signaling, and little of it is helpful in reaching common ground. My focus here is on a subset of such discussions—those among highly educated, intelligent and rational people who have personally known each other for a long time. We can call these people the “Rationals Known To Each Other,” or “RKTEOs.”

Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left (Roger Scruton)

It is easy enough to know what the Right thinks, and why.  Half a dozen recent books can easily be found explaining clearly libertarianism; or social conservatism; or “reform conservatism.”  But no such thing exists for the Left.  Yes, there are many books on what political ends the Left desires.  I think those desires are mostly insane and fly in the face of reality.  But it cannot be true that those on the Left view their desires, or what drives their desires, as either insane or senseless.  And one must know one’s enemy.  So why are those ends desired?  I have always found that hard to say.

Colloquy: Why Conservatives Don’t Care About “Russian Email Hacks”

[Italics are my interlocutor; regular text is me.] I honestly don’t understand this “Russian hacking” thing. As I understand it, somebody (apparently presumably the Russians) stole private Democratic emails damaging to the Democrats and publicized them. This allegedly somehow supposedly “rigged” the election. As far as I can tell, there is no claim of actual rigging (vote fraud, etc.). And the emails are all true and correct. But if someone had stolen similarly damaging Republican emails and sent them to the NYT, the NYT would immediately have published them, been widely praised for their “scoop,” preened about the importance of their action, and told Republicans that “Americans have a right to know.” What am I missing? Any Democrats want to illuminate this for me? . . . I suppose that if there was “coordination/complicity” with the Trump campaign that would be news. But there appears to be no evidence whatsoever of that, or even any allegation of it–the focus is all on the Big, Bad Russians. (And, of course, when old Trump tax documents were …

What Washington Gets Wrong (Jennifer Bachner and Benjamin Ginsberg)

“What Washington Gets Wrong” shows, by polling statistics, what we all know already. Namely, that those who run the government, from Capitol City—sorry, from Washington—not only think differently from Americans as whole, but also have different policy priorities and have deep contempt for most Americans. This isn’t a surprise, because this is the nature of every bureaucratic ruling class throughout history, though ours is both less monetarily corrupt than usual, and more ideologically corrupt than usual. But these basic facts are interesting and useful to see proven and quantified, and even more interesting, to me, are some of the authors’ suggestions to alleviate the problem—which I think don’t go far enough, but would at least be a start.

Analysis: Does Political Correctness Exist Among Conservatives?

[This is a reaction requested from me regarding a Washington Post article, by Alex Nowrasteh, titled “The right has its own version of political correctness. It’s just as stifling.”] This is not convincing, because it posits a false analogy.  (It is also extremely badly written.)  The analogy is false because it falsely defines “political correctness.”  Conservatives don’t regard PC as bad because it shows that people have strong feelings, or because those feelings are believed to be irrational.  (A side note:  PC has been around for 30 years, not 10.  See my review of Thiel’s “The Diversity Myth,” which was written in 1996.)  They regard PC as bad because in wide swathes of America, and disproportionately in elite occupations, it is used as both reason and mechanism to punish those who fail to toe the line on whatever today’s PC orthodoxy is.  (That orthodoxy, and the weighting of its different tenets, as with any religion substitute ideology, shifts constantly—see, e.g., transgender rights.)  That is, PC imports ideological concepts as a tool to punish and silence ideological opponents, …

Colloquy: Not-For-Profits Are Not Inherently Virtuous and “Giving Back” Is A Stupid Term

[This is a colloquy between myself and a  friend of mine.  Italics are her; regular text is me.  She is responding initially to a comment I had made about “evil not-for-profits.”] I don’t understand, but without the rhetoric, I really want to see the world through your eyes regarding your comment about “evil not-for-profit…” How is it that people who sacrifice so much for others are evil? I’m a corporate attorney and admire the heck out of people able to do something I’m too greedy to do. While they walk the walk (of spiritual leaders, etc.), I’m just a coward saving money for my own kids’ education, etc. How are they “evil”? Mostly it’s a joke, meant to highlight the absurdity of classifying a businessman as inherently evil. But, given that you ask, here are some thoughts: 1) What makes you think people who work for “not-for-profit” entities “sacrifice so much for others”? That may be true for some, a very few. Let’s say, for example, Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. But generally, that’s not …

Render Unto Caesar (Charles Chaput)

Charles Chaput, now archbishop of Philadelphia, is probably the most prominent traditionally orthodox Catholic prelate in America. There exists, of course, more than one traditionally orthodox prelate (though fewer now, given that Pope Francis is deliberately reducing their numbers). But Chaput has the talent and drive to operate in the public square, to write and talk on the intersection of Catholic doctrine and public life. In fact, as of this week he has been in the news for a speech on this topic at Notre Dame. And next year, in 2017, he has a new book coming out on “Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World.” This book, “Render Unto Caesar,” nearly ten years old, was his first book-length foray into the struggles faced by Christians against attempts to exclude them from the public square. This is a topic that has only become more pressing, and timely, because the day is already late.

It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies (Mary Eberstadt)

Mary Eberstadt’s It’s Dangerous To Believe offers very clear analysis and very wrong recommendations. Eberstadt eloquently describes how the elite and powerful in today’s America have subscribed to a new religion, the religion of sexual autonomy without limit, and are increasingly using their immense power to punish heretics, in the form of traditional believers. But, because she misapprehends the historical processes at work, she fails to adequately address how the targets of oppression can, or should, respond, and her actual suggestions are harmful fantasies.