Plastic cutlery at the Ayers-Dohrns? This is a sign of cultural rot. Why is bankrupt Illinois still funding this outfit?
Or maybe plastique?
UPDATE: State Humanities Councils receive support from the NEH. The House should put the NEH Chairman before an oversight Committee.
Megan McArdle on debt crises:
As I think I've said before, I used to cover financial crises (from America) and wonder why governments didn't do things that seemed so obvious. The answer, I now realize, is that politicians can't just do the "obvious best" thing. There is no such thing as a perfect rational maximizer in policymaking.
Politicians are always limited by what their voters think is fair. The voters may be right, they may be wrong, but in the end (hopefully), they're still the boss.
Contrary to Peter's post below, I think the most prudent conservative course of action is to vote for Gingrich--for now. The problem is that conservatives have the choice between a dynamic right-wing Progressive with a flawed moral past, one temperamentally ill-suited for executive power, and a soothing flip-flopper who appears constructed along corporate specs. Which will sell out conservative principles first? Which even knows what conservative constitutionalist principles are?
Unless some sort of white knight appears suddenly to save us (Paul Ryan, Clarence Thomas, Sarah Palin....), these are our choices. I propose a test: Vote for Newt, and see how tough, smart, and principled Mitt in return is. Can he show that he is the true, electable conservative? Will he respond with conservative arguments or try to emphasize his moderation? This is not merely Gingrich blowing up and defeating himself. Romney has to win it, and by showing that he is more conservative (not that he has led a better family life, etc.). The only way we can test Romney is by voting for Newt, until he proves himself less of an electable conservative than Romney..
Might this not make Gingrich the winner? True, this would give him victories in Iowa (important to crush Paul, btw), New Hampshire (or a close second), and down south. But proportional delegate sharing will keep the second-place person close, and then we'll see who the strongest conservative will be, or whether we have a conservative at all. Both may flunk the test, but that is a problem for another day.
It would be a bad thing for the future of conservatism to hand the victory to Newt Romney immediately. We would be getting a flawed, erratically right-wing candidate, or a corporate construct who might have defeated Ted Kennedy by being more liberal. Either would be better than Obama, but we can do better than the two choices as they present themselves now. A long, drawn-out campaign will improve both candidates or reveal their fatal flaws.
Our old friend Bob Reilly reflects on the difficulty of interfaith dialogues, taking the instance of Catholic-Muslim exchanges. He sketches how interpreting the seemingly simple episode of Adam's naming of the animals leads to fundamental disputes. The centrality of natural law and reason for Catholics does not appear to have an equivalent in Islam, making dialogue, as an exercise in reasoned speech, impossible on religion. Reilly's book The Closing of the Muslim Mind is a thoughtful study of the development of a Muslim radicalism and its sharpening of attitudes essential to Islam.
Bob's column came to me as I am plunging into a vital work by one of the academy's major thinkers, Robert Sokolowski, Phenomenology of the Human Person. It seems to be trying, among other things, to relate Aristotle's two descriptions of man: as the being with logos and the political animal by nature. Language enables this connection. Politics properly speaking requires persuasion, not brute force. Barbarians only babble; political men debate and deliberate. And for language to exist there must be grammar and syntax that enable us to distinguish between babytalk and real logos.