Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Men and Women

Defending Julia

Defending these other Julias--and not the woman in Orwell's 1984. From Robert Herrick:

WHENAS in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

... Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free ;
O how that glittering taketh me !

You really wanna get rough with Julia, try John Donne's "Julia," Elegy 14:

Her hands, I know not how, used more to spill
The food of others than herself to fill ;
But O ! her mind, that Orcus, which includes
Legions of mischiefs, countless multitudes
Of formless curses, projects unmade up,
Abuses yet unfashion'd, thoughts corrupt,
Misshapen cavils, palpable untroths,
Inevitable errors, self-accusing loaths.
These, like those atoms swarming in the sun,
Throng in her bosom for creation.
I blush to give her halfe her due ; yet say,
No poison's half so bad as Julia.

Finally, try Julia Shaw, who unfavorably compares Obama's Julia to Tocqueville's American woman, whose superiority was responsible for American greatness.

Categories > Men and Women


Obama as Composite

While autobiographies don't need to be factual in order to be worthwhile reading, the notion of self-creating persons as presidents strikes at the core of what it means to be a self-governing America. Andrew Malcolm rose to the occasion. See his portrayal of the young Obama, together with his then-lover, as a composite. Sample:

He had lived in exotic foreign places, he claimed, consumed strange foods and painfully recounted his longing for an absent father that caused him to wildly over-spend other people's money, desperately seeking to fill some hidden void by repairing bridges and hiring union teachers. He regularly talked of receiving dreams from his father.

Categories > Presidency



Julia has been the talk of the town here in Washington lately. President Obama's reelection campaign has come out with the "Life of Julia" on the campaign website, contrasting how Julia's life under President Obama would be different than under a Romney presidency. The Heritage Foundation has retorted with "A Better Life of Julia" on its website, while some libertarian-minded friends of mine have come up with their own vision of Julia's life here. All tell the tale of Julia, a name that has even been trending on Twitter of late. Biased as I am, though, I think the better story of Julia is told in this song by Chantal Kreviazuk and my uncle Johnny. The pair were sitting in a restaurant somewhere in Hollywood some years back and saw Julia Roberts at another table, so they decided to write a song about the pretty woman from Pretty Woman. Interesting refrain of the song, given the current use of the name: "Do they use you and then lose you/When you get scared again?/They could never forget you/But they could say they said your name,/Julia." Then there's always the song by the Beatles. "Half of what I say is meaningless/But I say it just to reach you,/Julia." Yes. Let's stick to the songs.
Categories > Elections

Political Philosophy

Leon Kass on the Real War on Poverty

At the AEI annual dinner Dr. Leon Kass explains life--work, love, service, and truth. He concludes with the need for hope:

In this most fundamental sense, hope is not a hope for change, but an affirmation of permanence, of the permanent possibility of a meaningful life in a hospitable world. Hope in this sense is not only a Judeo-Christian virtue. It is not only the most essential--and abundant--American virtue. It is the condition of the possibility of all human endeavor and all human fulfillment. Yes, there is still much spiritual poverty in America. But we go forward with confidence that our spiritual hungers can yet be nurtured in this almost promised land, provided that we have the courage to insist that the well-being of the spirit is central to our notion of national success and personal flourishing. This war on poverty--on our spiritual poverty--will not add a cent to the deficit. It can enrich our lives beyond measure.

Today, poverty, like pollution, needs a deeper understanding.

Come Home, Trent Lott: All is Forgiven

"Pretending to be mortally offended by some ancient remark or another continues to be an excellent strategy for getting people fired," laments Kevin Drum of Mother Jones. He expresses real outrage about the "faux outrage" that forced Al Armendariz to resign from the Environmental Protection Agency. The ancient remark that undid his public career was made in a speech two years ago, when Armendariz said that regulators should treat polluters "kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they'd find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years."

It's good to see this sign that enlightened thinkers are reaching a consensus: Pretending to be offended by some public figure's ancient remark in order to end that figure's career is a contemptible tactic. We can be confident this judgment will be made universally and equitably going forward. Otherwise, we'll be forced to consider the absurd idea that actions which are admirable when done by liberals are appalling when done to liberals.


A Primer on Middle East Democracy (Update)

Bob Reilly takes on neo-conservative Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht in today's Wall Street Journal. Reilly points out that a presupposition of democracy is solution of the religious issue--that is, freedom of conscience. That is, the American model remains the most reasonable means of establishing democratic self-government.

UPDATE: The Reilly letter in op-ed form.

Categories > Religion

Foreign Affairs

Today's History Lesson

Looking for a cheap lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant, got an education instead.


Categories > Foreign Affairs


The Politics of the OBL Killing

What has been underappreciated about Obama's decision to kill bin Laden was that he had planned it out in his mind years before. During the 2008 campaign he made news--e.g., this commentary--by declaring he would not hesitate to violate Pakistan's sovereignty if necessary. Obama must have asked himself what he could do to project foreign policy strengths while maintaining internationalist credentials. The most politically popular goal was to get Osama, and he reverse-engineered how this might happen: increased drone strikes, for one. When intelligence connected enough dots, he made his move, and he won. This victory of course does not excuse a multitude of other sins, all intended to force America into multilateral agreements, even in a good cause (e.g., Libya). If anything, the killing of bin Laden is the exception that proves the rule about Obama's often feckless foreign policy.
Categories > Presidency


Right in the Middle

AEI's on-line magazine, The American, posits that "Middle America is a clear picture of how much the basics matter: Cost of living, job quality, schools, and opportunities to develop the right skills for the best jobs."

The Midwest's story is important because it serves in significant ways as a regional microcosm of how growth and opportunity should look in America today.

In a recent study we look at trends that upend the conventional wisdom about the Midwest. We find that it is neither doomed to a slow and dirty demise like an old house on an eroding slope, nor forced to reinvent itself Dubai-style in order to compete with Silicon Valley or Manhattan. The Midwest's future is rooted very much in its past--but with some important updates.

What do we mean? For starters, this means capitalizing on Americans' desire to reside where the cost of living and doing business is favorable. As the last Census showed, Americans move in droves to regions where the cost of living is low, businesses face fewer obstacles, and workers have choices. As Wendell Cox and Joel Kotkin have shown, this goes for 25- to 35-year-olds as well as 55- to 65-year-olds. People want options and a good quality of life at a price they can afford.

In the Midwest, these trends have favored placed like Columbus, Ohio . . . .

Noting that 83% of manufacturers nationwide complain of "a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers," the authors suggest that the Midwest is on the verge of a "new industrial paradigm," which will be "characterized by a blend of heavy manufacturing, new technology, a more highly educated industrial labor base, and lighter labor restrictions." That last factor is a reference to labor law reforms such as the recent movement to quell labor unions and establish "right-to-work" states.

When you add to all of this the new energy sources discovered in some parts of the Midwest--such as new finds in Utica shale in Ohio--a new industrial paradigm in the region could end up being a large source of new wealth creation in the coming generation.

Let us hope that Ohio may provide the model by which to lead America from economic malaise. But to do so, those who are opposed to labor reform and who wish to suppress natural gas production will have to be defeated. Unions and environmentalists - that is, Democrats - continue to prioritize self-interest and disfavored ideologies above economic recovery. One hopes that these factors will influence voters in Ohio, the Midwest and throughout America in November.

Categories > Economy


What Are Millennials Thinking?

I wrote a post yesterday on the prevailing political priorities among young voters, which is complemented by this 2012 Millennial Values Survey of "Religion, Values and Politics among College-Age Millennials." The findings are remarkable. For example:

  • 40% describe themselves more negatively than their parents; only 19% more positively.
  • 40% believe in the American Dream; 10% say it never existed.
  • 73% believe economics unfairly favor the rich; similar numbers favor reforms to raise the poor and soak the rich.
  • Evenly divided on whether the government pays too much attention to minorities and whether discrimination against whites is as much a problem as discrimination against minorities.
  • Strong majorities believe that Christianity has good values and expresses love, but also believe that it is anti-gay and judgmental.
The report is an interesting read. While it is not likely a window into the future - since liberalism in youth often matures to conservatism in adulthood - it is nevertheless useful as a reflection of the mores and lessons currently being inculcated into the young.
Categories > Education


Is Slow Growth Actually Good for the Economy?

So reads NPR's latest headline - a 2012 candidate for the media's most shameless attempt to spin bad news in favor of Obama. The U.S. economy slows at an inopportune moment in the election cycle and NPR responds with "Is Slow Growth Actually Good for the Economy?" You can't make this stuff up.

James Taranto takes up the theme of the poodle media and Obama's unseemliness in today's Best of the Web, wondering whether "A more aggressive press corps might have motivated him to preserve his dignity." This seems to be a certainty. Obama - and liberals in general - are able to behave in particularly classless ways with the confidence that the higher they rise in the hierarchy, the more deference they'll receive from the media. The inverse is true for Republicans. (Fox News excluded, of course.) Taranto lists a few of the media's hypocrisies and a few of Obama's less dignified moments

UPDATE: NPR has changed the article title to "Is Moderate Growth Good for the Economy?" It seems even NPR has a modicum of shame.
Categories > Journalism