Billionaire Activists

The much-vaunted separation of the 1 percent, or 1 percent of the 1 percent, from the rest of society doesn’t mean simply that some people have many more homes and cars and planes than the rest of us; nor does it mean they can simply finance an insurgent candidate who might not otherwise be viable (as was the case with some antiwar Democrats in the late ’60s). It means they possess a truly enormous power to shape perceptions in our society, to bend democracy more than was possible before. What can we call such a system? Clearly Robert Dahl’s “polyarchy” concept needs serious revision. Who might undertake it?

Scott McConnell
Who Governs?”
The American Conservative
January 21, 2015

Getting it Right with Jefferson on Religion

Jefferson and religious liberty: The father of freedom

The Economist
2 January 2015

It is not uncommon for those arguing a point on the nature of the church-state relationship in America to refer back to the writings of Thomas Jefferson, who was instrumental in the formulation of that concept in an American context.

In this superb article, The Economist reminds all of us who would use Jefferson to support our particular view of religion in America to first have the intellectual honesty to read all of what he wrote on the subject without looking for points of agreement. We should instead take what he wrote for face value, and then decide what it means.

I spent my 50th birthday at Monticello, and have a growing stack of Jeffersonia in my reading pile. As The Economist notes, Jefferson’s beliefs on the topic were complex and evolved throughout his life. We would do well to respect – and understand – the nuances of his thinking.

Oh, and add Doubting Thomas: The Religious Life and legacy of Thomas Jefferson to your Bull Moose reading list.

A New Kind of Realism

It is necessary to present an alternative to the bipartisan foreign-policy consensus that has caused the United States to bounce from one ill-conceived military intervention to the next, with results that range from inconclusive to disastrous. Since the most extreme version of that consensus dominates Republican thinking, it would be optimal for the alternative to take root in the GOP.

Here’s How Rand Paul’s Conservative Realism Could Change the GOP”
W. James Antle III

The American Conservative
October 27, 2014

Exactly. I’m not ready to support Rand Paul – not by a long shot. But what he’s saying on foreign policy makes sense, and it behooves all of us in the GOP to see this as a welcome step away from the tired, disproven tropes of neoconservative foreign policy.

A Flawed “Selma”

The movie ‘Selma’ has a glaring flaw
Joseph A. Califano, Jr.
The Washington Post
ecember 26, 2014

I read this story with great disappointment. Leave aside that Hollywood felt it necessary to take preposterous creative license with the Exodus story – much of Hollywood and the American intelligensia regard the Bible as a book of dangerous fairy tales anyway, so such behavior is to be expected.

But to take a dramatization of a seminal event in recent American history and turn it into a polemic by twisting or ignoring the truth is an insult to the subject matter, to the audiences, and to the truth. The history was there for all to learn. It was simply dumped in favor of greater drama, just as it was in The Butler, Oliver Stone’s JFK, Disney’s Pocahantas, and any historical film starring Mel Gibson.

My family will be giving “Selma” a miss, and it is a shame, because the film was a missed opportunity to educate our children on what really happened in the Civil Rights movement. Hollywood has a right to make films that will sell tickets. It toys with history at our risk.

Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center

Majority Sees U.S. Leadership in Space as Essential – Pew Research Center.

The finding here, no surprise, is that Americans still want to be leaders in space, especially as China gears up to challenge the US lead at some point in the future.

The problem, of course, is that America can no longer afford that leadership if it is going to rely entirely upon government largesse, or upon a NASA that is still lurching uncertainly toward its future.

The American space program needs a rethink, one that neither hogs the effort for the government, nor dumps the burden of off-planet development onto the backs of the private sector. It is, in short, time for a new vision of space that incorporates a public-private partnership and the means to pay for the public part of that effort.

Obama has failed to heed the wisdom of the U.S. Middle East policy of the 1950s, as explored by Alsop and others at the time. He remains mired in the same thinking that started with George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and has generated growing chaos in the region ever since.

Robert W. Merry
Obama’s ISIS Strategy: Doomed for Failure
The National Interest
November 1, 2014

Let us criticize the President for his doomed strategy. But let us not forget that the problem is not one of politics, but of a worldview that he and his advisors have inherited.

This is not a partisan issue. This is an American issue. And we must approach it accordingly.

The American Conservative and The New Republic

Something really interesting is happening here. Conservative columnists like Rod Dreher are publicly mourning the evisceration of the editorial staff of left-wing publication The New Republic. Oh, sure, there is a little schadenfreude, but most of the angst is about how TNR is self-immolating, and what a sad thing that is.

It may be wishful thinking, but I detect under all of this a simple fact: intelligent people who find themselves on opposite sides of the political aisle can still respect each other, even when they disagree fiercely.

We could use a little more of that in America. Maybe then we could knock off the character assassination and obstructionism and get back to the work of the People.