We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
If one of the disadvantages of an elite education is the temptation it offers to mediocrity, another is the temptation it offers to security. When parents explain why they work so hard to give their children the best possible education, they invariably say it is because of the opportunities it opens up. But what of the opportunities it shuts down? An elite education gives you the chance to be rich—which is, after all, what we’re talking about—but it takes away the chance not to be. Yet the opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed. We live in a society that is itself so wealthy that it can afford to provide a decent living to whole classes of people who in other countries exist (or in earlier times existed) on the brink of poverty or, at least, of indignity. You can live comfortably in the United States as a schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or an artist—that is, by any reasonable definition of comfort. You have to live in an ordinary house instead of an apartment in Manhattan or a mansion in L.A.; you have to drive a Honda instead of a BMW or a Hummer; you have to vacation in Florida instead of Barbados or Paris, but what are such losses when set against the opportunity to do work you believe in, work you’re suited for, work you love, every day of your life?
Yet it is precisely that opportunity that an elite education takes away. How can I be a schoolteacher—wouldn’t that be a waste of my expensive education? Wouldn’t I be squandering the opportunities my parents worked so hard to provide? What will my friends think? How will I face my classmates at our 20th reunion, when they’re all rich lawyers or important people in New York? And the question that lies behind all these: Isn’t it beneath me? So a whole universe of possibility closes, and you miss your true calling.
Read the whole thing (link above).
A photo of the Yale campus, designed to make clever if snot-nosed kids buy into the illusion that they are 19th century aristocrats at Oxford or Cambridge rather than the humble but literate Congregationalist pastors Yale was originally created to produce:
And Tiger on the NYT on Heller. A quote: "There are plenty of Constitutional rights that drive inefficient, inconvenient, or even unwise public policy. One can recognize that a right exists and deplore the consequences of the right." Lots of wisdom in that simple sentence. Rights aren't about efficiency or even effectiveness - they are about human dignity and freedom. As the old saw goes, "Mussolini got the Italian trains to run on time."
The insane world of Congress. Powerline. Nevertheless, House Dems seem headed for a "permanent majority." Even if deserved, it's a depressing thought because they do not seem to understand even the basics of free market economics - or to value freedom as I understand it.
I have no problem whatsoever with physicians easing terminal peoples' path out of life with merciful doses of morphine, but I have great problems with the Brave New World of government rationing of medical care, and the hustling of people into death to save money as they seem inclined to do in the UK, Canada...and in Oregon.
We have, at last, arrived. The destination was never much in doubt — once the threshold of medical manslaughter had been breached, wrapped as always in comforting words of compassion and dignity, it was only a matter of time before our pragmatism trumped our principles. Once the absolute that physicians should be healers not hangmen was heaved overboard, it was inevitable that the relentless march of relativism would reach its logical port of call.
In my view, easy abortion was the first big step in the direction of removing the annoying inconvenience of a human life. Perhaps it would be most expedient - or utilitarian - to do us in the minute we stop paying income taxes...assuming our function is to serve the "common good." Or at the moment of our birth, because it is certain that we will become expensively ill someday.
And when it comes to medical treatment in general, I like TigerHawk's idea much better than any governmental idea. WallMart! Just as long as I have my own doc who knows me and cares about me first.
“The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right...”
Without self-defense, a person becomes a sheep in a world with wolves.
Bravo to the five Justices who honor our Constitution over their personal preferences, and bravo to Justice Scalia for putting it all in historical context. The justices' personal opinions should have no role in their job: it's not what they are paid to do. After all, everybody has an opinion on everything. Opinions on stuff are a dime a dozen.
Anyway, it's a big step in the right direction. More later...
The DC gun ban case should be out this morning. It won't be the be-all and end-all, but it will be interesting.
Why the Left abandoned Darfur. A quote from Bernard-Henri Levy at SC&A:
We are prisoners of a scheme of thought in which, if you are a victim and if you don’t play a role, if you don’t have a part on the big stage, in the big history, in the big tale of the opposition of the evil empire and the good anti-imperialist forces, you don’t really deserve attention.
Why passenger trains don't work in the US: Charlie Martin at Pajamas
Dems want the fairness doctrine back. At Tiger: "There should be no doubt that this is nothing less than a broadside attack on freedom of speech."
Another guy eaten by a Mountain Lion. Too bad they won't stick with healthy fruits and vegetables. I guess they haven't had the advantage of modern nutritional "science." It's best to be armed in serious lion country. You can't throw them a banana any more than you can throw a Jihadist a pork chop.
Anatomy of surrender. Bruce Bawer in City Journal: "Motivated by fear and multiculturalism, too many Westerners are acquiescing to creeping sharia."
Global warming causes terrorism? Add it to the list. I'm pretty sure it causes my Athlete's Foot, too.
Our blog friend at Squaring the Boston Globe is resigning from blogging following his wife's cancer diagnosis. We will miss his good work, but it's the right thing to do. Best to his family, and God's presence.
And, speaking of witchhunts, has it occurred to Americans that those evil evil oil speculators might not be American? Hong Kong to have its own commodities exchange. Chart on the left from the piece at Dino.
Imus interviewed Rolling Stone's Jan Wenner this morning, about Wenner's recent interview of Obama. (Wenner is an Obamamaniac, but it's all about style for him. And "change" - as Wenner profoundly said, and I paraphrase: "Everything is going so wrong. We all want change today.")
Anyway, Wenner said that Obama told him that his favorite song is Dylan's Maggies Farm, which he has on his iPod. Clearly we enjoy the spirit of the song too, but if Obama really wants to be a cool dude, he needs to get hip to Maggie's Farm blog.
He was asking, "Has Europe's terminal crisis begun with a triple no vote?", telling us that, "The ultra-Europeans have overplayed their hand," and then asserting: "We can now glimpse a chain of events that will halt, and reverse, this extremist push towards an Über-state that almost no one wants."
He may be right when he says: "the attempt to override the triple "no" votes of the French, Dutch, and Irish peoples has brought the EU to a systemic crisis of legitimacy," adding, "A line too many has been crossed. Any sentient citizen can see that the process has become unhinged."
To say that the luminaries of the conference disappointed my hopes is to understate things. But to say that that were luminous is to be perfectly accurate. I’ll just name three of the most prominent and powerful:
• Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanouglu of Turkey. • Former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. • His Royal Highness Prince Turki bin Faisal al Saud, former director of Saudi intelligence, and until recently the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
These men are educated… well traveled… experienced… wealthy… and Westernized. And each of them told the conference that for the West and Islam to reconcile, the West must abandon the principle of free speech.
Part 2 of the Pew study of religion in America has been issued. It shows that there is a lot of non-dogmatic religious thinking going on, which is no surprise really. An excerpt from the piece on the subject in the CSM:
On some basics, the American faithful are much alike. Ninety-two percent believe in God, including 70 percent of those not connected with any religion. Three-quarters believe in life after death, and 79 percent believe in miracles.
Prayer is a widespread practice, in which 75 percent engage at least weekly and 58 percent daily. Thirty-four percent say they have experienced or witnessed a divine healing of an illness or injury.
Yet divergent perspectives coexist within many traditions. In regard to the conception of God, 60 percent of Americans believe in a personal God, while 25 percent believe in an impersonal force or universal spirit. Eastern Orthodox Christians split 49 to 34 percent on this question, while Muslims divide evenly, 41 to 42 percent. Among Jews, 25 percent believe in a personal God and 50 percent in an impersonal force.
No one likes war. War is a horrific affair, bloody and expensive. Sending our men and women into battle to perhaps die or be maimed is an unconscionable thought.
Yet some wars need to be waged, and someone needs to lead. The citizenry and Congress are often ambivalent or largely opposed to any given war. It's up to our leader to convince them. That's why we call the leader "Commander in Chief."
George W.'s war was no different. There was lots of resistance to it. Many in Congress were vehemently against the idea. The Commander in Chief had to lobby for legislative approval.
Along with supporters, George W. used the force of his convictions, the power of his title and every ounce of moral suasion he could muster to rally support. He had to assure Congress and the public that the war was morally justified, winnable and affordable. Congress eventually came around and voted overwhelmingly to wage war.
George W. then lobbied foreign governments for support. But in the end, only one European nation helped us. The rest of the world sat on its hands and watched.
After a few quick victories, things started to go bad. There were many dark days when all the news was discouraging. Casualties began to mount. It became obvious that our forces were too small. Congress began to drag its feet about funding the effort.
Many who had voted to support the war just a few years earlier were beginning to speak against it and accuse the Commander in Chief of misleading them. Many critics began to call him incompetent, an idiot and even a liar. Journalists joined the negative chorus with a vengeance.
As the war entered its fourth year, the public began to grow weary of the conflict and the casualties. George W.'s popularity plummeted. Yet through it all, he stood firm, supporting the troops and endorsing the struggle.
Without his unwavering support, the war would have surely ended, then and there, in overwhelming and total defeat.
At this darkest of times, he began to make some changes. More troops were added and trained. Some advisers were shuffled, and new generals installed.
Then, unexpectedly and gradually, things began to improve. Now it was the enemy that appeared to be growing weary of the lengthy conflict and losing support. Victories began to come, and hope returned.
Many critics in Congress and the press said the improvements were just George W.'s good luck. The progress, they said, would be temporary. He knew, however, that in warfare good fortune counts.
Then, in the unlikeliest of circumstances and perhaps the most historic example of military luck, the enemy blundered and was resoundingly defeated. After six long years of war, the Commander in Chief basked in a most hard-fought victory.
So on that historic day, Oct. 19, 1781, in a place called Yorktown, a satisfied George Washington sat upon his beautiful white horse and accepted the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.
Is the European Union heading for a Yugoslavian-style denouement? It sometimes looks as if its political class, oblivious to the wishes or concerns of the EU’s various populations, is determined to bring one about. The French and the Dutch voted against the proposed European Constitution, but that did not deter the intrepid political class from pressing ahead with its plans for a superstate that no one else wants. To bypass the wishes of the people, the politicos reintroduced the constitution as a treaty, to be ratified by parliaments alone. Only the Irish had the guts—or was it the foolhardiness?—to hold a referendum on the issue. Unfortunately, the Irish people got the answer wrong.
The power of universities comes from their monopoly of credentials. As Richard Vedder so deeply understands in his “Going Broke by Degree,” they are the only institutions allowed to separate young individuals by IQ and by the ability to complete complex tasks. They do not add value to that, except in technical fields. Recruiters do not pay premiums because of what the Ivy League or the flagship state universities teach in English, history, political science, or sociology. They hire there despite, not because of, that. Recruiters do not pay premiums because our children have been sent to multicultural centers for sensitivity training. Recruiters pay premiums for the value already there, which universities merely identify. So long as recruiters pay premiums, however, it is rational for parents who wish to gain the most options for their children to send them to the university with the most prestigious degree. That will not change in the current scheme.