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A Flurry of Good Articles


I think I am focused or fairly discriminating on what I post from other writers, but over the years I have gravitated toward only a few.  Kevin Williamson and Charles Cooke of National Review are two of the most used. National Review has a large stable with creative and original writer including Jonah Goldberg, David French and many others.

Jonah Goldberg wrote Liberal Fascism in 2008 and I recently reread it as I have focused most of my reading on the history and evolution of Progressivism.  I keep a copy of this book in a prominent spot in my library since the cover is so offensive to my liberal friends.


Worthy articles that fit my filter seem spotty. I may not find anything for weeks and then there is a flurry of great pieces.

Deirdre McCloskey had a great piece in the weekend WSJ How the West Got Rich – It is excerpted and commented on a few posts away. It is  is adapted from her new book, “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World,” on my reading queue.

Kevin Williamson has been on a roll his his recent piece Engineering Better Voters shows an independent writing style that takes conservative and progressive views to task.  Note: National Review changes or uses titles after initial postings –  something much easier to do online.

And Charles Cooke raised an issue with Trump that I have considered, but not in the articulate manner Cooke has- that Trump’s supreme irony may be that he may make the Progressives question the premise of a strong central government. Maybe the liberal may come to learn that the right’s concern with Obama’s use of power was not his race. Read Is Trump’s Rise Giving Progressives Second Thoughts? 

Some great reading recently with excerpts posted nearby.  Some of these articles are quite rich in content and difficult for me to cull into a short post. I encourage you to read the links in full


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Political Inactivism

kevin williamson

Kevin Williamson is probably one of the most excerpted writers on Rebel Yid.  I was fortunate to meet him lat year at Freedom Fest in Las Vegas. He has a creative and unconventional way of viewing the great debates. He gets beyond the left and right platitudes.

The entire link merits your viewing.

From Kevin at National Review, Engineering Better Voters:

It isn’t that voters are not profoundly ignorant, it’s just that making them less ignorant isn’t really going to help much on Election Day, because political preferences are not, in the main, a function of knowledge.

Progressives are a funny bunch in that they do sincerely believe that government should be empowered, almost without limitation, to do the will of the People, who are sovereign, but they imagine that the People speak with one voice, or at least that they should speak with one voice. When the People get froggy and refuse to fall in line behind, say, the Affordable Care Act, which the best experts drew up on behalf of the People, who (so the story goes) gave Barack Obama a mandate to reform health care, then something must be wrong. And we all know what that is: Too much debate and too much political discourse including too many voices, some of which — those of Charles and David Koch, for instance — must be silenced in order for the People to be heard as one voice, the way it was intended. (No, we are not allowed to ask: Intended by Whom?) So we arrive at the strange situation in which the Left desires maximal formal participation in democratic processes but heavy restriction of everything ancillary to those processes, most especially political speech.

The cynic might here observe that what’s really going on may be something entirely different, that progressives want more participation by voters because they assume that those new voters will agree with them, and less participation in political discourse because they believe that those new voices are less likely to support them, while conservatives want fewer voters because they believe the ones remaining will be more conservative, while they do not worry about all the new forms of political persuasion because those have been mainly conservative. And it probably is the case that many among our political professionals are exactly that calculating.

What is actually needed is a set of conditions under which fewer questions are decided by democratic politics, which is, even in its highly refined American form, a pretty blunt instrument. Some questions are inherently political, but most are not. We needed a positive act of the federal government to rally the country in making war on the Nazis, but invading Normandy is a different thing from invading the kindergarten toilets in Grover, N.C. I’m with Henry David Thoreau: “I heartily accept the motto,—‘That government is best which governs least;’ and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.”

Which is to say, there’s a time for political activism, but we could do with a bit of political inactivism, too.

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The Beast Is Us


from National Review, Kevin Williamson, Starving the Beast in Kansas:

Unserious men promise to Starve the Beast and balance budgets by eliminating “waste, fraud, and abuse,” the formulation relied upon by, among others, Donald Trump, 2016’s poster-boy for terminal unseriousness. Delusional politicians insist that significant tax cuts can be offset by simple gains in efficiency — but if it were that simple, then why not implement those cost-saving measures first and the tax cuts afterward?

(Answer: Because it is not simple.)

There are gross spending abuses at every level of government, from Harry Reid’s federally subsidized cowboy-poetry festivals to million-dollar paydays for superintendents of small suburban school districts. These are work for the meat cleaver, not the scalpel. But about 80 percent of what the federal government does is Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other health-care spending, national defense, and paying interest on debts incurred by previous Congress’s refusal to implement taxes sufficient to pay for that spending. Most of what state and local governments spend their money on is public schools, state universities, police, roads, and ordinary municipal services. Yes, it’s bonkers that Lubbock, Texas, spends about a quarter-million a year on a city manager, but that’s still chump change compared with what schools and police cost.

We are not going to balance the federal budget without cutting Social Security and other popular entitlements as well as the military, and Kansas is not going to bring its spending down to match a lower revenue line without touching education and the roads. It isn’t going to happen.

Yes, conservatives believe in smaller government, but conservatives also believe in prudence — and that our political calculations must in the end take account of reality. And here’s the reality that every politician eventually discovers: You can promise to Starve the Beast, but in the end, the Beast is Us.

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Change and Vandalism


from Charles Cooke at National Review, Conservatives Refuse to Repeat the Mistakes of History (a fundraising letter)

Tricky as it may be to acknowledge, the eternal verities care little for the zeitgeist. Fashions may change, and the shape of the mob may morph, but the truth does not. Markets, not governments, yield real and sustainable progress. Strength, not weakness, is the finest prophylactic against war. Laws, not benevolent men, serve as the guarantor of Liberty. There is nothing old-fashioned about civil society or local knowledge; no evolution that will render our Constitution moot; no technological replacement for a healthy and humble admiration of the divine. Each generation must learn these axioms anew, and if it does not, we will face decline and fall.

Properly understood, American conservatism is no enemy of advancement and change. On the contrary: Commerce, as Schumpeter put it, is the author of creative destruction; Socialism on the other hand, is a boon to the status quo. But there is change and then there is vandalism; there is the man who cycles his crops and then the man who torches his field; there are those who wish to revise, and then there are those who wish to burn all that came before them to the ground. G.K. Chesterton held that one should never tear down a fence before one understands why it is there. Ensuring we understand why our fences stand where they do is a tireless and never-ending job.

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Isolationism on the Left and Right


from The World According to Trump by Charles Krauthammer in National Review:

Both the Left and the Right have a long history of advocating American retreat and retrenchment. The difference is that liberals want to come home because they think we are not good enough for the world. Conservatives want to wash their hands of the world because they think the world is not good enough for us.

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