Trump Supporters and Dignity

A stab at the question from a Democrat whose friends alternate between Bernie and the candidate she names "old Hilda Baggins."
Thing is, Trump supporters don’t vote against their best interests, democrats just don’t understand the interest they care about most.

It’s dignity.


America is terrible at giving its citizens dignity and meaning. We have, with the internet, the power for more people to be appreciated than ever before, yet we use it primarily to shame each other. Shaming Trump supporters for being “ignorant bigots” is the worst thing you can do, because their entire motivation in voting for Trump is to alleviate the shame they are already carrying. If you add to their shame, they will dig in further.

It is, obviously, difficult to think about ways to reduce shame on a national level but we have to start finding ways to have more appreciation for each other, even those we disagree with. At the most basic level we can start by not explicitly shaming people. We can stop calling them ignorant. We can stop mocking them on the internet. We can stop calling them out on twitter.
I wonder.

"America is terrible at giving its citizens dignity and meaning." Well, it doesn't try. The Catholic Church tries to help people find dignity and meaning. America sets you free to find your own, in whatever way you like. The American project is about liberty: your dignity is assumed to be guaranteed by your status as a free man or woman.

Whatever esteem you aspire to beyond that, that's for you to build somehow. How? That's up to you, too.

Along the way, you're expected to shift for yourself somehow too. Here's where the trouble comes along: increasingly because of technology, those who earn first in unskilled and now in many skilled ways face competition from the poorest places on earth. Increasingly, because of technology, you also compete with robots that can work 24 hours a day at a fraction of the cost of a human worker.

If you think dignity comes from work, you're in bad shape. But dignity is at least tied up with work, because work is how you get resources, and your status in the community depends on your ability to wield resources. We expect you to pay for everything you use. If you own a home, we expect you to pay taxes on it every year, and will take it from you the minute you can't. If dignity includes having security in a place in the world, it depends in America on having the ability to earn adequate resources.

Probably it does everywhere, really, no matter what schemes are set up to mask that fact.

It's an interesting stab, in any case. The author, one Emma Lindsay -- good Scottish name, that -- deserves credit for having written it. Just the moment at which she proposes to look beyond racism, rather than stopping with it as sufficient cause to condemn, is stunning coming at this time and place and from someone of her particular 'tribe.'

Maybe there's some value to all this Trump business after all. It's at least stimulating some interesting thoughts.

Kansas Goes Sanders, Too

OK, so Kansas is just one little state, and a caucus. Clinton won Louisiana's primary election, which was another Southern state, where she is running a lot stronger than elsewhere.

Still, it shows that the nomination fight is still a fight on the Democratic Party side.

UPDATE: Not quite finished on the Republican side, either.

Noonan Mourns Her Party

It must be especially sad for someone who was a part of the Reagan revolution, itself an insurgent campaign against an earlier Republican establishment.
And I find myself receiving with some anger, even though I understand, those—especially on the top of the party—who are so blithely declaring the end of things. Do they understand what they’re ending?...

It’s no longer clear what shared principles endure. Everything got stretched to the breaking point the past 15 years.

Party leaders and thinkers should take note: It’s easier for a base to hire or develop a flashy new establishment than it is for an establishment to find itself a new base.

Even if the party stays together with a Trump win, what will it be? It will have been reconstituted.
There's a chance to put together a party that respects the Reagan Democrats, and pursues blue collar interests that unite poorer white and black voters. It would have to break with the Chamber of Commerce to do that, but it would be a formidable party if it could do it. If you cut into black support so that you were winning a third of the black vote, the Democratic party would not win another national election until they found a new coalition. Unite that black vote with the ~40% of Americans who are blue collar whites, and you wouldn't have to win many other voters -- Evangelicals might do it alone. If you could hold most conservatives, you'd have a dominant coalition. If you lost the conservatives who were most attached to Chamber of Commerce issues, you'd still win.

It's not the end of the world. There's a chance it could be the beginning of something good, if the "new thing" has principles that accord with the principles of these most ordinary American people. It does need some thought, but there's an opportunity for the thoughts of ordinary Americans to matter.

The window won't last. It never does. Think now, and think carefully, and make sure you make your best thinking known.

Clinton Earns Zero Votes at UNL Caucus

Sanders wins the state overall, after caucuses in every county were held for the first time in Nebraska history. At the caucus closest to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Clinton received zero votes and failed to attain viability.

Say It Ain't So

In fairness, does anything in New York City get constructed without mob buy-in?

The conservatives' indirect path to power

Laura Ingraham argues that small-government conservatives should rally behind Trumpist populism because it's the only way to break the iron grip of the GOPe and ensure that the GOP is no longer where genuine conservative ideas go to die.  She acknowledges that many conservatives fear Trump is an unprincipled closet liberal, but counters that all the ostensible conservatives we've managed to elect are the same.  Cruz might be different, yes, but he should let Trump pave the way and then hope he can get in there somehow and have his ideas heard for a change.  Finally, she argues that supporting populism is kinda sorta congruent with small-government conservatism, even if populism has to be implemented by big-government policies, because populism is about increased opportunity instead of the status quo.

I don't find any of this persuasive.  The real question is, though, whether I find it more persuasive than the idea that we should either stay home or (gag) vote for Clinton.

A Little More Insight on Venezuela

It's not a fun place, as we saw recently. How'd it get that way? Well, socialism. But also...

Great News!

Georgia Legislature Update

We're getting close to the end. Most of the issues that opened big are closing weak. Casinos are dead -- they didn't make the 'crossover day' cut, the last day legislation has to jump houses if it's going to get finished in the 40 day session. Medical marijuana just survived that cut, and is now in the Senate.

The campus carry bill is due for a Senate Judiciary Committee vote Monday. Feel free to write them and encourage passage if you'd like. I wrote the chairman.

The Religious Freedom bill is in final negotiations, having passed both houses (unanimously, in the Georgia House of Representatives). The Senate version made some changes that have to be ironed out in committee. However, the bill is considered very likely to die given that Governor Deal has all but promised to veto it. Like many Republican governors, he favors corporate interests over the protection of his constituents' basic liberties.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has developed new bill-success-predicting software that estimates the campus carry bill (HB 859) has a 55% chance of becoming law. The bill tracker has a problem with the religious freedom law, because the Senate combined two house bills -- one of them the tracker estimates has a 99% chance of becoming law, and the other a 5% chance. Most likely the governor will kill them both with his veto. The Republican governor backing corporate interests against the Georgia citizenry by killing a religious freedom bill that passed unanimously in the House will give Evangelical voters in Georgia -- who went huge for Trump in the primary -- yet another reason to hate the Republican establishment come the General Election.

Jim Webb: Anybody But Clinton

No other commitments, but that one is pretty loud and clear.

The Eleventh Republican Debate

Last night's debate must have been very gratifying for someone who prefers Python metaphors.

Eh, Mike?

Medieval Oaks

Found forgotten in the backyard of Churchill's old palace -- I did not realize he had lived in a palace -- are sixty oaks that date to the Middle Ages.

Some More Takes on Trump

Elizabeth Price Foley at InstaPundit:
What is the GOP establishment smoking? They’re behaving like they’re zoned out on crack–hypersensitive, overheated, paranoid, and filled with anxiety. Why do they not gracefully accept the decision of their own voters?

The rise of Donald Trump is a direct result of the GOP’s failure to listen to, or even care about, the issues of concern to ordinary (i.e., beyond the Beltway) voters. They want a leader who ardently defends U.S. sovereignty, security, and economic interests, and who overtly snubs stifling political correctness. They don’t want a patrician like Mitt Romney, whose speech today smacks of a controlling, wealthy father chastising his upstart children for their foolish attempts at independence.
Nick Gillespie at Reason:
People—even or especially Trump supporters—aren't idiots. They know political grandstanding when they see it, and they fully understand that conservatives and Republicans don't really believe in the things they talk about. Or, same thing, that everything can and will change in the blink of the eye or in ways that just don't make sense. Didn't Mitt Romney beg Donald Trump for an endorsement a few years ago? Romney, whom every conservative news org endorsed and approved, ran for president by attacking Obamacare and the incumbent for spending too much money. He also promised to keep the parts of Obamacare "he liked" and refused to name a single big-ticket spending program he would cut or even trim. Upon becoming Speaker of the House after a million years in waiting, John Boehner was incapable of naming a single program or department he would get rid of.

You can hear it already: But...but...but...Romney and Boehner and all the rest aren't real conservatives or Republicans or whatever. No, that would be Paul Ryan, whose first big act as Boehner's replacement was to sign off on a deal that increased spending on defense and social programs. Whatevs, buddy, whatevs.

Operation Restore Hope, Homeland Edition

Otherwise known as "Update: Hillary for Prison, 2016."
A Department of Justice decision to grant immunity to Hillary Clinton’s top IT aide indicates officials are “considering potential criminal charges” against the former secretary of state or her aides, according to a source familiar with the investigation... “Giving him immunity” indicates “they are considering potential criminal charges against people higher up in the chain,” said the source who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the investigation with reporters.
If you're a Democrat in office who is afraid of Donald Trump, one way you could help derail his train is by proving that the government is not quite as corrupt as everyone has come to believe that it is.

It's Only "Indiscriminate" in the Technical Sense

The Russian bombing campaign that Gen. Breedlove is describing as "indiscriminate" is so only in the sense that it does not meet the Just War standards for the "discriminate" use of force. It is not indiscriminate in the sense of "random" or "careless." The Russians are hitting the targets they are aiming to hit.

Putin has simply adopted Assad's strategy of emptying Syrian cities by directing mass violence towards civilian populations and their institutions, such as hospitals. There are two strategic goals advanced in this way:

1) An empty land is easier for a weak ruler like Assad to govern, making it more likely that the war will end with him in control of this physical territory.

2) The mass wave of refugees creates incredible pressure on European governments, making it more likely that they will accept any outcome that stops the pain -- meaning that they are more likely to accept an end to the war that leaves Assad in control of that physical territory, in spite of his use of chemical weapons and his ruthless attacks on noncombatants.

In other words, the Russian strategy to protect Assad from ouster because of his attacks on noncombatants is to increase sharply the number and severity of attacks on noncombatants. Europe can't survive the pressure of waves of millions of refugees, going on for years. They will cave, and Assad -- with Russian fire support and Iranian ground support -- will be able to reassert control of at least the western parts of Syria. Those are the parts Russia cares about most.

Then, in the second phase of the war, Russia and Iran can lead Iraq and Syria in consolidating their mastery of eastern Syria and Western Iraq. That will leave the Russian/Iranian alliance in control of the northern Middle East, from Afghanistan (once we withdraw) to the Levant.

A target of opportunity may be breaking NATO, which could occur if the Turks end up in a conflict with Russia that the rest of the NATO powers are unwilling to support. Even if they don't get that, they'll have won a Grand Strategic victory over the United States and the West. If they do, they'll have broken our key alliance for resisting Russian domination of Asia and Eastern Europe.

All in all, a good bit of work from Putin's perspective. Somebody still knows how to play this game.

Special Forces Sergeant Charles Martland

A delegate from Culpepper, VA -- a city with some significant American heritage -- rises to call his fellows to the defense of an American warrior. The speech is impassioned. I don't know if it is convincing. Many will be put off by the admission that the sergeant "beat" an Afghan police officer, regardless of the fact that this officer was a child rapist.

In the old days, we would have simply asked: What would you have done, if it had been you standing there, and the child came to beg you for help? What would you have done, when the police laughed in your face and the faces of the child and his mother? What else could you do to convey that, at least as long as you were there, the rape of children was going to stop?

In the old days, any American worth his salt would have said nothing in answer to those questions, but nodded. There are no good answers to the questions. In such a place as Afghanistan, there is only doing what you can do as the man on the ground with the gun. You may not be able to change the culture, but you can make it stop for a while.

That's what any of us would have done. It's not a question of what is right. It's a question of what is left.

Ah, the "Tricky Phase" of War

Just when you thought Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bucca and other infamous American moral horrors were behind us, captured ISIS figures means a return to what the NYT calls the "tricky phase." How can we possibly detain these poor creatures without inflicting unavoidable American abuses upon them?

Actually, it sounds like we're just going to turn them over to the Kurds once we are done with them. I imagine that will mean a mercifully short detention.

Upholding Standards

Headline: Obama giving a eulogy for KKK grand wizard Robert Byrd - Skips SCOTUS funeral

More Kant for Lent

Kant's approach to faith is rational rather than simply faithful, which causes him to disdain the idea that one can obtain (or ought to seek) justification by faith alone. To look to God when you aren't shifting the load yourself strikes him as a doomed project, as you are unworthy of the help you seek.

He also brings the Stoics in for some criticism in thinking the natural inclinations are the primary evil in the hearts of men. Not so, he says: the natural inclinations are good, as long as they are well-managed.

Even just the first couple of pages here ought to make for an interesting and worthy discussion.

Enthusiasm versus Age

In general in American politics, it is better to be supported by the old than by the young. The young have enthusiasm, and will volunteer and knock on doors for you. The old actually show up on election day.

This strikes me as explaining yesterday's results fairly well. Bernie Sanders has all the enthusiasm: no one at all seems to be enthusiastic about voting for Clinton. Democratic participation is way down across the board from 2008 or even 2012. Bernie is winning young voters by vast margins, but he loses the elections because only a few of the young show up relative to their numbers.

As the enthusiasm of the young is disappointed by watching the corruption of the DNC wash away their icon's chances, how many of them who did make it out to the primary will make it back out to the general? I have already heard three young people I know say that they will not be turning out to vote for Mrs. Clinton in the general. Perhaps they will change their mind. Perhaps not.

Republican enthusiasm is way up. Trump voters especially seem to be both enthusiastic and showing up, suggesting that the enthusiasm for him is with the older voters rather than the younger ones on average -- though there are occasional surprises in Trump's support. But anti-Trump Republicans are enthusiastic too: they are enthusiastic about voting against Trump.

Cruz did well last night relative to all the other non-Trump Republicans. By taking Texas and Alaska, America's most emblematically Red states, he has surely won the right to be the conservative candidate in the race. I think the remaining non-Trump candidates should withdraw, especially Rubio, whose near victory in Virginia was occasioned entirely by his support in the Washington, D.C. metroplex. This is not the year for D.C.'s favorite son.

If you don't want Trump, Cruz is probably the last chance. He's the other candidate in the race who is plausibly an outsider, and who speaks to the anger among the millions of voters who have been backing Trump enthusiastically. If you want that enthusiasm to carry over into the general, and you certainly do if you want to win, finding a way to swap Trump out for an establishment figure is not the way to go. Cruz could win the primary and the general. Trump could, too. Nobody else in the field strikes me as having the chance.

You Mean It Might NOT Be That They're A Bunch of Authoritarians?

The RAND Corporation says that the single biggest predictor for taking Trump as your first choice is the feeling that "people like me don't have any say" in politics.

Hamas Eats Its Own

Mr. Ishtiwi, 34, was a commander from a storied family of Hamas loyalists who, during the 2014 war with Israel, was responsible for 1,000 fighters and a network of attack tunnels. Last month, his former comrades executed him with three bullets to the chest.

Adding a layer of scandal to the story, he was accused of moral turpitude, by which Hamas meant homosexuality.
UPDATE: Blogger IsraellyCool says he was "rubbed out for Hamasexualityᵀᴹ."

Hey, Texas: What?

At first I assumed the news agency had simply left out the word "thousand."

Headline: 75 rounds of ammunition found underneath house, nearby homes evacuated

But wait, it gets worse:
Capt. Troy Balcar of the San Antonio Fire Department said a family member found a sealed box with about 75 rounds of decades-old ammunition underneath the house. He said the rounds are .40 caliber and about 40 years old, based on a date written on the box. Half a dozen nearby homes were evacuated for about three hours.

"This is definitely a big danger, because they've been under there so long," Balcar said. "They've rusted, they've been exposed to the weather, elements outside so we definitely want to get them disposed of as quickly as possible."
Yeah, nothing makes ammunition more powerful than decades of exposure.

What's up, Texas? These are your police, even. Are you trying to prove Havok Journal right about this?

Angelo Codevilla on the Republic

Dr. Codevilla is one of the more insightful writers on the problems facing us today. I remember his first prominent article on these problems well, and wish it had been better heeded at the time.

Now he warns that we are already past the Republic. This is the unrecognized Empire.
Civics classes used to teach: “Congress makes the laws, the president carries them out, judges decide controversies, and we citizens may be penalized only by a jury of our peers.”

Nobody believes that anymore, because no part of it has been true for a long time. Barack Obama stopped pretending that it is. During the twentieth century’s second half, both parties and all branches of government made a mockery of the Constitution of 1789. Today’s effective constitution is: “The president can do whatever he wants so long as one-third of the Senate will sustain his vetoes and prevent his conviction upon impeachment.”

Obama has been our first emperor.
It's worth revisiting what he had to say in 2010, and comparing it with what he warns of today. Describing the environment that produced the TEA Party as a clash between the pro-American, pro-Christian "country class" and the "ruling class," he warned that what he called the "country class" was not well-positioned for politics.
Certainly the country class lacks its own political vehicle -- and perhaps the coherence to establish one. In the short term at least, the country class has no alternative but to channel its political efforts through the Republican Party, which is eager for its support. But the Republican Party does not live to represent the country class. For it to do so, it would have to become principles-based, as it has not been since the mid-1860s. The few who tried to make it so the party treated as rebels: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.... Few Republican voters, never mind the larger country class, have confidence that the party is on their side....

The name of the party that will represent America's country class is far less important than what, precisely, it represents and how it goes about representing it because, for the foreseeable future, American politics will consist of confrontation between what we might call the Country Party and the ruling class. The Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline, challenging it would seem to require empowering a rival party at least as disciplined. What other antidote is there to government by one party but government by another party? Yet this logic, though all too familiar to most of the world, has always been foreign to America and naturally leads further in the direction toward which the ruling class has led. Any country party would have to be wise and skillful indeed not to become the Democrats' mirror image.
Six years on, the ruling class rules the Republican party as well.
America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.

This class's fatal feature is its belief that ordinary Americans are a lesser intellectual and social breed. Its increasing self-absorption, its growing contempt for whoever won’t bow to it, its dependence for votes on sectors of society whose grievances it stokes, have led it to break the most basic rule of republican life: deeming its opposition illegitimate.
What is interesting to me is that the voters have given the Republicans control of the elected branches throughout: in the vast majority of statehouses, in both houses of Congress, in governors' mansions, in every electable branch the Republican party predominates. Now, having raised them to the pinnacle of democratically-attainable power, the waves of voters are poised to seize the Presidency -- but not for a figure from the ruling class.

Codevilla's piece slams Trump from start to finish, and calls for a return to small-r republicanism and an end to the cycle of revenge against our cultural enemies. I've been calling for the same thing since 2004, without it being highly persuasive to anyone yet. Let us have the Tenth Amendment, and allow the states to diverge on moral and cultural matters. Let us strip the Supreme Court of its extraordinary power, and the Executive of its power to legislate through the bureaucracy.

Return to the Constitution, or dissolve the Union. Living under an Empire operating under the pretense of democratic legitimacy ought to terrify anyone who understands what that would mean. The cycle of cultural violence can only grow worse if we do not find a way to return to our Constitutional principles, and yet remain bound tightly to those who hate and despise us, who scorn and resent us. Power can only protect you for so long.

Super Tuesday

Very short ballot in Georgia today: one question.

I voted in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton. I will vote against her again, should she survive to the general. I take this to be the last, most important duty I can perform in this deeply disappointing election cycle: to vote against her every chance I get, and thus for whomever may be running against her. At least this time her opponent is an honest man, whatever you think of his honest opinions.

We shall see what profit, if any, comes of it all. Today is a ZeroHedge kind of day, in a ZeroHedge season, in a ZeroHedge cycle.

UPDATE: With 0.1% of precincts reporting, the media has already called the state for Clinton. She may well win, but that seems wildly premature.

"The Mandrake" (with Changes)

So a couple weeks ago I mentioned that the University of Georgia was doing a highly unusual take on Machiavelli's "The Mandrake":
This being 2016 in America, the opera will not be performed with the original music.
“We’ve made them rap songs with lots of stomps and percussion type beats,” Marotta said.
And this being 2016 on an American college campus, the opera will be cast in order to make a point about gender.
In order to change up the stereotypes and force the audience to ask deeper questions about power play and gender roles, all of the male roles will be played by women and all the women roles are to be played by puppets.
Out of curiosity, I went to see the UGA production yesterday afternoon. I have the following to report:

1) I am forced to conclude that the claim that their intention in selecting an all-female cast was to "force the audience to ask deeper questions about power play and gender roles" was a lie to protect the play from university censorship. The play was 90 minutes of intensely raunchy, bawdy humor. They stole the 'ongoing urination' joke from Austin Powers. They had a scene with disguises in which a priest was carrying walnuts in his mouth 'to disguise his voice,' which they turned into a three-minute long routine about one of the characters desiring 'nuts in my mouth' ("I have some," replied another character, "but they're a little bit salty").

My sense is that you couldn't have run the same play with the same jokes with a male/female cast on the contemporary university campus. Run the same jokes with an all-female cast, under the banner of 'forcing the audience' to do difficult conceptual work, and no censors even cast their eyes in its direction.

2) The "rap" music was a bad idea. Possibly this was because the cast, in addition to being all-female, was all-white-female. In addition to not being very good at writing hip-hop music, their voices lacked the strength and range to be intelligible over the stomping and clapping. Neither I nor my wife could actually understand anything they were saying during these routines.

3) It turns out that Machiavelli gave by far the strongest lines in the whole play to the young wife. The only time in the entire play that anyone stands up for what is right and invokes morality without any shade of self-interest is her monologue. It comes right after she submits to her (bribed) priest's advice that she go along with the plan. In the monologue, she says that she hopes that if his advice (which includes adultery that will lead to the death of an innocent) is coming from any sort of admixture of self-interest or faithlessness, then that she calls on all the demons of Hell to make sure that his soul is planted right beside hers so that she can watch him suffer for all eternity. It's really powerful stuff.

Because of their casting decisions, this speech -- the moral heart of the story -- was delivered by a one-and-a-half-foot tall puppet.

4) There were the expected number of jokes at the expense of Catholics and Republicans written into the play. FOX News and Donald Trump came in for special mention. The priest was supposedly bisexual and dissolute as well as corrupt. Just as you couldn't have run this play with a male/female cast without drawing university censorship, you couldn't have run the same jokes pointed at Islamic clergy without drawing down a university ban. Aimed at Catholic and conservative American targets, though, these jokes are perfectly safe.

5) Two jokes were aimed at the fear of giving offense in sexual matters on the university campus. These were both funny and well-received by the audience. The first involved the question of whether a meeting was properly described as a rendezvous -- no, said one character, 'because that sounds sexual, and you didn't obtain our consent!' The other was delivered when a character, disguised as a pirate, was singing a song that went, 'We say yo-ho-ho, but we don't say 'ho,' because that would be disrespect-ful.'

In spite of everything, it wasn't the worst 90 minutes of my life. I doubt I would take the opportunity to go see it again, but the actresses were clearly enjoying themselves so it was at least somewhat fun to watch. They played to and with the audience -- if you were in the front row of any of the seats, and they had seats on three sides of the stage, you would likely be involved in the play at some point. The performance was packed, too, at the Sunday afternoon matinee that was also its final performance. Clearly they had crafted something that was very popular for their intended audience.

Mad Max? Really?

It was a little startling to hear that Mad Max swept the B-level Academy Awards last night.  Much as I love the series, the last episode was kind of dumb and forgettable.  Well, at least no one was nuts enough to hand it any awards for things like directing, screenplay, or acting, and it's fair enough to say that its costumes and make-up and so on were well crafted.  (But sound editing?  Seriously?  Do they throw darts for that award, simply treat it as a consolation prize, or are there judges who genuinely pay attention to the technical aspects of sound editing?)

On the other hand I have to admit it's the only movie on the entire Oscars roster I've actually seen, so it's not as though I had my finger on the pulse.

Some Suggestions for "Common Ground"

An academic writes that his students -- he has taught at elite universities like Princeton and Georgetown, but currently at Notre Dame -- are "know-nothings." The questions they can't answer are good starts for us.
My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their minds are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten it origins and aims, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference about itself....

[A]sk them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian war? What was at stake at the Battle of Salamis? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach? How did Socrates die? Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Canterbury Tales? Paradise Lost? The Inferno?

Who was Saul of Tarsus? What were the 95 theses, who wrote them, and what was their effect? Why does the Magna Carta matter? How and where did Thomas Becket die? What happened to Charles I? Who was Guy Fawkes, and why is there a day named after him? What happened at Yorktown in 1781? What did Lincoln say in his Second Inaugural? His first Inaugural? How about his third Inaugural? Who can tell me one or two of the arguments that are made in Federalist 10? Who has read Federalist 10? What are the Federalist Papers?
I have to admit that I've never read Paradise Lost. Nor, ah, Lincoln's third inaugural. His second one is really good, though!

How to Engineer a Famine

AEI charted the biggest recent famines.  To get really big numbers, you almost have to institute socialism, but less severe famines can be achieved by bad luck with war or weather, or simply a floundering or chaotic social or political system.  China was hit over and over in its pre-socialist days, then had the one disastrous episode in 1958-1962, after which it's largely kept the problem at bay.  The area of Africa that encompasses the Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia are obviously nowhere you'd want to be.

Sometimes I Wish I Lived in an Airstream

A Quick Update on the Common Ground Series

For the last two weeks I have been swamped with work and have not had time to add to the Common Ground series. However, I did update the Books Under Copyright post with suggestions from Grim and Ymar, so that should be good now.

Two more planned posts in the series will cover Daily News and War, and that should catch us up with past discussions.

After I finish covering sources of information and ideas, I would like to begin discussing what we believe are the common problems our nation faces. After that, naturally, I would like to start discussing possible solutions, and finally, how those solutions could be achieved.

That said, I don't foresee having a lot of time to post for the next couple of weeks. Feel free to add sources or discuss any of this in the comments. I'll look back at them when I'm writing future posts, and I plan to try to keep the sources posts updated with new material.