Tasty Tidbits 10/3/11

  1. A better class of right-wing populist.
  2. Utilitarian religion
  3. Food, food, food.
  4. Political Gotcha!
  5. Judicial Supremacy?
  6. Wow! Look at the size of that thing!
  7. Happy first Monday in October!


Republican primary voters deserve a better class of right-wing populist, and the country does as well …
… the uncompromising purity of the talk-radio dial against the deal-making required to govern…
This critique accuses the Republican leadership of being too cavalier about illegal immigration, too forgiving of crony capitalism and Wall Street-Washington coziness, too promiscuous with overseas military interventions, and too willing to imitate Democrats and centralize power in Washington. Right-wing populists tend to argue that Beltway Republicans have lost touch with the party’s core constituencies: small-business owners, middle-class families and Main Street, U.S.A.
These arguments often have merit. The trouble is that no populist politician has been able to deliver an agenda to match. Having identified important problems, right-wing populists almost inevitably rally to unworkable solutions.

This is the irony of Fox’s impact on Republican politics. In a sense, the network’s shows have given right-wing populism a larger megaphone than it’s ever had before. But by turning populism into mass entertainment, they’ve made it less and less likely that a conservative populist will ever actually deserve to win.

(Ross Douthat) Walter Russell Mead liked the column, too.


It’s not clear whether [leading German philosopher Jurgen] Habermas believes in the existence of any being greater than himself, but the acknowledgment of the social utility of religion by Germany’s most eminent living thinker suggests that the Continent’s long drift away from the faith that once made it the center of world culture may be coming to a halt.

(Walter Russell Mead at Via Meadia)

One smirk and one observation:

  1. Smirk: The question of whether “Habermas believes in the existence of any being greater than himself” struck me as being a swipe at excessive self-esteem. Considering the Peter Berger item Mead links to, I suspect the swipe was intentional, perhaps with room for plausible deniability.
  2. Observation: Any religion adopted because of its social utility is not truly adopted and has no social utility.
Does anyone really know of a society adopting a religion for its social utility and becoming better for it?


[Q:] What Will Our Food System Be Like in 100 Years?

[A:] My best guess is that the food system will look very different in 100 years, for the simple reason that the present one is — in the precise sense of the word — unsustainable. It depends on fossil fuels that we can’t depend on and exacts a steeper price in human and environmental health than we can afford. So it will change, whether we want it to or not. We certainly won’t be eating nine ounces of meat per person per day, as Americans do now — there won’t be enough feed grain, worldwide, to continue that feast, and presumably we will have faced up to meat-eating’s disastrous toll on the environment. If we haven’t, we’ll have much bigger problems on our plate than what to have for dinner.

Michael Pollan in the New York Times Magazine’s Food and Drink Issue. The whole issue is really good if you’re interested in:

  • Food
  • Health
  • Restaurants
  • Cooking
  • Food etiquette
  • Food culture (e.g., family meals)
  • Drink
  • Food Politics/Policy


Rick Perry reportedly took people hunting at a camp his father, and later he, had leased, which had been named “Niggerhead.” He says his father and he changed the name. Herman Cain, seeing daylight, dashes toward it saying that taking so long to paint over the name painted on a rock was “just plain insensitive.”

It reminds me of when someone playing political “gotcha” faulted a couple of conservative Supreme Court justices for living in subdivisions with racially restrictive covenants. Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? Well, those covenants were declared unenforceable (the courts’ enforcing such private covenants would be “state action” in violation of civil rights laws, the Supreme Court held almost 60 years ago, in an odd opinion that’s almost never cited), and nobody pays any attention to them any more as a result. They’re a “dead letter.”

My former house had a restrictive covenant, dating back to the 40s, as I discovered only by wonkishly reviewing my own Abstract of Title for closing. I was troubled at the reminder of what my community harbored in my own lifetime. The letter was as dead as dead could be, but there was no way to remove the corpse.

I’d better give up my hopes for elective office. I’ve eaten at Hooters twice in my life.


Princeton Jurisprudence prof and conservative luminary Robert P. George added the most explosively newsworthy exchanges to the Palmetto Freedom Forum of GOP hopefuls a few weeks ago, asking about Congressional legislation to limit abortion under Section 5 of the 14th amendment.

I’m glad that he has taken the time now to revisit his question and the constitutional theory  on which it rested: the legitimacy of elected officials, who take their own oath to “support and uphold the Constitution,” rejecting the theory of judicial supremacy when they’re convinced that a Supreme Court decision is contrary to the Constitution.

“The Judiciary doesn’t have the final word on the meaning of the Constitution, and Congress could step in to protect the 14th Amendment rights of the unborn.”


Maybe I should pay closer attention to Country Music.

(HT Rod Dreher, pointing to the Atlanticwire)

Wow! Look at the size of that R&B bar on “sexual prowess”!

The trouble is, I can no more embrace a musical genre because it’s not smutty than I can embrace a religion for its social utility. On the other hand, Country Music ain’t what it used to be.


28 U.S.C. § 2. (HT Volokh Conspiracy)

Whether or not the Supremes are supreme, they’re back.

* * * * *

Bon appetit!

(To save time on preparing this blog, which some days consumes way too much time, I’ve asked some guy named @RogerWmBennett to Tweet a lot of links about which I have little or nothing to add. Check the “Latest Tweets” in the upper right pane or follow him on Twitter.)

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