“Nothing. (Plus tax cuts.)”

  1. “Nothing. (Plus tax cuts.)”
  2. Schumer’s Gibberish
  3. Reading the Classics
  4. How can xe be that much better
  5. TV-18 Kudos and Raspberries

1

Certainly there are lots of reasonable criticisms that can be made against the GOP’s Medicare reform plan, but those weren’t the criticisms that were made, except at the margin. Instead, the assumption is that if Republicans want to cut Medicare, it’s not to preserve its solvency (and thereby save it) or to make it more efficient, it’s because, essentially, despite their protestations, they’re jerks who get a private thrill up their leg from watching people suffer. This is also true when it comes to Medicaid and public schools

The GOP’s health-care reform plan looks like a Democratic caricature of what a Republican plan ought to be. Does it take money from the poor to hand it to the rich? Yes. Does it make countless people worse off? Yes. Does it cut coverage? Yes.So many conservatives have so internalized the progressive critique that they act it out. They’ve been told for so long by progressives that to be conservative is to be a jerk that they actually think that the way to be conservative is to be a jerk.

But this phenomenon, in turn, is only an avatar of a much deeper problem, which is that 30 years into the post-Reagan era, conservatives don’t know what they stand for. The hostile takeover of the GOP by Donald Trump was only made possible because of deep rifts within the conservative movement and the Republican coalition about what it means to be a conservative in the 21st century. The Reagan vision of conservatism became a victim of its own success: Now that issues like crime, inflation, and tax bracket creep have been solved, what do conservatives have to offer to the American people? Internalizing the progressive critique of conservatism, conservatives responded, essentially, “Nothing. (Plus tax cuts.)” The virtue of Trump’s answer of economic nationalism is that, at least, it is something, and something will usually beat nothing. Now Trump is backing (or at least pretending to back) a plan that goes against the vision of a health-care system that “takes care of everyone” that he ran and won on. And so the identity crisis of conservatism continues. To fix it, conservatives need to stop internalizing the progressive critique. It won’t be sufficient; but it certainly is necessary.

(Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry)

2

On the Senate floor this morning, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he will filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court and urged his fellow Democratic senators to join him.

Schumer said he remained unconvinced that Gorsuch would “be an independent check” on President Donald Trump. Gorsuch, he asserted, is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology. He was groomed by the Federalist Society and has shown not one inch of difference between his views and theirs.”

(Alexandra DeSanctis) I think that last sentence is meant as an insult, but were it not gibberish, I’d consider it high praise.

Why do I call it gibberish?

Others have expressed dismay that Gorsuch is a member of the Federalist Society and was recommended to the president by the Society’s executive vice president, Leonard Leo, who has taken a leave from the organization to work on the nomination.

“Neil Gorsuch Was Hatched in a Federalist Society Lab,” proclaims Dahlia Lithwick’s latest article for Slate. “We Must Filibuster Gorsuch’s Federalist Society Agenda,” screams an op-ed circulated on progressive websites. Repeating what have become common progressive talking points, the author portrays the Society as a secretive cabal advancing a sinister, “pro-corporate, anti-civil rights agenda.”

As a longtime member and supporter of the Federalist Society, I recognize very little in the dark caricatures drawn by progressive politicians and pundits. The Federalist Society — to which I’ve belonged and contributed for many years — is certainly a right-of-center organization, but its focus is on ideas, not supporting specific causes or interests. It is, as its statement of purpose, indicates

a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.  It is founded on the principles that the state exists to preserve freedom, that the separation of governmental powers is central to our Constitution, and that it is emphatically the province and duty of the judiciary to say what the law is, not what it should be.

The idea of a narrow Federalist Society “agenda” is particularly bemusing, though I suppose it’s easy to fear and misrepresent what one doesn’t understand. While the Society is united by broad principles, its members have a wide range of views on the particulars.

Some Federalist Society members were at the forefront of developing challenges to the Affordable Care Act, while others were convinced of its constitutionality. Some Federalist Society members inveighed against the unconstitutionality of President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms, while others of us defended their legality. Some Federalist Society members defended the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, while others of us argued it was an improper use of federal power. Some Federalist Society members believe Kelo v. New London epitomizes government tyranny, while others of us believe it is consistent with the text of the Fifth Amendment. And so on.

Federalist Society luminaries range from libertarians like Randy Barnett to traditionalists like Michael Stokes Paulsen and those who defy conventional definition, like Society Chairman Steven Calabresi, a noted originalist scholar who’s also written that the Constitution requires recognition of same-sex marriage. The Federalist Society has celebrated the work of the late justice Antonin Scalia, whose legacy was the focus of last year’s annual convention, while also praising the academic work of liberal scholars such as Akhil Reed Amar, who was awarded the Society’s Paul M. Bator prize in 1993.

When sponsoring programs on law school campuses (in which I often participate), the organization goes out of its way to encourage discourse and debate. (Alas, at many schools it can be difficult to find professors who are willing to exchange views in front of students.) Federalist Society conferences — and the student symposia in particular — feature diverse panels and pointed debates on the most important legal issues, with opinions spanning the political spectrum. Few, if any, organizations can claim equivalent programming. It’s no wonder that Justice Elena Kagan proclaimed “I Love the Federalist Society” when she was Harvard Law’s dean.

(Jonathan Adler)

3

“Why Most Students No Longer Read the ‘Great Books’: is the headline.

I found reason 3 arresting:

3) The Great Books are hard. Sorry, but most students aren’t capable of grasping the content and complex themes in the Great Books. Previous centuries understood this, which is why higher learning (in the teenage years and beyond) was reserved to a minority of people. But today, our society labors under the romantic illusion that all students should be scholars. To stack the deck in favor of that illusion, schools have had to considerably dumb down the curriculum, which means that they’ve had to give the boot to the Great Books.

I will take the author’s word on reason 5, for I unfortunately didn’t study Latin or Greek, either one of which would have stood me in better stead for the last 40 years than have high school French and college Spanish. That also means I’m also in reason 2: Nemo dat quod non habet.

4

Will “male-to-female transgender persons” be the death of most women’s sports?

Laurel Hubbard made history this weekend by becoming the first transgender female to win an international weightlifting title for New Zealand … [S]he lifted a combined total of 268 kilograms (roughly 590 pounds) to best silver medalist Iuniarra Sipaia of Samoa by 19 kilograms (roughly 42 pounds) ….

19 kilograms. That’s quite a margin. How does a woman become so dominant?

Please don’t make me answer that.

[M]ale athletes aren’t facing the possible domination of their sports by women dressed like men and injecting testosterone; women have a real possibility of women’s sports being erased by men who, despite dressing like women and taking steps to reduce their testosterone levels, still clearly have advantages over the actual female athletes.
But the truth I find most irritatingly and blindingly obvious is this: transgenderism is a war on reality. A man can say he feels female, and though I still maintain he does not know and never will know what it really feels like to be a woman there is room to be sympathetic and tolerant. But when a man says, “I am a woman,” he is stating something which is not, in any empirical or scientific or rational way, actually true. He can identify as transgender and like women’s clothing and want to be surgically altered to appear somewhat female, but what he cannot do is be, in an ontological sense, a woman, no matter how hard he tries.
(Erin Manning, Reality is not optional)

5

Kudos to TV-18’s Kayla Sullivan for introducing a story that businesses were going to be affected by construction. Raspberries to Brittany Tyner for reporting thereafter that they were going to be impacted by construction.

* * * * *

“Liberal education is concerned with the souls of men, and therefore has little or no use for machines … [it] consists in learning to listen to still and small voices and therefore in becoming deaf to loudspeakers.” (Leo Strauss)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.