A Clash of Huntingtons

  1. A Clash of Civilizations Huntingtons
  2. TBTF in the Golden State
  3. Two cheers for “the Trial Bar”
  4. Make ’em feel our pain
  5. The plus of Purdue’s football prospects

1

I don’t think I read the Foreign Affairs magazine version of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations or the subsequent, expanded book version. But somehow, I started asking, sometimes aloud and probably around the same, “what’s the glue that holds us together?”

If you have time today for only one long internet article, and are interested in that question, I highly recommend Carlos Lozado’s Samuel Huntington, a prophet for the Trump era. Seldom have I so greatly benefited from a — oh, call it a “books review” —while disagreeing with the author pretty consistently when he tipped his hand.

Lozado thinks, and I cannot gainsay him, that later Huntington came to disagree with earlier Huntington. Specifically, he’s relatively approving toward “’American Politics: The Promise of Disharmony,’ published 36 (sic) years ago,” relatively disapproving of The Clash of Civilizations and Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity.

Over the subsequent two decades, Huntington lost hope. In his final book, “Who Are We?,” which he emphasizes reflect his views not just as a scholar but also as a patriot, Huntington revises his definitions of America and Americans. Whereas once the creed was paramount, here it is merely a byproduct of the Anglo-Protestant culture — with its English language, Christian faith, work ethic and values of individualism and dissent — that he now says forms the true core of American identity.

Threatening that core, Huntington writes, is the ideology of multiculturalism; the new waves of immigrants from Latin America, especially Mexico, whom Huntington believes are less able to assimilate than past immigrants; and the threat of the Spanish language, which Huntington treats as a disease infecting the cultural and political integrity of the United States. “There is no Americano dream,” he asserts. “There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. Mexican-Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English.”

It’s not hard to hear that echoed in the alt-right, or at least in its caricatures, but Lozado gives Huntington huge credit for his almost-clairvoyant description of the future arc of American history.

Huntington also sees threats, as Lozado reports it, from Chinese assertiveness and Islamic militance. I tend to agree with Huntington on that (note that Russia is not in his Rogues Gallery), but to disagree on immigration from Latin America. I think our “Anglo-Protestant culture” can better assimilate Latino Catholics than it can assimilate Muslims. It may not be as quick as our prior assimilation of European Catholic immigrants, but I think it can happen, and I would not be alarmed if we skewed Romeward in the process.

How that translates into immigration policy that isn’t unconstitutional or otherwise obnoxious is the conundrum, but it’s above my pay grade.

2

Even as Wall Street bulls tout Tesla’s stock, almost a conspiracy of silence has surrounded the most interesting questions. One of these concerns what happens when 300,000 customers who deposited $1,000 each for the forthcoming Tesla Model 3 learn that the $7,500 federal tax credit will expire before they can get their hands on it.

Now we know. Tesla may not be too big to fail as far as the federal government is concerned, but it certainly is too big to fail as far as California politicians are concerned.

[H]ere’s where we must eat a little crow. Seven years ago, we cautioned against the idea that Mr. Musk’s California “political allies-of-the-moment represent some kind of commitment to the company’s long-term success.”

We were obviously wrong. California Democrats have so lashed themselves to Tesla, there’s no amount of taxpayer money they won’t spend to keep it afloat.

(Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.)

3

My former party makes a lot of noise, accompanied by the Chambers of Commerce, about “tort reform,” which has become a term of art for letting the victims of corporate wrongdoing go undercompensated or entirely uncompensated.

My fair state pioneered “tort reform” in the area of Medical Malpractice under Governor Otis Bowen, M.D. There’s initial bureaucratic red tape (a “medical review panel”) stacked to favor the doctor, a Patient Compensation Fund administered by the state to protect malpractice insurers from all but the smallest judgments, caps on how much Patient Compensation Fund money can go to attorney fees, and an artificial cap on how much can ever be recovered from even the most egregious mistakes, with catastrophic consequences.

The practical result is virtual elimination of “frivolous” (“file ’em fast and settle ’em cheap”) malpractice cases but also elimination of any meritorious cases without “slam dunk” liability facts and grave harm to the patient.

So I have a certain grudging respect for the ATLA “trial lawyer” class action tycoons and for crusaders like Mike Moore, who helped expose the tobacco racket in the 90s and now are taking on the synthetic opioid makers with claims that they knowingly misled about the benefits and risks.

The trial bar may “own” the Democrat party like the Chamber of Commerce owns the GOP (though the Chamber plays both sides of the street in my state), but there is truth to the claim that the trial bar brings to light much corporate wrongdoing that causes individuals financial or bodily harm when there’s little political will to do so, and when indeed the political pressure is mostly on the side of protecting corporate privilege. See item 2.

4

Forgotten history recovered — with a proposed corrective:

The Affordable Care Act required members of Congress and their employees to participate in the health-insurance exchanges it established. They should have lost the generous coverage they had in the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program and instead bought one of the government-mandated options offered on the ACA exchanges.

In late 2012, staffers and members figured out what was about to happen and begged the Obama administration for relief. Just as Congress was going into its August recess in 2013, the Office of Personnel Management ratified the fiction that the House and Senate each have fewer than 50 employees, and thus qualify as “small businesses.” That enabled OPM to establish a system of special subsidies and exemptions, sparing Congress the embarrassment of a self-serving vote.

Many staffers are exempted and allowed to remain on their old insurance plans. Members of Congress and their designated “official office” staff are insured through the District of Columbia’s small business exchange—but they receive a one-of-a-kind subsidy from their employer (taxpayers) of up to $12,000, or about 70% of their premiums.

All that would be illegal for anyone else. In fact, it’s illegal for Congress too. But since it was established administratively, it can be ended the same way. The president should announce that he is instructing OPM to end the exemption and subsidies for Congress.

(Heather R. Higgins) Boy, does that idea ever have some appeal!

5

It will be hard for Purdue University football to disappoint expectations this year.

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Fiat justitia ruat caelum

There is no epistemological Switzerland. (Via Mars Hill Audio Journal Volume 134)

Some succinct standing advice on recurring themes.